Indian constitution had envisaged religious freedom of every citizen and state in no way is allowed to interfere into the religious affairs of its subjects. The secular façade of the system of governance forbids the government from patronizing, showering any favour or resorting to any kind of appeasement to any religion or religious concept. In other words religion and running of affairs of religion does not come under the administrative control of state unless it does not clash with the security and sovereignty of the state. But government is duty bond to facilitate the fulfilment of religious obligations of its citizens within the constructional parameters. This is how many religious bodies like wakaf boards, prabandhak committees and managements of other religious organization are run under the close supervision and with financial assistance of government. Many religious organizations are being run by the believers of their own without any assistance from the state. Where ever religious bodies are financially sound the management is always being hijacked by unscrupulous socio-political elements with ulterior mottos and in case of financially weak institutions government is persuaded and pressurised to step-in for assistance.
For last many years some sensible elements in government could gauge and asses the potential of religious bodies and tried to turn them into profitable ventures for the betterment of the society and the concerned religious groups in particular and above all put an end to exploitation within these bodies. The trend is being followed by all the state governments and state of Jammu and Kashmir is no difference. Shaping of Mata Veshino Devi shrine board, SASB and Wakaf board in the state was a step in this direction and ended the exploitation of religious assets and property for political and personal needs by certain vested interests to some extent. Legitimizing these religious bodies was a welcome step but their formation was enforced in haste and at times under influence of personal vendetta and political animosity giving rise to several legal and technical drawbacks. These boards under the indirect control of government were created in the best interest of public but under the carpet the whole exercise was conducted to brow beat several powerful political opponents and hostile organizations. While formulating these boards the political system in power made many blunders and the administrative structures were shaped involving ceremonial power centres which was bound to give way to controversies. For running administration of these socio-religious bodies involving governor of the state does not make any sense and in a state like Jammu and Kashmir it becomes more senseless an act. Governors being head of the state should in no case meddle in religious affairs with political ramifications at occasions. In this state the post of governor has been controversial from the day its nomenclature was changed.
Several intellectuals and political watchdogs in India have pointed their fingers towards the role of governors as agents of the federal government in the states encouraging debate regarding the necessity of governor’s post. Role of governors in several states had come under scanner from time to time. Its is a well known fact that governors are virtual rubber stamps wrapped in silken scarves used only on the occasions of oath taking ceremonies and start of the assembly sessions. Under these circumstances and restricted powers governor should show some nobility and restrain from involving ceremonial gubernatorial post in controversies. Article 370 of Indian constitution further puts some moral latches on any political adventurism of governor. In context of these unwritten moral restrictions any sensible person holding the post of governor should have politely refused to head any such religious body. As this ill conceived process was bound to lead to controversies so the present disturbance is the fall out of these legal blunders, moral short sightedness and administrative mismanagement. Raj Bhawans is the ceremonial seat of power and much sanctity is attached to it as an institution, any interference with its purity will erode the effectiveness of instruments of governance. Unfortunately for last many weeks this noble place was converted into control room of bashing people of the state and their representatives at the hands of bureaucrats who are being paid from the tax payer’s money. With due regards to the first citizen of the state even after his venturing into rough terrain of exploiting sentiments of his subjects we as people should seek prosecution of these over enthusiastic bureaucrats for creating a chaotic situation which lead to killing of innocent people and loss of property. By share arrogance of the shrine board administration and absolute patronage from first citizen of the state SASB has virtually created a state within the state with its headquarters at Raj Bhawan. This is the most unfortunate part of Indian democracy where head of the state is instigating an organization against the state. If some one other than the governor had committed such an act he would have been tried for disloyalty.
Amarnath yatra has got a long history and has been going on with out interruption for more than a century with all out support of local population. Excepting few sporadic incidents no harm has been made to yatries even during the two decade old turmoil in the state. Instead there are recorded incidents where yatries were given all support by the local populace during the nature’s fury some years back. State and people of Jammu and Kashmir are duty bound to facilitate Amarnath yatra within their means and law of the land.
India claims to be a secular state and obviously in a secular setup no person or religion is above law. Any tampering with federal or state law for appeasement of the religious sects with subsequent aim of harvesting it on political front leads to disaster and mistrust. The present reaction to allotment of forest land to SASB is the fall out of manipulating law of the land at the behest of over enthusiastic and overambitious person holding an otherwise noble assignment. In the first instance governor should have not accepted the leadership of SASB, even if there were some compulsions he should not have coerced the government to manipulate law for his egoistic urge, of which he was the custodian. These acts have made the post of governor to fall from the grace, and it will require a huge quantum of damage control exercise to get things back on rails.
The present unrest for last many days regarding alienation of forest land in favour of SASB is spontaneous and is completely people’s moment against government’s act of yielding to powers of coercion, and conspiracy. After more than two decades people of Kashmir have shown resistance without any political motivation or leadership. In real sense they have not even adhered to any programme charted out by the political parties and leadership eager to cash this genuine unrest. For last many days people are angry, angry with all political leaders and dispensations that in the first instance initiated and facilitated this coercive deal and after sensing its implications want to pose as saviours of the people. Streets of Kashmir are splashed with the blood of young Kashmiries with a clear and writing on the wall for politicians and the political exploiters ‘we are here for a cause and no more a commodity for exploitation’. The younger generation who are on the forefront of this genuine agitation should remain vigilant and avoid interference of politicians who will otherwise turn this genuine grievance of people into vote minting machine and strengthening political constituencies.
People should ensure religious tolerance and harmony during these testing times. We have every right to agitate against an act of deceit and exploitation but simultaneously we should be patient enough to allow people of all faiths to fulfil their religious duties and obligation without any harm. We should provide all assistance to Amarnath yatra with same amount of sincerity as it used to be earlier so that they will go with a mind set and that land has nothing to do with their religious duty of yatra.