By Sandhya Jain
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reflected the growing Anglo-American itch to interfere in Jammu & Kashmir with his recent comments about the need to end the unrest in the Valley, hints about expansion of the Security Council and the pious hope that India and Pakistan would furnish an ‘official request’ for the UN to play a role in Kashmir. He did admit India was a victim of international terrorism but declined to identify its source.
Mr Ban Ki-moon’s denial that the UN was planning to interfere in Jammu & Kashmir followed strong private (possibly also official) protests over the UN Information Centre’s ill-conceived decision to host an India Ragdo (crush India)-type of seminar in its official premises on September 29.
Touted as a dialogue, Sisters for Peace: Voices from Kashmir, the seminar was organised by the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia, the National Foundation for India and the UN Information Centre. The invitees were rabid secessionist women from Srinagar; the panelists were proudly anti-Hindu Left-liberals in whose ranks minority speakers and panelists could disguise their politico-religious agendas.
The zero representation provided to other stakeholders — nationalist Indian Hindus, ousted Kashmiri Pandits, Jammu Hindus, Sikhs from Kashmir Valley and Jammu Province, Buddhists from Ladakh, Shia and tribal Muslims from all parts of the State — made the seminar possibly the most blatant instance of a Dialogue Minus the Nation. It was brazenly for and about Sunni Muslims of the Valley. So startlingly upfront was its political intent to promote the Syed Ali Shah Geelani faction of Hurriyat Conference that New Delhi must demand an official inquiry and transfer of UN officials who approved the decision to host it and cleared the list of invitees and panelists. I noted the presence of one Anna Stanhammar, who maintained discreet silence and left before the arrival of the Union Home Secretary, who was invited to accept the seminar’s recommendations.
The seminar’s slant was obvious from the extreme impatience towards the few dissident voices. Mr Sajjad of Kargil, Ladakh, protested that “only the Valley wants azadi…We are suffering, tourist buses are being attacked and sent back, but we do not want azadi… The (all-party) peace delegation never came to us”. He was rudely asked to “shut up”.
A Pandit refugee said the mass exodus of four lakh Hindus in 1990 was to erase the Indian identity and pluralism of Kashmir Valley. It was followed by further massacres such as 1997 Sangrampura, then Nandimarg, then Chittisingpora, and now the Sikhs have got an ultimatum. When he said a nurse called Sarla Bhatt, who kept a tab on the militants, was cut into two pieces, he was simply silenced. Thereafter, Ms Meenakshi Gopinath (a candidate for the Vice-Chancellor’s job in Delhi University from which post her insidious agenda can be promoted more vigorously), advised speakers to “stop the litany of injustices and break out of victimhood”. This sage counsel was exclusive to Hindus; all Kashmiri Muslim women were given the liberty to defame the security forces and demand secession from India.
Following this homily, Ms Anjum Zamarud Habib of the Geelani Hurriyat faction made an intensely political speech, calling India a ‘slave nation’ and demanding that Jammu & Kashmir be seen as an issue of self-determination and not law and order. “Boys with stones in their hands can never be defeated. I tell you, they can never be defeated.” Her thundering declamation astonished even the organisers who asked her to wind up, at which she retorted, “I will not speak at all if you stop me.” They were cowed and never stopped a single Muslim speaker thereafter. She continued, “Young boys are carrying coffins on their shoulders daily, women are dishonoured, men are alive to take revenge — that is the reality.” Attempts by a retired General and a CRPF officer to correct this mischief were treated with polite disdain.
Another woman said they had a right to protest against India. “Hamara buniyadi haq hai azadi.” She was allowed to show a film clip of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and what purported to be Army violence (actually patrolling) in the streets. Then she chanted slogans for secession from India, to which Ms Nancy Kaul, convener, Daughters of Vitasta, took strong objection.
At this disruption, Ms Sayeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, of Minister of State rank, came rushing across the hall with Ms Mohini Giri, former chairperson, National Women’s Commission, and daughter-in-law of late President VV Giri. Walking past the shouting secessionist, both women made straight for Ms Kaul and made her sit down, even as the separatist continued her anti-India diatribe.
When the commotion settled, this writer raised a point of order: “This was supposed to be a non-political seminar, yet provocative political speeches preaching secession have been made in the presence of a serving Member of the Planning Commission and a former chairperson of the National Women’s Commission; can you two ladies please clarify your position on the same?” At this, Ms Hameed clammed up, while Ms Giri pleaded, “She has the right to speak, my daughter, let us listen to all.” A rabid woman journalist piped up, “We cannot isolate Zamruda; they all speak like this in Srinagar and the streets of Kashmir.”
Emboldened, Ms Quratulain, a teacher in a Government college in Srinagar, asserted that Jammu & Kashmir was a 60-year-old problem, especially in the last two decades and again the last four months. Since the death of a youth in June this year, she said, “no MLA can face the mob and go to his constituency. India cannot keep Jammu & Kashmir without use of force. The youth are on the side of Geelani, education and development are rejected by Jammu & Kashmir…”
Since this anti-national seminar got its weight from women holding Government posts, the Union Government needs to examine the sedition laws and take appropriate action.
Finalising the recommendations to submit to the Union Home Secretary (whom UN officials failed to alert regarding the content of the proceedings), Ms Hameed endorsed Ms Jyotsna Chatterjee’s suggestion of peace committees on the pattern of East Timor. Surely she is aware that the UN partitioned Indonesia in violation of its Charter which states that it will not promote secessionist tendencies in any member state?
Former Member of Parliament Subhasini Ali said interlocutors being appointed by the Union Home Ministry must include 50 per cent women. It is our considered opinion that none of those present at the seminar are eligible for a mission to rescue the nation.
Source: Daily Pioneer
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