Monday, January 25, 2010 - Reopening of Mughal Road: History will not forgive BJP

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    • Reopening of Mughal Road: History will not forgive BJP
    • Hari Om
    • Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, father and founder of the National Conference and who usurped state power in 1947 with the full backing of the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, much to chagrin of the people of Jammu province, was a known protagonist of Greater Kashmir comprising Kashmir province and the Muslim-majority areas of Jammu and Ladakh regions.


      One of his plans was to make the medieval and dysfunctional Mughal Road connecting the Muslim-majority Poonch-Rajouri belt with the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley fully functional, so that he could play his nefarious games in the area and induce the Muslims of Poonch-Rajouri belt to help him achieve his ulterior goals.

    • In the period between 1953 and 1975, no one in Kashmir dared rake the issue of Mughal Road as Kashmiri rulers knew that New Delhi was opposed to the idea of the abandoned Mughal Road being made operational. New Delhi’s opposition stemmed from the fact that the Army and Intelligence agencies were of the considered view that reopening the Mughal Road would help Pakistan create troubles in the State’s border belt and endanger national security. Opposition also stemmed from the fact that reopening of the Mughal Road would make easy the task of those working for segregation of the Muslim-majority areas from Jammu and Ladakh regions and integrating them into Kashmir province.
    • It was Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral who, according to Naeem Akhtar, during a visit to the state, “announced that the central government would fund half of the cost of the road which would be the state subject”. Thus it was Inder Gujral, well-known for his notorious Gujral Doctrine (read pro-Pakistan line), who sided with the votaries of Mughal Road. But nothing came of it as the Border Roads Organization (BRO) refused to “prepare a detailed project report on the road which was a prerequisite to qualify for central funding”. The argument advanced by BRO was that it could not hand over “execution” of the project to the state government.


      Work on the Mughal Road project started in right earnest during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule, courtesy Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his BJP, which describes itself as an ultra-nationalist party and dubs most other political parties as pseudo-secular and consistently accuses Congress of being soft towards terrorism and the separatists!


      The BJP-led-NDA took this dangerous decision ignoring past history and against the wish of Congress Works Minister Madan Lal Sharma, who told the Assembly in 2003 that the project could not be taken up for “security reasons”.

    • Work on the Mughal Road is in progress and reports suggest it may become operational very soon. The reopening of the Mughal Road would not only help the protagonists of Greater Kashmir to accomplish their most cherished dream and de-link the Muslim-majority Poonch-Rajouri belt from Hindu-majority Jammu province, as Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did in 1979 in the case of the Muslim-majority Kargil area in Buddhist-majority Ladakh and in 1948 in the case of the Jammu’s Hindu-majority Udhampur district.


    • The author is Chair Professor, Gulab Singh Chair, Jammu University, Jammu               

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