Air Marshal Ashok Goel (Retd.)
PVSM AVSM VM
11, Silver State, Pilibhit Byepass Road,
Bareilly-243005 (U.P.) INDIA
Mob: 9411900090, 09999722636
The year gone by 2008 has been called a year of terror. Ten terror attacks last one on 26/11 the Mumbai massacre. The year was also significant for a mini general election (the so called semi final) held in six states. However the most important of them has been the election in the state of J & K and its follow-up. The state went into election against all possible odds, separatist call for the boycott of elections, the serious divide created due to Amarnath episode, and inclement weather due to onset of serious wintry conditions
The people of Jammu & Kashmir were determined to defeat them all. The most important election since 1957 when the first Assembly was voted. Highest voter turn out i.e. 60% and above, and no militant threats and no coercion to vote. The mandate remained fractured as expected. However the political maturity of the leaders at the state and national level has chosen the best coalition and ready to deliver under the young, dynamic and enthusiastic leadership of Omar Abdulla. At 38 years he represents the youngest leadership. Events of the state to emerge may change the political, social and security environment of the state and would have its fallout on National & Regional level as well.
Between 1963 to 2003 forty years in the IAF gave an ample opportunity to see every nook and corner of the state. No city, lakes, valleys, passes, airfields, dropping zones were spared to be visited and seen in absolute reality. Kashmir is heaven on earth, Kashmir is Switzerland of East, are not imagination but the realities. Valley or for that matter whole of J & K remained nearly peaceful. It was only after 8 Dec 1989, when Rubaiya Sayed daughter of Mufti Mohammed Sayed was kidnapped and as a surrender the unreasonable demands of the kidnappers were met with (by the VP Singh Govt.) within no time. That was the beginning of the Militancy in a big way in the state of J & K and particularly in the valley.
While in service one could normally have an official view of the ground realities. After retirement I had the opportunity to address “Civil Aviation Seminar” in Rajashthan, Uttrakhand, Haryana, MP, UP and Assam. Had the opportunity to address one such seminar at Srinagar (J & K) in the first week of Aug 2007. The seminar was organized by civilian businessmen who were setting up a civil aviation academy in the state. Till them nearly 20-25 seminar had been addressed all over the country from “Sriganganagar to Gauhati” The gathering at Srinagar ( as at other places) was mainly of young boys & Girls. The young crowd at Srinagar was the most well informed, appeared better educated, the knowledge of English was also far better. The standard of general knowledge and a desire to achieve was reflected in everyone, the boys and the Girls. The girls were beautiful, modest and confident. However most of them reflected an apprehension, how to get injected into the National main stream. While going around the town one could also see young girls handling varieties of jobs confidently in their traditional outfits.
The hosts took extraordinary care in extending the hospitality. I did ask the hosts how do they feel after nearly 60 years of independence. They replied nothing much has changed. “People feel alienated, politicians are corrupt, no job opportunities, the youth are rudderless and lack direction. One could feel the pain of the local people. Next day while traveling in a private taxi from Badamibagh to the Air port (nearly 20 Km distance) the taxi must have been stopped 20 times. It was my defence ROIC (Retired Officers Identity card) which saved the time. Otherwise the baggage would have been opened at every check point and frisking of all occupants (including the driver) would have been the most time consuming and embarrassing.
The events of J & K are directly linked to the happening of Pakistan. Pakistan is deeply wounded for the reasons:
Annexation of majority states (Muslim) into Indian union, acquiring a minority status.
Defeat of Pakistani raiders in 47-48
India’s Pokhran – 1 - 1974
Dismemberment of Pakistan, 1971 war, creation of Bangladesh
Surrender of Pakistan Army with 93000 Pow’s on 16 Dec 1971
Surrender of Bhutto - Simla agreement 1972
Kargil war -1999, unconditional withdrawal of Pakistani “Terrorists”
2004-2008 Growing Indo US relations.
Indo/US Nuclear Deal
Pak in Turmoil due US/Pakistan alliance on “War on Terror”
Dear Omar Abdulla you have a great opportunity to change the history of the state of J & K, which would a have direct bearing on the National & Regional scene. The aspirations of the people are simple; the corruption free governance, job for the young, bring them into the National stream, and the last but slowly and steadily; the common people should not only feel Kashmiris, but Indians as well. Your success could be guiding factor and a role model for the right governance at the National Level.