BJP’s Rashtriya Ekta Yatra: Heading in wrong direction

By M. Zajam,

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) fascination with Muslims, Kashmir, Pakistan and Yatras is never going to end. Its politics and programs revolve mainly around these issues. Latest in the series, Rashtriya Ekta Yatra, is heading towards Kashmir for hoisting flag in Lal Chowk, Srinagar on 26th January. This yatra started on 12th January from Kolkata will pass through 11 states before reaching Srinagar. Earlier Murli Manohar Joshi of BJP had also hoisted flag in Lal Chowk in 1992 under heavy security cover.

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This time flag hoisting is planned when normalcy has just returned to valley after weeks of unrest. J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah has requested Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) to reconsider its decision as it is likely to disturb peaceful conditions in the valley. This Ekta Yatra has even divided BJP led National Democratic Alliance. Janata Dal (U) National President and NDA convener, Sharad Yadav, has requested BJP to call off the yatra stating nothing should be done to hamper the peace. Interlocutors appointed by Government of India has brought good news from Kashmir saying that most people they met in the Valley were against a UN resolutions or plebiscite to resolve the Kashmir issue. Kashmir panel head Dilip Padgoankar said most people reiterated their faith in democracy, fundamental rights, pluralism and tolerance. These interlocutors have been meeting people from all section of society for past few months to get their views about the Kashmir problem.

By hoisting National Flag, BJP claims it is trying to prove that Kashmir is integral part of India. It seems only BJP and Kashmiri separatist are in doubt about Kashmir being integral part of India. In 2008 Jammu and Kashmir assembly election was a success with 61% of voters turning up at polling booth braving separatist boycott call and harsh winter. This election was held in the month of November and December with last phase voting taking place on 24th December 2008. Voting percentage had increased by whopping 17%. Message from Kashmir was laud and clear. Recently concluded Bihar election recorded only 52% voting held in the pleasant month of October and November.

Bigger threat

If BJP really wants to do a service to Nation, their fascination with Kashmir, Pakistan and Muslims should end and they should focus on bigger threat India faces today.

BJP Rashtriya Ekta Yatra should have headed to North East instead of North West. They should have planned to hoist National Flag in Arunachal Pradesh close to border with China.

China has become very aggressive in North East India and specially Arunachal Pradesh. In fact it considers Arunachal Pradesh as part of China and often denies visas to those from the state saying they are from the same country. Former Chief Minister Gegong Apang was not given a visa stating that being a citizen of China he required no visa to enter his own country. In 2007, a study tour to Beijing of over 100 IAS officers was cancelled after China refused to give a visa to an officer from Arunachal Pradesh. In continuation of this policy, off late China has been issuing stapled visa for Arunachal Pradesh residents ignoring India strong protest.
Recently two Arunachal sportsmen were issued stapled visa by China, in spite of India raising ‘serious objections’ to the this practice during Chinese Premier recent India visit. These two sportsmen were not allowed to leave by the Indian government due to visa row. All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has decided to protest “humiliation” meted out to sportsmen by boycotting the Republic Day celebration and all function of national importance.

China has launched own mapping service similar to Google Earth on 18th January 2011.This service known as “Map World” is showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin- two area in dispute with India – as part of China. Arunachal Pradesh that China has always claimed as “southern Tibet” as part of its territory. The map has China’s borders covered up to Arunachal Pradesh. Also, the Aksai Chin area, which is part of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir has been included by the map as part of China’s Xinjiang province. Two countries have held 14 rounds of talks on border dispute.

Growing nexus

The Chinese have provided shelter to many insurgent groups functioning in northeast India since the sixties. There are reports of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) cadres being trained by Chinese. Arrested Manipuri terrorist group leader claimed that banned outfit ULFA military chief Paresh Baruah is enjoying Chinese hospitality. The security agencies are worried over the growing nexus of China with other insurgent groups of North Eastern states. It is also involved in actively training and arming insurgent groups in Manipur and Nagaland. 400 cadre of a Manipuri insurgent group, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), have undergone arms training in China’s Yunnan province.

Since 2005, 4621 persons have lost their lives including 333 security forces in terrorist violence in North East India. 13 Out of 34, declared as terrorist organisations under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, are based in North Eastern states.

Security agencies are also concerned as Chinese weapons in large numbers are finding their way to the northeastern states. Arrested National Socialist Council of Nagaland -Isak-Muivah (NSCN: I-M) arms procurer told the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that NE insurgent groups are procuring weapons from weapon supplier in mainland China. These groups even acquired Anti-aircraft guns from China.

In June 2010, All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (Ansam) had enforced economic blockade of Manipur which lasted for more than two months. ANSAM had blocked the National Highways 39 and 53, the lifelines of the landlocked State. Blockade badly affected normal life in Manipur and people were forced to buy Rice at Rs.150-200 a kilogram, a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) refill at Rs.2,000, petrol at Rs.200 a litre, and diesel at Rs.150 a litre . It took two months for the Center to act and use force to lift this economic blockade. This caused lots of tension and resentment in the region.

