Senior PDP leader Muzzaffar Hussain Baig has stirred a hornet’s nest in Kashmir valley by suggesting that a middle path be adopted on the issue of West Pakistan refugees who have been living in the state for the last sixty years but have been denied the state citizenship. The suggestion by Baig to treat this issue as humanitarian, and to resolve this crisis keeping in mind the tenets of Islam has ruffled many feathers in Kashmir Valley, particularly those who have a communal, separatist, and pro-Pakistan mindset, and does not want peace in the state. Baig has even invoked the teachings of holy Quran to make his point, and said that the refugees have been living here for the last half century, and should be treated as fellow citizens. Despite a barrage of attacks on the PDP leader, he has stood his ground, and on Sunday also said that he had not specified the parameters of solution to this problem but only indicated how it could be resolved. It is not a political problem, and the question which is underlying is whether these people can be granted permanent citizenship under the Constitution of the state, he asserted.
Baig also said that at present the constitution of the state does not have any provision to grant citizenship. He also went on to say that the issue of migrants could be understood in the context of how Islam treats the migrants, and the Hindus could also have their own point of view on this issue. “Is there anything wrong in suggesting that Muslims should follow the tenants of their faith in finding a solution to this humanitarian problem? Finally I indicated that if refugees from Pakistan who are already enjoying the citizenship of India, are to be given status of permanent residency of the State, then wouldn’t it be possible for Bangladeshi refugees in India to claim similar status where-ever they are presently settled in India. Am I wrong in pointing out this crucial issue for the consideration of Government of India?”
By raising the issue of West Pakistan refugees Baig has done well to stir the pot in Jammu and Kashmir as this community has been living a miserable life in the state. They have been denied citizenship, jobs, education, and every other facility which is available to a natural citizen of the state. A special committee of the Parliament has already recommended that the refugees be granted permanent status. However, the manner in which National Conference, a mainstream political party, and the separatist groups including the JKLF, the JKDFP, Hurriyat and other groups have responded to his suggestion makes it clear that they are not ready to treat West Pakistan refugees as humans but as a burden on the state,
Ayaz Akbar, spokesman for a Kashmir based outfit alleged : NC’s founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah sold Kashmir for power, Peoples Democratic Party seems to have traded honor and dignity of the state”.
Former terrorist and now a self styled leader of Kashmir said Yasin Malik said: “Baig’s remarks about WP refugees are meant to appease his RSS masters to get the union ministry. The statement of Baig is a glaring example of his Kashmir enmity”.
Another self styled leader Shabir Ahmad Shah said: “By raking up the issue of WPRs, the PDP is trying to strike a good deal with BJP on government formation in the state. Such nonsense of finding ‘middle path’ can come only from the mouth of a failed lawyer”.
NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said: “No non-state subject can become a permanent resident of Jammu & Kashmir and the NC will oppose any such move tooth and nail”. “Being an imminent lawyer, Baig should have thought hundred times before making such assertions. The NC would stand like a rock in the way of implementation of such moves. We will not allow settlement of WPRs,” he also said.
It is clear that political and separatist outfits in Kashmir are never going to understand the humanitarian issues which involve others, and their entire politics is centered around themselves. The people of Jammu and Ladakh, and other regions does not matter to the politicians in Kashmir but they want autonomy, freedom, and an end to AFSPA for themselves but are not ready to accede an inch to others. Here one is reminded of the incident in Mahabharata where Duryodhan, the powerful Kaurava prince refused to share even five villages with Pandavas, and famously said that he wont give land equal to the point of a needle. The result of this obstinacy led to the great war in which entire dynasties were lost, and immense sufferings to the people. Similar situation is emerging in Kashmir with the politicians, civil society, and the people not ready to share anything with the lower mortals of Jammu and Ladakh. They should understand that the geo-politics in South Asia has changed, Pakistan is itself plagued with terrorism, and India has become too strong to be broken through terrorism. In such a situation adopting a flexible approach with respect to Jammu, Ladakh, and Delhi would be far better for them as well as the people of the state.