Executive Summary of the Delhi Policy Group Report on Jammu and Kashmir

18 Aug, 1998    ·   136

Executive Summary of the Delhi Policy Group- April 1998

This report makes a number of recommendations about how to return Jammu and Kashmir to Peace and tranquility. It bases its recommendations on the assumption that the militancy has lost considerable ground and that an elected government has taken office and is likely to remain office in the State for the foreseeable future. It also assumes that, while the militancy is down, it is not out. This reflects another assumption, namely, that the militancy is supported by foreigners who are committed to fomenting violence.



Our recommendations are organized in four sections: Center-State relations; governance; Security; and foreign policy. Center-State relations have been at the heart of the differences between the State and the Government of India. These differences have been compounded by difficulties relating to governance. Governance covers a number of areas but principally developmental issues and administration broadly conceived including the judicial and legal system. The dispute over Center-State relations and bad governance have contributed to, or at least rationalized, the resort to violence by the militants. The internal and external security problems of the State are the most serious immediate challenges, even though the situation has greatly improved. Finally, India ’s handling of the problems of Jammu and Kashmir is influenced by foreign powers, particularly by Pakistan which has been deeply involved is fostering and sustaining the militancy.



Center-State Relations and Regional Balance



Center-State relations can be restored to health by a six-point plan. First, we believe that the nomenclature, Sadar-I-Riyasat and Wazir-e-Azam for the Governor and Chief Minister, respectively, as was the case until the early 1960s, should be restored.



Second, the State should be given a role in the selection of the Governor. Three methods are available for doing so: election by the State legislature; or, preferably, selection from a panel of names to be submitted by the Legislature; and legislative approval of a name submitted by the President.



Third, Article 356, which deals with the breakdown of the constitutional machinery in a State and which has been widely criticised in other States, should not be misused. The team recommends that elections should be held within a maximum of six months from the use of Article 356 provisions. If this is not possible for reasons of instability, the report endorses the view of the 1983 Srinagar declaration which promises that the President would consult the Inter-State Council. The team also suggests that an Eminent Persons Group review the situation in the State every three months in case elections cannot be held within six months.



Fourth, we recommend that the State services be revitalized. A number of steps can be taken. These include increasing the quota of promotes from the State services to the Central services for a period of twenty years, improving selection and training, and speeding up promotions.



Fifth, on the basis of Article 324 (4), we recommend that a Regional Election Commissioner for Jammu and Kashmir be appointed to assist the Election Commission of India. Negotiations with representatives of the people of the State will be necessary for a more extended revision of Center-State relations. A provision may need to be introduced into the Constitution, which would necessitate a referendum in the State to ratify any major amendments that would effect its ties with the Center.



Sixth, we recommend the following measures to ensure a harmonious balance between Jammu , Kashmir and Ladakh:



·                     The provinces of Jammu and Kashmir should each have roughly equal representation in the Cabinet. If the Chief Minister is from one province, the Deputy Chief Minister should be from the other.


·                     The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council should be strengthened, granted police powers, and the Deputy/Development Commissioner should be made directly accountable, in letter and in spirit, to the LAHDC.


·                     Long-neglected ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities must have seats reserved for them in the legislative assembly. Pundits, Gujjars and Bakerwals should particularly be given a voice in the legislature.


·                     The five-tier federal structure proposed in the 1970s by the Sheikh Abdullah government should replace the present Panchayati Raj three-tier structure. This would include the gram sabha, the block samiti, the zila parishad and regional legislative councils for the three provinces with adequate reservations for minorities in the provinces.





We believe that three are four essential pre-requisites to ensuring good governance in Jammu and Kashmir: first, a strong and stable economic infrastructure that can help to unleash the entrepreneurial potential of the people of the State as well as as generate employment; second, an accountable, streamlined and people-sensitive administrative machinery; third, a speedy grievance redressal system that includes an upright and effective judiciary; and fourth, a revival of Kashmir’s traditionally tolerant society and its expression in the form of Kashmiriyat. All four have been absent in the State through most of this decade. Only once these are in place can we hope for an economically viable and politically and socially stable Jammu and Kashmir .



