People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 39

September 29, 2013






Broader Platform Needed for Alternative Policies


ON September 25, 2013, a meeting of political leaders took place at Srinagar in order to discuss the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Those who participated in the meeting included CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, PDF president Hakim Mohammad Yasin (MLA), Sheikh Abdul Rehman (former MP and state president, Samajwadi Party), Muzaffar Shah (senior vice president, ANC), Abdul Rashid Kabuli (former MP and president, JKNDF), I D Khajuria (president, International Democratic Party),  Abdul Rehman Tukru (state secretary, CPI) and Sanjay Saraf (president of the youth wing of Lok Janshakti Party). The meeting adopted the following statement:


There is more than a single layer of problem that confronts the people in Jammu and Kashmir. And at its heart is the political uncertainty. This essential factor has had a huge impact all these years of the turmoil on all important dimensions of day to day life. From deprivation of political rights, transparency, accountability, effective and participatory governance, the people here have been facing a range of challenges like irresponsive administration, price rise, corruption, ever increasing unemployment, malpractices, favouritism, lack of accountability and delayed justice. Holding round table conferences, appointing interlocutors and then sleeping over their recommendations has virtually eroded the credibility of the political process in Jammu and Kashmir.


We are of the considered opinion that there is no security solution to the Kashmir issue and the leadership of India and Pakistan need to exhibit statesmanship to find out acceptable solutions to all outstanding issues including Kashmir. India and Pakistan cannot afford to continue with the present hostile atmosphere and, for this, alternative solutions are to be looked into. It is our firm belief that only a sustained, meaningful dialogue can lead the two countries towards that goal.


We all understand that discussions on the Kashmir issue can be at variance, but the sense of denial of political rights has persisted across all debates and discussions, focussing on the unrest and discontentment among people of Jammu and Kashmir. There is general perception, and rightly so, that the people of Kashmir have been suffering from broken promises, shrinking democratic space and economic deprivation. All this has led to dejection and disappointment.


The recent civilian killings in Gool and Shopian demand a serious approach and appraisal. Any attempt to adopt a casual and insensitive approach can only precipitate the crisis further. These unfortunate killings only refresh the memories of firing on the protestors in 2010. Instead of prosecuting the guilty, the administration is only relying on curfews and indiscriminate arrests of youth.


While the youth in other parts of the country have assumed the centre-stage, the youth here continue to face adversities and exclusion. There has been an unprecedented pressure on the youth of Jammu and Kashmir, as they are the worst victims of the two decades old turmoil. The denial of justice and merit has substantiated the strong perception among the youth that they have never been treated at par with the youth belonging to other states of the country.


In our state the number of unemployed youth has increased by several thousands. According to the economic survey there are over 6.01 lakh unemployed youth who are registered in various district employment exchanges. Despite having a huge number of vacancies in different government departments, the successive governments here have not been able to create and tap employment opportunities and rise up to the expectation of the people. Cashing upon the helplessness of our unemployed educated youth, the government has unfortunately resorted to ad-hocism, contractisation, casualisation and engaging youth on need basis. However, these policies have left the people suffering for want of their wages which they hardly get after months together. 


Dismembering the constitutional and administrative institutions beyond repair has played a considerable role in deteriorating the situation. This is also a factor why Jammu and Kashmir seems not lagging behind other most corrupt states on the menacing corruption, unaccountability and non-transparency.


Draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) need to be revoked. Similarly, there should be a complete review of draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).


Economy continues to remain in a shambles. Proper planning is nowhere in sight. Top heavy and oversized administration is an unbearable burden. The state is getting trapped into an acute debt vortex with every passing year, and this moving backward trend does not catch sight of those who day in and day out chant much hyped development. The thrust should have been on improving agriculture and horticulture which continue to provide livelihood to nearly 80 percent of our population. It should have been the endeavour of the government to make agriculture sector attractive by further subsidisation of fertilisers, pesticides and farm equipments and also by reducing the interest on farm loans, besides enhancing allocations for irrigation sector. Moreover, effective measures are required to check the import of substandard farm ingredients. There is no effort to introduce a crop insurance scheme in the state despite promises made in and outside the legislature. 


Similarly, plans for reviving the handicraft sector in the state seem to have fallen flat. On the one hand the monopolists in the handicrafts business have earned huge money but on the other the talented artisan, who actually makes these master craft pieces, is nowhere in the picture. He is debt ridden and he can hardly make his both ends meet. Similarly, tourism, having a vast potential to contribute to our economy, is still unexplored. Not only new destinations need to be discovered; a comprehensive infrastructural plan is need of the hour.


The government is turning a deaf ear and blind eye to the acute day to day problems the working people are confronted with. The sky touching prices of commodities is another area of serious concern.  While the essential commodities have gone out of reach for the poor people, the latest hikes in fuel prices will have a cascading effect on the people already burdened by the price rise. 


Power crisis is one of the major worrying factors. Recommendations of various panels that the power projects, currently with the NHPC, should be returned to Jammu and Kashmir substantiates our demand. It is surprising that these projects have not been returned so far despite the recommendations of the C Rangarajan committee, of the working group constituted by the prime minister and of the interlocutors. We fail to understand who else should now recommend the same before the NHPC returns pour power projects. Similarly, the losses which Jammu and Kashmir is regularly bearing due to the Indus water treaty should be compensated for.


The faulty public distribution system is another problematic area. Every citizen has the right to food which needs to universalised and not targeted. In our state ration is being provided as per the 2001 census instead of 2011. The demand to provide ration to all the families at Rs 2 per kg is justified. The least the government can do is to provide ration on the basis of the 2011 census. Any further delay is unwarranted.


The woes of the displaced, migrants and released militants are increasing in the absence of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. It seems the much hyped schemes for rehabilitation of youth who have shunned the path of violence are not working on ground. The loopholes need to be plugged.


Above all, we are extremely saddened by the latest episode of communal clashes in Kishtwar. This should not be taken in isolation, as some divisive tendencies are increasingly emerging in our society which is not only a disturbing trend but has no place in our pluralistic ethos. These tendencies are fraught with dangerous consequences and should not be underestimated. The resilience of the people is who did not succumb to the nefarious designs of the vested interests is appreciable. Let there be no vacillation on the principle that the future of our state lies in diversity, brotherhood and communal harmony. The age old and time tested diversity of our state needs to be protected and preserved for our future.


We appeal to all the political and social organisations, civil society groups, intelligentsia, academicians and particularly the youth to come forward so that a broader platform for struggle is evolved for alternative policies.