BHUBANESWAR: Jammu-Kashmir Study Centre, a research organization set up in New Delhi two years ago, has undertaken a nationwide programme to sensitize people about the state.
"Jammu and Kashmir that came into its present form of political structure as a state on March 16, 1846, through a treaty signed by Maharaja Gulab Singh and British government, is strategically important and historically a unique part of India. It is shocking that due to some historical blunders, some parts of it are currently under the occupation of Pakistan and China, which the country will never give up its effort to get back. But it is equally surprising that a large number of people in India still do not know much about Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the ground reality there," said Arun Kumar, national convenor of the Centre, who came here on a three-day visit to the state.
He said contrary to popular perception, out of a total geographical area of 1.1 lakh sq km, 86,000 sq km area, comprising Ladakh and Jammu, has never seen anti-India protests. "Such protests have been confined to only Kashmir Valley, comprising an area of 15,000 sq km. And more importantly, the agitations have involved only Kashmiri speaking Sunni Muslims, a small sect of the valley's population. The Shia and Gujjar Muslims, who comprise 12% and 18% of the state's population respectively, have never vented anti-India views. It is an irony that whenever any public discussions have taken place, the separatist leaders, representing a minority view, project themselves as the sole representative of the voice of J&K people," he pointed out.
Kumar said similar myths persist on "plebiscite, special status in Article 370 and dispute over its accession, perpetuated by vested interests and international conspiracies". Kumar appealed to educated people and intellectuals for a "deeper study of documents, which are all in public domain, for objective and proper interpretation".
On Article 370, he said the provision was meant "to be in effect for a temporary period of time and the Constitution is clear about it. But massive frauds have been committed behind the cover of this Article and there is need to abrogate it, which is possible through a simple Presidential order". He also demanded voting rights for the lakhs of refugees from PoK, as done in the case of Kashmiri Pundits by providing them an Assembly segment of Habbakadal, enabling them to cast their votes from anywhere in India.