We strongly believe that plans for the economic resuscitation of the State must remain rooted in its strong agricultural and especially horticultural base. Strengthening the cooperative movement should be an important element. Power generation is a key priority, with the State capable of generating close to 15,000MW of hydroelectric power. It could then become an exporter of power. However, we also feel that the transmission and distribution of power must gradually be shifted to the private sector. Central assistance towards power generation is vital, and Jammu and Kashmir has a legitimate claim to receive such assistance since the Indus Water Treaty of 1960 curtailed the State’s rights on the upper Chenab , Jhelum , and Indus for purposes of even non-consumptive hydroelectric storage and diversions within these basins.



Education, up to the post graduate level, is free in Jammu and Kashmir , and yet less than 30% of its population is literate. There are nearly 1,50,000 educated unemployed but there is also a shortage of skilled workers. These are only some of the ironies of the State’s skewed educational policy. We recommend that the State Government prioritize primary and vocational education. It may be necessary to stop providing free education beyond the 12th class and use the additional resource so generated to strengthen lower levels of education.



While only 30,000 people were directly dependent on tourism during the peak of traffic in 1987-88, tourist inflows can add do have a huge multiplier effect. More important, the return of tourists can be of great psychological importance: economic and political normalcy is often equated with the presence of tourists. Regular tourism may not immediately revive, but the State can actively pursue Yatra and adventure tourism. Vaishno Devi in Jammu , the Amarnath Cave in Kashmir , and the Hemis and other gumpas in Ladakh have already become pilgrimage centers. With better facilities, these pilgrimage sites will become even more popular. There is clearly also an NRI tourist market waiting to be tapped and the conversion of Srinagar airport into an international one, with facilities to at least receive charter flights, will greatly facilitate this. The rai link to Srinagar is vital for both strategic as well as tourist reasons, as is an all-weather road to Leh from Srinagar .



The State services, particularly the Kashmir Administrative Service and the Kashmir police service, are today in a parlous condition. Until 1997, there had been no recruitment for thirteen years. We believe that recruitment must be regular. Other measures for revitalizing these services include improved training and secondment with the central government for three years after initial training. At the same time, we recommend that the state government reduce the total number of employees by 25 percent over the next ten years.



The State Government had announced the formation of a human rights commission in 1996, but the Commission has still not begun working. It is vital that the Commission be activated as soon as possible and be as independent of the government as is possible. Such a commission will provide the ordinary commission a much-needed institutional outlet for the redressal of grievances.



The judiciary needs to be restructured, especially at the district and sessions level. We recommend that the State Government, in consultation, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court appoint a legal reforms committee. For the long term, the State Government should consider establishing a State Law School on the National Law School in Bangalore .



The print and electronic media have flourished since 1989, but have been beset by a lack professionalism. We feel that the Media Education Research Center in the University of Kashmir should be strengthened, equipped with the State-of-art facilities, and an internship programme with the national dailies should also be introduced.



Only the revival of Kashmir traditional civil society, based on the syncretic cultural ethos of Kashmiriyat, can generate social stability in the long term. It is vital, therefore, that Kashmiri Pundits be rehabilitated in the valley. Pundits will return, it is clear, only if they are assured of an honorable and secure life in the valley. On the one hand, the State Government must provide adequate security assurances to all those who are willing to return and give their property back to them. On the other hand, the State Government must encourage a dialogue between Pundits and Muslims at the village and mohalla levels. A blanket ban on the sale of Pundit property has been introduced and must be continued. Specific incentives can be provided to NGOs to promote confidence-building-measures between the two communities.






The security threat to Jammu and Kashmir arises essentially from Pakistan ’s support of the various militant groups. Pakistani strategy is likely to remain a dual one-increasing the use of foreign Islamic mercenaries and escalating the intensity of militant strikes through the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other more sophisticated weapons. India ’s response has been effective, especially after the initial period of the insurgency. Thus, we support the general approach that guides security operations.



First, since Pakistan is likely to continue to infiltrate militants into the State, managing the Line of control must continue to be a priority requiring a four-tier patrolling system, real time intelligence gathering and sharing, a dynamic leadership style from local commanders, and improved interdiction technologies.



