Kashir Channel : Too little, too late
By Hari Om
OnJune,9,JammuandKashmir(J&K)Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah launched at Srinagar a one kilo watt high power transmitter for Doordarshans Kashir Channel. Information Minister Arun Jaitley was also present on the occasion. The inaugural function was followed in the evening by a grand cultural show at the prestigious Grand Palace in which a number of Bollywood film stars participated.
According to one estimate, several crores of rupees have been spent on this ambitious project and cultural show. During the inaugural ceremony and at the beginning and end of the mega cultural show, the speakers told that the Kashmir Channel has been launched with a view to entertaining the Kashmiris through special programmes and projecting their ethnic and cultural ethos. All this indicates that the motive behind this enterprise is to controvert the pernicious influence which the PTV continues to create in the Muslim-majority areas of this part of J&K, lay bare the evil intentions of Islamabad and induce the Kashmirs (read a section of the Valley Sunnis as all others are out and out pro-India) to reject the idea of the medievalist, theocratic, dictatorial and feudalistic Pakistan and azaadi and have full faith in the liberal, progressive, democratic and secular India.
Will the Kashir Channel produce the desired results and bring the "alienated" Kashmiris back to the countrys mainstream? Or, will they reject Pakistan as a disturber of peace and-socio-religious equilibrium and as the one responsible for the destruction of the Kashmiri economy and erosion of what is frequently termed as "Kashmiriat"? Unfortunately, the answer cannot be yes. If anything, it will provide employment to some and enrich further a few serial makers, intermediaries and others engaged in the production business at it has been happening in the country for quite some time now.
There are several cogent reasons which make it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Kashir Channel may not turn out to be that useful venture and that it will have a few takers. At least five of them need to be catalogued here.
We are always casual in our approach and not professional. We lack the killers instinct and the required vision.
The powers-that-be in New Delhi have (re)acted at a time when Islamabad, ably backed by all the "Jehadist" forces in Pakistan, has, in collaboration with the Jamait-e-Islami President and Kul Jamait Hurriyat Conference Chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others of his ilk, already played mischief and created a class in the Valley which hates everything Indian. It has become one of the fundamental briefs of the Kashmiris that the Doordarshan is an organ which not only spreads misinformation but also promotes the non-Islamic culture. They have also come to believe that the PTV alone represents the Kashmiri ethos and gives true and trustworthy information on Kashmir problem and happenings in the Valley.
The Kashmiris firmly believe that they and their religion have no future in the "brutal" India and that any truck with Infidel India is against the holy covenant.
The Central government has no Kashmir policy. It has at no point of time during all these years of independence treated the Kashmiris at par with other Indians. On the contrary, it all along has treated them as a race apart and taken steps which consistently held them aloof from the mainstream politics. The policy at present is no different. The present government, like the previous governments, has adopted an approach which, if pursued any further, would only embolden the Kashmiri separatists and fundamentalists and advance the Pakistani cause in Kashmir. Take, for example, the two most recent postures. And, both have been adopted by the North Block. One relates to the much-talked about dialogue between the Union government and the Pakistani agents in the Kul Jamait Hurriyat Conference. The other is to the effect that the Government of India can consider the issue of greater autonomy if it can solve the Kashmir problem. Both these demonstrate that we are ourselves willing to walk into the Pakistani trap.
An irresponsible, corrupt and highly biased state administration and total apathy towards the basic and real needs of the people of J&K like the safe drinking water, health care, education et al. A reference to just one instance would be enough to determine the nature of the prevailing state of affairs in the terrorist-infested J&K, J&K Minister of State for Power Ghulam Hassan Bhat, who was blown to pieces by the Pakistani-sponsored terrorists at Doru in Kashmir on May 15, wanted to ensure adequate and uninterrupted power supply to the Kashmiri consumers and for this he needed three big transformers costing approximately nine crores of rupees. He appealed to the concerned authorities to sanction the required amount. But all his requests failed to move them. Their reply always was that there is financial crunch. This and similar other official actions have only widened the gulf between the ruler and the ruled and aggravated the alienation process.
What, then, is the need of the hour? The need of the hour is to revise our 53-year-old Kashmir policy and undertake measures which provide a people-centric, clean, fair and responsive administration, free the PoK and Northern Territories from the clutches of Islamabad and integrate all the regions of the state fully with India. We have also to ensure that the area of contention and strife remains confined to the Kashmir valley. This means we have to reorganise the state polity on a regional basis. The Home Ministers June 7 Leh formula that "power should flow from Delhi to Srinagar and from Srinagar to Leh and Jammu" would not do. It has all the potential of aggravating the dark scenario of regional mistrust and bitterness and rendering the minorities helpless. Besides, we must check our own men who masquerade as trouble shooters but preach virtually secession. Again, we have to bear in mind that spending lavishly on the not-so-useful projects like the Kashmir Channel and cultural shows of the type we held at Srinagar and not on the public utility schemes would neither isolate Pakistan nor defeat the "jehadists". It would also fail to protect and promote the nations paramount interests.
*The author is a Professor of History of Jammu University and member ICHR.
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