by Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo

The violent political disturbances in the Kashmir valley were ignited with the onset of the eighties of the last century when Punjab was burning with terror and communal fuel. Pakistan’s role in the terror camps, training and political support to terrorism in East Punjab was admitted by the Pakistan authorities openly and candidly. They warmed their hands well with the fire in the neighbourhood, that they started with all fanfare.

Around the same period, a large amount of literature coupled with some religious teaching stuff got into Kashmir in the mosques, colleges, universities and Madrassas somewhat all of a sudden. Though it was noteworthy, yet the Government in Jammu & Kashmir sat silent on the issue virtually allowing the “movement” to gain ground. The spread of the movement was tested in 1986 when large scale arson and loot of Hindu properties coupled with destruction and desecration of Hindu temples was affected meticulously by the zealots of the Tehreek.

The words like Tehreek, Azadi, Nizame-Mustafa and Yahan Kya Chalega were coined with precision and to target crowds. This trick worked and 1988-89 was used to dump arsenal in the valley with direct intervention of Pakistan. Around the end of 1989, the Tehreek had assumed the shape independent of Pakistan’s intervention, support, abatement and supply of arms. The Tehreek, however, was dependent upon Pakistan due to two direct reasons ie, Arms and Arms Training, notwithstanding the Pakistan’s political ambitions and plans in Kashmir.

As the Tehreek swelled, so was the need for men and materials. Easier said than done, some immediate methods were invented by the bosses of the Tehreek. As an immediate measure, some engineers of working divisions of the public works departments, heads of the Government departments and bureaucrats were asked to pay money to the movement and also a few millionaire Muslim businessmen of Jammu and Kashmir were made to pay money regularly.

By the turn of the nineties and also due to the impact of the extension of terrorism throughout Jammu and Kashmir, the requirement of funds extended beyond the budget. Pakistan started supplying fake currency into Jammu and Kashmir and also decided Hawala route to siphon funds to the Tehreek people. The route of extortion also was adopted as a temporary measure to use the method as a transitory tool. All these ways to generate funds for the success of the Tehreek in Kashmir got a shot in the arm when the mainstream political parties having their allegiance to left and left of centre also devised means through NGO business to pump in money into the valley. Human Rights facade was always there to mint money for the gullible.

It was a coincidence that a large scale recruitment drive (in Government offices) to occupy the positions of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits who were ethnically cleansed out of the valley also took place around the same time. Wage revisions of the Government employees, application of huge UGC pay scales to the teaching community of colleges and universities also played its role in boosting the second line of currency in the valley.

To many a people, when they see progress and affluence in Kashmir valley despite three decades of terrorism, death, destruction, blasts and explosions, it may be a surprise. Though all the above factors contributed to the so-called free flow of money, affluence and advancement in Kashmir and showoff in the social ceremonies, yet it exhibited only one face of the story. This author, while visiting extensively from north to south and east to west in Kashmir last year found a section of the society right there where it was in the 1980s, both economically and educationally. The poverty of this section of the society needs no intended exhibition, their social and economic situation is self explicit.

It proves the fact that the moneys (from whatever quarter these were got) have flown in only one direction. This direction was tightly secured by the funds managers with discreet strategy and definitely with the concurrence of the suppliers or the middlemen of the whole process. The poorer sections of the society, since they remain vulnerable, might have leaked the source or the link to the source. One more way of flow of money was undoubtedly the drug business that affluent sections of the society would control and plan. Their links to the newer and newer markets at the national and international level were only some inches away from them, thanks to the modern IT gadgetry easily available to all at their first call. The LoC Trade came as a big relief to those who had big business in mind to kill three with one stone. The under-charging, unequal barter exchange, the shift-value doctrine, late settlement and zakaat were used as modern zigzags to make things happen as they wanted. This was the best way to transfer funds to the secessionist elements working in tandem with the terror mechanism active on both the sides of the LoC.

Mughal Road was converted into a hotline where everything under the sun and the moon would be possible to make movement of men and materials a reality for the Tehreek. Bovine smuggling into Kashmir, drug movement from Punjab, supply of arms and explosives, hustle-bustle of terror operatives and illegal trading including human trafficking meant huge bundles of currency for everyone deeply involved in the affairs of the ultras disguised as Tehreek Mujahids.

Those sections of the Kashmiri Muslim society who went abroad for business, education, professional jobs or as visitors were allured or compelled in foreign countries by various agencies to receive money through their accounts and hand it over to the their concerned natives in their land of birth. The last three decades in Kashmir saw even a sort of Jazia being extorted by the terror managers and their secessionist colleagues in arms from registered Contractors, jungle destroyers, land grabbers, property encroachers and displaced Pandit property sellers and middlemen.

All put together made the Kashmir valley rich and richer but only the wrong way and for wrong cause. As got so spent, is an old saying…but Kashmir proved it wrong. A lot of people were lured to have a token of this heap of currency-curse by becoming stone peters and doing some odd jobs for the Tehreek.

The most unfortunate part of the whole process was that the flesh trade was also encouraged in the Valley by using this ill-gotten money from all available means and sources. The society of Kashmir instead of following the age old principles of simplicity, high thinking, penances, search for knowledge and spiritual pursuits of high order defined by Reshis, Munis and Sofis of Kashmir took the route that made it it’s own enemy at the cost of the future of the coming generations.

World today looks towards Kashmir as the next Syria, Afghanistan and Libya. Howsoever, camouflaging we may practice, truth comes out with a bang. Kashmir really needs a relook after four decades of madness, that left all of us bewildered in our own land, the land of Kashyap, Lalla and Nundreshi.

Is it possible to look back, introspect, rethink and reform. The society of Kashmir has a golden chance to start afresh, some leaders with fresh mind need to pick up the thread and grab the opportunity that the nature is going to provide in two month’s time. Determination, it seems, is definitely there on the south of Kashmir valley. Can it be met with the same amount of determination from inside the valley society is a million dollar question. I am an old optimist, Kashmir will rise to the occasion and its sons and daughters will not fail it. This is the time for deep introspection that we all need to use. Madness cannot last long, I am sure, it is the time that we call Nav-Bahaar.