Politicians are predisposed not to see spending Other People's Money as a problem, because spending Other People's Money is what politicians do for a living. If politicians thought there were something wrong with it, they would be in a different line of work.- Michael F Cannon
The UPA Government has decided to provide a relief package to dependents of terrorists -- those men who fought against the integrity of India and were killed by the security forces in encounters in Jammu & Kashmir. They did nothing for the country except attempting to destabilise it and kill innocent civilians. They tried their best to demoralise and assassinate those who were standing against them and for our nation.
The extent of damage done by the terrorists, whose families are to be rewarded, can be gauged from the souvenir of Jammu & Kashmir Police released in 2003. It says that there were 56,041 incidents of violence, including 10,093 explosions, 29,931 firing incidents, 5,561 cases of arson, 763 rocket attacks, 4,597 abductions, 229 cases of hanging to death, 275 arms snatching cases and 4,592 other acts of violence from January 1990 to December 2002.
More than 30,000 civilians were killed during the 14-year-long militancy. The security forces seized 24,785 AK-type rifles, 9,387 pistols and revolvers, 58 carbines, 1,003 RPGs, 91 light machine guns and self-loading rifles, 742 rocket launchers and 2,270 rocket boosters during the same period. Besides, 6,865 kg of RDX, 47,219 grenades, 5,228 anti-personnel mines and 4,176 rockets were seized. Due to terrorism, 3.70 lakh Hindus and Sikhs were forced to leave the Valley and there has been almost total ethnic cleansing of the minorities from there.
The Government decision is, hence, shocking. The policy is the first of its kind in the whole world. It will cover hundreds of families whose men took to guns and led the Pakistan-backed separatist movement, killing and maiming thousands of innocent civilians and men of security forces. Imagine if the US were to follow such policy, it would give compensation and pension to the families of all those who were responsible for the 9/11 attack or killers of President Kennedy, or Sri Lanka would extend similar treatment to the kin of those who killed its two Presidents or Bangladesh would compensate the killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman!
If implemented, the policy will make India look foolish in the eyes of the world, especially since our rulers are crying hoarse over terrorism. Incidentally, India is still bound by the UN resolution that demands strict action against terrorists. That the Government has also decided to come out with an aid package for the Kashmiri Pandits, rendered refugees in their own country, must have been an afterthought. Now, if the Government decision applies to the killers in Jammu & Kashmir, there is no reason not to extend it to other terrorists - Maoists and rebels in the North-East. The following chart will give an idea of the terrorists and killers in the other parts of the country.
Forty-five per cent of the country's geographical area, covering 220 districts, is in the grip of insurgency. In the last 20 years, 64,000 people have been killed in terrorist violence. In October 2003, 55 districts in nine States were affected by Maoist violence. In October 2004 it spread to 156 districts in 13 States. Since 1989, 13,000 civilians and 5,500 security personnel have been killed in Naxalite violence. Since that is so, the Government should ask itself why peace-loving taxpayers should foot the bill to compensate terrorists' kin just because it may help the Congress grab some extra votes when Jammu & Kashmir holds its next Assembly election.
The compensation money is added to the following bonanza that only one State, Jammu & Kashmir, is fortunate to receive from the Union. On November 17, 2004, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced an "economic revival plan" of Rs 24,000 crore for Jammu & Kashmir in Srinagar. That was a grant of an additional Rs 5,712 per capita. In the period 2000-2003, the State got Rs 13,188 crore, which is more than three times what a much poorer State, Bihar, got - Rs 4,047 crore. When you consider the Rs 14,085 crore net resource transfer by the Centre, with Rs 13,188 crore as a grant, you will get an idea of the magnitude of dole that Jammu & Kashmir gets. A similar "economic revival plan" for Bihar would amount to Rs 47,458 crore.
The Jammu & Kashmir Government employs 3.5 lakh people, making it a ratio of 34.5 Government employees to every thousand persons. To get a better idea of the enormity of the State's assistance in employment, note that the Rajasthan Government employs less than double the number of people despite being about five and a half times bigger than Jammu & Kashmir in terms of population.
Why such largesse for Jammu & Kashmir when the State does quite well in terms of socio-economic development? Its literacy level is at the national level (65.4 per cent). Its sex ratio (923:1000) too is almost at par with the national average (933:1000). Its birth rate (19.9:1000) is lower than the national average (25.8), its death rate (5.4:1000) lower than the national average (8.5/1000) too. With infant mortality rate at 45:1000, per capita income at Rs 12,399, 10th Five Year Plan per capita allocation of Rs 14,399, it has no reason to complain about the Centre's doles.
It is nobody's case that Jammu & Kashmir does not get enough. In 2002-2003, the State raised a mere Rs 936 crore by way of taxes when its total non-tax revenue was Rs 4,745. Bihar collected Rs 2814 crore by way of taxes and had a total non-tax revenue of just Rs 2062 crores. In the last 10 years its poverty level has dropped from 25.17 per cent to a mere 3.48 per cent. The poverty level in India is around 26 per cent. Quite clearly, therefore, the nation's generosity and bounty is lavished upon Jammu & Kashmir very unfairly even as the State Government's accounts have not been audited for over a decade. No one really knows what was spent where and who got what.
The Indian Government's decision amounts to the Government rewarding the terrorists for killing our brave soldiers. It may be no surprise, if the Government comes out with a package to offer a similar scheme to the perpetrators of the 1993 Mumbai blasts, 2006 trains bombings, the Sarojini Nagar and Govindpuri blasts and perhaps even the next of kin of the terrorists who attacked the Parliament House as well as those who attacked the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly. The media has already hinted that all this is being done, in view of the forthcoming general election. If that's true, it proves what Joseph Sobran said about the US, which is also applicable to our country: "The difference between a politician and a pickpocket is that a pickpocket doesn't always get indignant when you tell him to keep his hands to himself."