Kaleem Kawaja


The resurgence of ugly Hindu-Muslim violence in the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in the last month is very disturbing.  The manner in which all of the J&K state’s political parties have fanned sectarian feelings between the two communities, exploiting a small event, and the poor management of this episode by the government reflects poorly on the secular character of the Indian nation.


The politicians in the Kashmir valley from various major parties, over-reacted by organizing huge protest rallies to the state government allotting a tract of land to the Amarnath shrine to build rest-houses for the large number of Hindu pilgrims from India.  Why such an intense reaction from Kashmiri Muslims to this event?  After all during the 600 year long rule of Muslims in India there are countless examples of Muslim rulers donating tracts of land and even whole villages to Hindu temples.  Also in India itself the government building rest houses for Muslim pilgrims for Hajj and Hindu pilgrims for various pilgrimage events is a centuries old custom.


The fears of Kashmiri Muslims that this will lead to the building of a large permanent settlement of non-Kashmiri Hindus in Kashmir was compounded by irresponsible handling of the affair by the J&K state government.   The government should have built and managed the rest houses themselves, thereby allaying the fears.


Then came the over-reaction of the politicians from the Hindu-majority Jammu region of the state.  They blocked the major roads into the Kashmir valley thereby cutting off daily supplies of fuel, food, and medicine into the Kashmir valley and started rioting against the Muslim minority in the Jammu region.   Also one political party organized nationwide strikes in many cities in India in sympathy with Hindus.


The central government and army over-reacted with utmost callousness by indiscriminate shooting at processions and rallies in the Kashmir valley resulting in the deaths of over two dozen mostly Muslim Kashmiris.


How can the leaders of Muslims and Hindus and the leaders of political parties and even the Indian government behave in such an irresponsible manner?

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