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Kashmir: Dialogue – The only Course

The President delivered his speech with great vigour and gusto, and we must admire his performance. Unfortunately, he referred to everything under the sun excepting the most relevant and distressing features of our political situation at the moment. He referred to Andhra in passing without indicating as to what is the solution which Government intends to offer to this burning problem. It is unfortunate that he did not analyse or he did not even hint at the climate of violence which is generated in this country and for which one party alone, that is, the ruling party is responsible. The sheer logic of the way Government of India is behaving has created an impression that this Government which was brought to power by a massive mandate understands only one language, the language of violence. Violence does not erupt for nothing. It is not that people are seized of a mad instinct to destroy property. What happened in Andhra? Andhra was peaceful. Six months ago, an objective situation existed there. The Prime Minister and her colleagues with their prides and prejudices did not want to recognize and realities of the situation. That is what has given rise to such vast destruction of life and property in Andhra. It was a French student who said a few years after the disturbances: we have to burn a few buses and buildings so that they should take notice of us. This is exactly what the Government of India is telling the people: we will not listen to you howsoever reasonable and justified your demands unless you destroy railway coaches and buses and buildings. Every time there is an abatement of the movement in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress leaders come out with the statement that the movement has fizzled out because there is less violence. It is the Congress Government which has lent respectability and legitimacy to violence. It is unfortunate that the President has not referred to it.
In this context may I refer to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. There is a conspiracy of silence in every corner as for as the state of Kashmir is concerned. Neither the Members nor the parties in opposition nor the ruling party mention Kashmir, the reason being in Kashmir there is no violence. There has been a very healthy, significant historical development about the situation in Kashmir. We thought of a final solution to the problem of Jammu and Kashmir when we were talking to Mr. Bhutto of Pakistan. The Jam Sangh made a hue and cry of the final solution the Jan Sangh did not understand. I did understand. The final solution, not vis-à-vis Pakistan but a final solution vis-à-vis the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The fact has been recognized that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are not as happy or satisfied as they should have been and it was understood that a dialogue would start with the accredited leaders of Kashmir and this problem would be finally solved. A dialogue did take place and Mrs. Gandhi after having met Sheikh Abdullah talked of opening a new chapter. But that new chapter is a blank and it has been a monologue that has been going on. Sheikh Abdullah and Mirza Beg have made their position clear; they accept the reality of accession and the finality of accession. There cannot be happier news for the country than this. What has been the response from the Government? The response has been this. The Vice Chancellor of a University, for whom I have great respect, has been allotted a tutorial; he would take a tutorial period with Mirza Afzel Beg and Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. The Government of India does not even recognize the fact of dialogue why? The most popular, accredited leader of Kashmir says: I have to accept the reality of accession; I say that Kashmir should continue to be part of India. But there is no response because there is no violence in Kashmir. If tomorrow there is violence, the way we have in Andhra, Mrs. Gandhi and her colleagues would sit up..
Shri Piloo Mody: The movement in Andhra is not violent……..(Interruptions)
Shri S. A. Shamim: Whether it is the CRP people or the police people there, it is for Mr. Mody to judge.
Shri PilooMody: The only miscreants in Andhra are the CRP and the police.
Shri S. A. Shamim: …And a few who are not interrupting me. It was imperative; the Government understands only the logic of violence. Unfortunately for us who are in Kashmir, there is no railway property to destroy. Railway has been extended up to Jammu & the Jammu people are not interested in accommodating the leaders of Kashmir. It could have been very good news for the whole of the country. I do not think that the situation will remain as it is. The possibilities are that the people of Kashmir will get restive. The Govt. of India does not understand the language of peaceful dialogue and has more or less shown complete indifference to all our leaders have been saying. I should like Mrs Gandhi to show more of courage. It is all right, Mrs. Gandhi has prestige, pride, everything. But it is not greater than country’s prestige or honour. Should she not solve this problem for all times to come? This is the most auspicious occasion and it is time that Mrs. Gandhi starts a dialogue at her own level. Non-Political Vice-Chancellors, however well intentioned they may be, cannot solve a very knotty problem which has resulted in a war with Pakistan. The situation in Kashmir appears to be very peaceful actually. There has been talk of separation of Jammu from Kashmir. Separation of Andhra is not going to be the last. There are people who are deeply interested in upsetting the conditions in Kashmir. They have been talking of bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir. The author of this theory was Dr. Karan Singh, who happens to be one of the important Ministers in Mrs. Gandhi’s cabinet.
I am glad Mrs. Gandhi is in the house and I want to repeat what I said earlier. The dialogue going on between Sheikh Abdullah and Mrs Gandhi’s emissary should be taken up at the level of the Prime Minister and Sheikh Abdullah himself. This is very happy news that Sheikh Abdullah has recognized the realities of the situation. I have a vested interest in this because I have contributed my bit in making the Sheikh realize the realities of the situation. After all what is he asking for? He is asking for nothing more, nothing less than what has been given to him by the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution, namely, internal autonomy within the framework of India, within the Indian Union. India is a vast country and the people of Kashmir acceded to India in spite of the fact that Pakistan was coaxing the people of Kashmir with Quran in their hands and trying to persuade them through religious bigotry and sentiments. We should be given credit for it our act of faith should be recognized and we should not be treated with contempt. Mrs. Gandhi has shown courage. But courage has no boundaries. Every time there is a new challenge, it has to be met with courage. Mrs. Gandhi must realize that this opportunity may never come. You can today ignore Sheikh Abdullah but once his is not more on the scene, the new generation will not understand the language of secularism and the language of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi. It is high time you made use of the man who has fought shoulder to shoulder with you in the freedom struggle. You are today sending an SOS to Mr. Subba Reddy, you are inviting him, pocketing your pride because he is threatening to create havoc if Andhra is not separated. You only listen to the language of threat. May I remind you that the stage has come when we should understand the language of peace and understanding. I will be grateful to all the leaders of the opposition also if they break this conspiracy of silence and speak out the way they are speaking, about Andhra and Tamil Nadu and other States. Simply because Kashmir has been given a special status, there is this conspiracy of silence. It is time the people of Kashmir are taken into confidence and they are given a representative Government. I must take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude and sincere thanks to Syed Mir Qasim, the Chief Minister. He has really broken new ground and tried to normalize the atmosphere. For the first time the history of Jammu and Kashmir there were fair and free municipal elections. What has been done in the case of municipal elections, I am sure, will be done in the case of Assembly elections. And, let us hope there is going to be fair and free election for Parliament also in Jammu and Kashmir.
With these words, I would like to conclude by saying that the people of Kashmir are looking forward to a fruitful dialogue between Sheikh Abdullah and Mrs. Gandhi.

(This is the text of the speech made by late Shamim Ahmad Shamim on the floor of Lok Sabha on, Feb. 1973, advocating a credible dialogue with Kashmiris for a honourable solution of the problem)