Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is not Leh part of India?

Is not Leh part of India?

We proudly declare that Kashmir is part of India. We have special affinity to Ladakh part of Kashmir since Buddhist mostly populates it. And Buddhism is akin to Hinduism. In fact, we have been insisting that Ladakh should get internal autonomy in Kashmir so that each and every measure initiated by Srinagar need not automatically cover Ladakh but it would be able to refuse to apply it or agree to apply it only in such modified form as it would not militate against it predominantly Buddhist culture. However, this has not been accepted and consequently has always been a point of contention between the region and the rest of Kashmir.

This consideration for the region is understandable. It is not necessarily against Srinagar but only a desirable measure for reassuring the local people that all the laws passed there would not automatically apply to it and if any part or the whole law was felt to be detrimental to the cultural set of the region it would have the power to qualify its application to the extent found necessary. This is purely a demoicratic measure and does not even remotely suggest any secessionist tendency.

The recent devastating cloudburst not only caused an unimaginable human tragedy, but a massive economic disaster in this tourist paradise, where re-building the damaged infrastructure may take a minimum of two years. There had been a huge loss of men and materials.

It reminds us of the earthquake in Bhuj. According to press reports of the time and especially of Mr.Deshmukh of the RSS, Sangh volunteers, swayamsevaks, already highly organized into local chapters, reached the affected region even before any official program was set in motion by the RSS. They were instrumental in assisting the emergency hospital set up in the Jubilee Grounds in Bhuj, which treated so many of the injured. "The biggest job our workers have done," said Deshmukh, "is the extraction and cremation of over 3,500 bodies from the rubble." Even on the 50th day after the quake, they were still doing this, extracting rotting bodies. They also distributed 2,000 truckloads of relief material. At its peak, 25,000 RSS workers were engaged in rescue and relief operations

However, we have not had any such reports in relation to the Leh cloudburst. Except for the recent appeal by Mr. Advani advising BJP MPs/MLAs contribute Rs. 10,000/- each out of their salaries we have not come across any information of any such assistance extended by RSS per se . We have heard of volunteers who frequently went on tour to these areas and some of whose friends have been caught in the calamity proposing a visit to the affected area for rendering such help as they could to the affected people and especially their friends who had gone on tour and are stranded there. There was also a general appeal in Mumbai to working people to contribute one month’s salary for the relief funds. It is clear that the economic cost of the disaster may run into several hundred crores if one takes into account the damage to both public and personal property.

Thus the appeals made so far are for financial contribution except those of the friends of the tourists. There are no initiatives, not even proposals for running to the rescue of our affected brothers in Leh. This absence of any warm response to the affected people there in Leh, appears very strange to say the least compared to the warm response to the Bhuj tragedy. In fact, the mere fact that the accession of Kashmir of which Leh (Ladakh) is a part, to India is in dispute should not stand in our way to help them. If anything, such apathy would only spoil our claim over Kashmir. Then again as already stated the majority of people affected are Buddhist even if that is immaterial. Even if they were to be Muslims as some of the affected people certainly are they were part of an area which has acceded to India ,maybe the accession is in dispute-one sided dispute. Nor can it be the case that RSS does not advertise its efforts. It also did not proclaim its relief operations undertaken by it in Bhuj from their rooftops but they were nonetheless concrete and palpable. If indeed such proposals were under preparation they would not have failed to come out in the press.

All this looks very strange. As against this the news from Pakistan indicates that Muslim volunteers entered the areas devastated by rains with help before the governments nominees reached there. Of course, these volunteers were not in a position to offer much on account of the limited resources at their credit but the affected people appreciated their initiative. In fact, Pakistani papers report that the Government’s response towards relief work is rather inadequate. Perhaps the volume of the tragedy is indeed beyond its resources though a number of philanthropic organizations the world over had shown readiness to join the relief operations with men and materials.

We have also received similar offers and while these are welcome the main burden would have to be borne by us. Shri Krishna reminds me of the holding the Govardhan Mountain up balancing it on his little finger. He did not expect any help from the cowherd friends of his but nevertheless they also supported it with their sticks. I do not see any such sticks raised in Leh whereas there many of them in Bhuj!

Is Leh not a part of India?

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