Skip to main content

Ex-Navy chief: No amount of muscular policy can quell anger, alienation of Kashmir youth

Counterview Desk
Admiral L Ramdas (retd), former former Chief of the Naval Staff, PVSM AVSM VrC VSM, and Magsaysay Awardee for Peace, in a letter to the President of India, has argued, in the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Kashmir, that there cannot be a military solution to the Kashmir problem; it has to be a political one, he insists, adding, a political solution must involve a genuine and continuous dialogue with the people of Kashmir – including dissidents and separatists, and governments of Pakistan and India.

Text of the letter

This is Admiral Ramdas -- former Chief of the Naval Staff, writing to you yet again – this time on the tragic deaths of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Jawans in the IED attack on their convoy in Pulwama on February 14, 2019 and subsequent events.
Over 40 precious lives, belonging to the CRPF were lost in the service of the Nation on February 14, 2019. This was indeed a despicable act, and a tragic event, and those guilty must be punished.
While the event has understandably evoked strong and angry reactions from every corner of the country and all sections of the people, it is also clear that such an event should never have happened on such an important strategic highway, especially in view of some reports that speak of there having been some intelligence reports to this effect in possession of the police and Intelligence agencies.
It is reported that this attack was planned and executed by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). There are questions as to how and why a lone vehicle packed with RDX was able to penetrate a convoy and wreak such havoc, these and many more questions will no doubt be the subject of internal inquiries both by the CRPF and other agencies of the State.
As a former head of the Navy and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, and also someone who, after retirement in 1993, has devoted most of his time in the pursuit of peace with Pakistan by pushing for a people to people dialogue, my concerns, are listed below.
We must resolve the Kashmir problem through dialogue which must involve all three partners to the dispute – namely, the people of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), India and Pakistan. This is a position I have advocated for several decades now – after having studied the intractable nature of what is popularly called the K word, but which has continued to extract a heavy toll on both countries and above all on the suffering of the unfortunate people of J&K.
We continue to proclaim that they are an integral part of India. If indeed that is so, then they must be treated as such, as equal citizens -- be they in Jammu, the Valley or in Ladakh. Had we done that we would have been less likely to see the levels of alienation, especially of young people.
If both countries are willing to engage each other on the Kartarpora corridor – then why not on the Line of Control (LoC), and other core concerns around Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The sooner we make it known that we are open to dialogue with all stakeholders and begin this process in all seriousness and sincerity, the more likely we are to make some headway with the people in J&K.
If a young Adil can blow himself up in the cause of freedom, aazadi or the long promised autonomy for Kashmir, it is the strongest indicator yet of the levels of anger and alienation that the youth of the state are experiencing today. No amount of force as part of the avowedly “muscular” Kashmir policy can quell this. We must act now and sit across the table and have an honest dialogue with all parties concerned. It might already be too late.
The most serious fallout of this attack on our jawans in Awantipora has been the unprecedented outbreak of harassment, mob violence, attacks, insults and abuse levelled at many Kashmiris across the country. Soon this might spill over to Muslims across India. We cannot allow this to continue and spread with dire consequences which are hard to assess.
The only solution is political and not military. And a political solution must involve a genuine and continuous dialogue with the people of Kashmir – including dissidents and separatists; the Government of Pakistan and the Government of India.
What can be done -- Immediately
In your capacity as the Head of State and our Supreme Commander, and the oath you have taken to uphold the Constitution, I urge you to take steps as outlined below, which is entirely within your command, and a part of your duty and responsibility:
a. It is imperative that the situation should not be allowed to escalate into greater hostilities which it might not always be possible to contain. As the Supreme Commander, you must caution our own leaders about the very real dangers of the present standoff escalating into a war situation – and quickly going beyond a conventional engagement – given that both India and Pakistan are two nuclear armed countries.
b. The decisions on next steps must be taken with due diligence, and weighing all the options and their implications . We cannot allow the hysterical media anchors and social media anger to influence or pressurise decisions at the highest level. The atmosphere at present is by no means conducive to decisions being taken in a calm and considered manner – with emotions and reactions being inflamed and incited in an often deliberate and irresponsible manner.
c. Let India take the high moral ground by declaring an unconditional Hold Fire – pending detailed enquiries into the attack on the convoy in Pulwama . This way we will ensure that the facts are investigated, and the truth behind the attack be established without delay. I am sure that this will have a salutary effect and ensure seamless actions further ahead.
d. We must immediately put a halt to the terrible media war being waged on innocent Kashmiris who are going about their business quietly in towns and cities across the country . This message must come from the highest level – and the Honorable Prime Minister must be advised that he can halt this current backlash in minutes if he so chooses, by issuing stern and clear warnings against any violence and threats and harassment against citizens – be they Kashmiri or indeed Muslim citizens. , through every channel, cadre and social media. To avoid aggravating the present situation of fear and insecurity and preventing further bloodshed, action on this must be taken with utmost speed.
e. Enable an impartial and independent judicial enquiry. This group should comprise serving judges of the Supreme court.
The nation as a whole seems to be going through a lot of uncertainties especially about the threats of retaliation. Such posturing, especially between two nuclear armed states, is highly risky. This time around we may not be able to contain this to the conventional type of warfare. The situation is even more delicate given the impending elections, communal disturbances and fears of breakdown of law and order.
We must not allow any of the above to happen. We have a lot of strategic and human interests in (J&K) and the country as a whole and we must protect both these. This can only happen by winning the hearts and minds of the people, especially of J&K. Let us remember that military force can never erase an “idea”. We need to do some serious reflection of our own policies and conduct these past 70 years.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.