Many were killed when clash broke out in bordering areas of Goalpara district in Assam and Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district in January this year between Garo and Rabha. Garos are a majority in Meghalaya but a minority in Assam; Rabhas are a majority in Assam and a minority in Meghalaya. Plans to reduce tension in these border areas will be appreciate and welcomed.

Attacks on Hindi speaking migrant workers in NE states are regular occurrences. Last November, 14 people were killed in attacks on migrant workers by National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Assam has also witnessed attacks against hindi speaking migrants and Marwaris. National Integration Yatra in these areas to boost confidence of migrant population and inculcate Idea of India in NE India.

‘India’s enemy number one’

China is increasing its military power and influence in the strategically crucial Indian Ocean. China has become very generous off late with other Indian oceans nations. Chinese companies are involved in developing Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. Chinese government is providing 85% of the funding for this project. Apart from Sri Lanka, China is also building ports in Chittagong in Bangladesh, Kyaukpyu in Burma and Gwadar port in Pakistan. Indian security experts are concerned with these aggressive plans of China to encircle India.

In 1998, George Fernandes then Defence Minsiter in BJP led NDA government, had declared China as “India’s enemy number one”. Fernandes in a television interview stressed that the threats emanating from China showed that Beijing posed the greatest potential threat to India. He argued that China must be perceived as a threat by “any person who is concerned with India’s security.” He suggested it was not in India’s interest to understate problems with China. Fernandes had very few public defenders and Kanchi Shankaracharya was one of them.

In an interview in 2008, he maintained his stand on China, saying that China is ‘still potential threat number one and could become an enemy’. He added that India’s attitude towards China was because of the 1962 war. “I have a feeling that what happened in 1962 is still affecting people’s mind and they can’t get out of it,” he said.

China using Pakistan

China has been a strong ally of Pakistan’s for years. China has provided Pakistan with technical expertise in developing many weapon programs. It has also helping the country build nuclear reactors. China has deployed about 11,000 troops in the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in the Occupied Kashmir for developing road and rail access to the Gulf through Pakistan. Former USA ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, who is now Henry Kissinger Senior Fellow for US foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations – a prestigious US-based think tank, have said “China using Pakistan to slow India’s rise”

He added, Many Indian strategists think that there’s some evidence that China’s preoccupation with Pakistan and its long-time close links is closely connected to the Chinese realisation that if India is preoccupied, pinned down by cross-border terrorism from Pakistan and problems in the India-Pakistan relation, then it will slow the rise of India as a great power.

In Nepal, Maoist led government is overactive in strengthening ties with China. China has embarked on a railway project connecting the Tibetan capital of Lhasa with Nepal border town of Khasa. This is seen as an effort to reduce Nepal dependence on India for trade and economy. Nepal is also acquiring modern weapons from China. In September 2008, China announced a $1.3 million military aid package for Nepal and three months later PLA promised another $2.6 million for the same purpose. Chinese envoy in Nepal Quo Guohang has assured Nepal by stating that if Nepal faces threats to its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, China would help it not only militarily but also financially and diplomatically.


China has increased spying activities in India. Last week three Chinese spies were detained by police for allegedly taking pictures of vital installations near Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh. An Indian PAN card, two mobiles and a camera were recovered from them.

China has set up numerous study centers to spy on India. Named “Nepal-China Study Centers”, they are located on Indo-Nepal border. Many Chinese firms headed by former PLA officers have established its base in Nepal.

In 2009, the department of telecommunications,(DoT), citing security concerns, had asked private operators to avoid using their equipment in 20 of the 29 states. Earlier, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s tender for 93 million GSM lines, DoT decided to keep out the Chinese from states that shared borders with China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

China is mounting almost daily cyber attacks on both Indian government and private computer networks. Chinese are constantly scanning and mapping India’s official networks to have an idea on how to disable the networks or distract them during a conflict. In a coordinated attack in 2009, Computers of nine key Indian embassies, including offices in the US, UK and Germany, were infected by the mysterious GhostNet, a China-based cyber espionage network that has been uncovered by a Canada-based research organisation. India’s premier National Informatics Centre (NIC), which governs and hosts all government websites, was infected by the mysterious GhostNet many times.

China never misses any chance to bully India. In 2008, China had summoned Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao to the foreign office past midnight to convey concerns over storming of its embassy in New Delhi by some Tibetan protesters.

On 20th January, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari accompanied by a seven-member party delegation has begun his five-day goodwill tour of China. While his Youth Brigade of his party is heading towards Kashmir for flag hoisting. BJP target is way- way off the mark.

BJP should divert some of its energy towards North Eastern states as well. It is very much part of India and China is hell bent on creating trouble there. Declaring Arunachal Pradesh as part of China is attack on Indian sovereignty by China. People of Arunachal Pradesh are losing hope and their boycott of this year Republic Day is a warning signal. Is BJP ready to pick this signal? or BJP is too busy in its love affairs with Kashmir and has no time to look anywhere else. BJP narrow vision is not doing any good for the country and such narrow vision is not expected from a national party which has ruled India for six years. People of Arunachal Pradesh will be thankful to BJP and India, if one yatra and flag hoisting is arranged with same vigor and enthusiasm as shown in current Rashtriya Ekta Yatra.

Other articles by M. Zajam