Second, a Unified Headquarters has served the counterinsurgency effort well and should be maintained. It requires a dedicated staff drawn from different services, should meet more often, and should be organized at four levels-the state, sub-State, Divisional, and District levels. At the District level, we recommend that the authorities oversee the implementation of policies and monitor development projects. This will require District HQs to have some financial authority.



Third, the deployment of forces in a counterinsurgency (CI) grid should continue on a more or less permanent basis.



Fourth, the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) should be the main counterinsurgency force. The officers of the RR should be drawn from the regular Army, and the force should be organized on a regimental basis. The BSF should be used as a subsidiary force, and if it is continue in its counterinsurgency role it should have a special wing for these duties. This wing should should have younger personnel, should be specially organized and trained for their special duties, and should adopt a regimental system. The J&K Police force must be ultimately bear the brunt of policing. It must be enlarged, its training must be improved, and its morale needs to be repaired. Rational promotions and improved housing are among the measures required to boost morale.



Fifth, the Indian Army must keep up with the growing technological sophistication of the militants. Four areas deserve priority: acquisition of a light combat weapons, better crowd control weapons, specialized communication and transmission detection systems, and lightweight personal protection gear.



Sixth, local resistance must be strengthened by the settiing up of Village Defence Committees and Village Defence Guards who are given a modicum of training, arms, and communications facilities.



Seventh, various weaknesses in the intelligence system must be remedied. Finally, the ‘friendlies’ and surrendered militants must be rehabilitated. Protected housing, stipends, and employment in the paramilitaries, police, forest protection force, and Village Defence Committees are measures that have already been taken or are under active consideration. We support these. Additionally, a programme of skill enhancement and self-employment loans is vital for the long term.



Foreign Policy



India ’s foreign policy in respect of the Kashmir problem has been deft enough over the past several years. But we believe that the time has come to go further. The central recommendation of the team is that India should seek a division of Jammu and Kashmir more or less along the present line of Control. India should be prepared to make certain territorial adjustments in order to get a more rational devotion. In addition, it should urge that the two sides agree to a soft though regulated border, which would permit relatives, traders, and tourists to move back and forth more easily.



To bring Pakistan round, it will be necessary to embark on a more ambitious programme of cooperation with Pakistan . The first part of such a programme will involve military cooperation consisting of a no-war pact, confidence-building measures (CBMs), a defensive defence posture, and a nuclear safely,assistance, and coloration zone (NSACZ). The first component of the NSACZ would involve four declarations-no first use, no use against non-nuclear powers, no use against populations centers, and no first test. The second component of the NSACZ would require the setting up of a crisis management center, a dedicated hotline between the nuclear establishments, and an exchange programme between nuclear scientists. The last component of the NSACZ would be joint investment and manning of nuclear reactors designed and located to meet the region’s energy needs.



The second part of a programme of cooperation with Pakistan is a political one focussed on setting the smaller disputes with Pakistan , especially Siachen, but also Sir Creek and Wullar.



The third area cooperation is economic. India must engage Pakistan on trade by making concessions on Pakistani exports, facilitate visas for Pakistani businessmen, and encourage contacts between business associations. On energy, India should revisit the issue of oil pipelines from the Gulf and Central Asia via Pakistan . Other schemes, involving Bangladesh as well, should be high on the energy cooperation agenda.



Fourth, track two contacts at a variety of levels should be encouraged by India so that a much degree of social cooperation is achieved.



Finally, India should take advantage of the geopolitical situation after the Cold War to build new relationships with third parties who called help bring Pakistan round to accepting the division of Jammu and Kashmir as part of an overall settlement. Key third parties include the United States , China , and the Muslim countries. Maintaining a nuclear dialogue with the U.S. counting the border and CBM talks with China , expanding economic relations with both the U.S. and China , and using Saudi Arabia , Iran and the Central Asian states in a limited good offices role are key policy directions to pursue.



These recommendations are ambitious. They cover a number of areas. Some are vital in the near and medium term; others clearly are long term endeavors. However nothing less than a through and systematic programme of action will suffice if the troubles of Kashmir are to be ended. Quite a number of the problems of Kashmir are to be found in other States and commensurately some of the recommendations we make apply to other parts of the Union . The programme that we outline, here, therefore, has wider implications