Archive for September, 2011

azadi for kashmir or not?


Looking at my old CDs and rummaging through the few letters I had written to The Telegraph in my school and college days (and henceforth) I found this one and was particularly surprised how in a matter of few years things could change so much. I don’t know when exactly I had written this letter but it was in the summer of 2008 immediately after the Amarnath land transfer controversy that rocked Jammu and Kashmir in the month of May.

The letter might have no semblance to my present thoughts on Kashmir. This is simply a figment from the past.

Sir,

While I was a kid I always used to think that nothing could have been better than being born an Indian. The books I read, the people I met, the things I saw on television and around me, the unity, the love, the colors, the religion, the language, the food and just about everything went on to consolidate my views that everything was honky dory in India and every one was painted in the essence of nationalism. The plethora of views which I used to collect from around me sounded excessively positive and progressive. I grew up to be a confident Indian and but not aware of the fact that I was living simply on the edges of some fake notions which best served the books. India was mighty divided except the celebration of medals won at international events, which nevertheless are few. People identified themselves more on the basis of their religion, their community, their state, region, language et al. The situation within India was like a gentle wind and suddenly came the strongest of all gales. I grew up to realize how Kashmir was integrated with India and how the promised plebiscite has been refused by the populist Indian government.

I came to know of the use of force (and with special powers) in the Kashmir Valley, the violation of human rights, the impotent state government, the derailing peace process with Pakistan and not granting the status of a disputed territory to Kashmir. I realized that we are a land of misfortunes with such a farce government which can go to any excess to manipulate situations in their own stride and deal with issues as deep and complex as Kashmir and the identity of its people with such little interest and competence. I accept that the Indian government has done much for Kashmir, more than what actually Pakistan might have done for the state or Kashmir as an independent state might have done for itself, but then, these were all ploys by the Indian government to attract the state’s populace and incite the people of Kashmir to favor the Indian lobby. India is emerging out as a super power with terrible economic, military and political might and with a greater influence on the world. And all these might attract the business setup of the state to favor India but then people are not always guided by economic boom alone. Had that been the case, Kashmiris would have never ever voiced their opinions and chanted pro-Pakistan or azadi slogans, and thus the pros and cons is for the Indian government to measure. The more the delay, the more strength India will garner and greater will be its say in the Kashmir matter. Hostilities might increase in the valley, more people might be killed and we will still keep complaining that China is not a perfect example of democracy and a serious violator of human rights, forgetting to look into our own backyard. Let us be practical, let us shed our emotions, let us behave like intellectual souls of a modern nation and accept the fact that not all is fine with the way India is behaving with the Kashmiris. It is their agony that they are being led under such incompetent hands and have a nation to bank upon which itself has a history of political uncertainty, deep economic crisis and turmoil of every possible kind.

this will lead to what?

I have read and known enough, right form the views of neutral journalists, civil servants, representatives of various political parties, both from Indian mainland and Kashmir and even the people form the entire nation and the state in question, and I am pretty much sure that until and unless the impotent government acts sane, the situation is going to spiral out of control all the more. The Kashmiris do have a strong case here. And if I talk about the revocation of the forty hectares of land which was earlier granted to the Shree Amarnath Shrine Board by the state government itself, I personally don’t think that the order was necessary in the first place. Kashmir is a sensitive state and such inappropriate government measures show the intellect of our political set up. It is a well-known fact that the both the Hindus and the Muslims of the valley extend their best possible help towards the pilgrims and special grants of land wasn’t necessary as such. And if at all it was required the government must have first of all thought of taking the people of the valley in confidence. Such callous methods to play with the sensitivities of people are uncalled for. The state government is responsible in every possible way and after the situation spiraled out of their hands they brazenly started taking stupid decisions in haste to attract the sympathy of the voters from the valley. Such sickening opportunists can only be found in India.

The way the Hindus reacted in Jammu was obvious and BJP found out a perfect ploy to add oil to the fire after the fresh loss of the confidence vote in the parliament. The Hindus surely might have felt insulted and embarrassed but the methodology they followed under the umbrella of the saffronites was very saddening. It was depressing to see how the people of Jammu were easy prey to misinformation, half-truths, and propaganda by saffronites. I firmly believe that the Kashmiris must be given the chance to decide upon their future, keeping in mind the way it was accessioned with India. I have the slightest of regard for separatist leaders like Geelani, Mirwaiz and Lone, who talk rough, inciting and nonsense. I have the slightest of respect for politicians of Kashmir including Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti who are among the worst species of opportunists. I am aghast at the way the situation is being handled and the way Kashmiris are being treated. Not all battles are won by armies and that is been exemplified in the valley. I have little idea why a mainstream and responsible political party like the BJP has a history of such amateurish behavior.

The lesser said about the other impotent and opportunist political parties, the better it would be. First it was an attempt to revoke the special state status given to Kashmir by Shayama Prasad Mookerjea, the founder of Jana Sangha (the predecessor of BJP), then the pulling down of Babri masjid, which to a great explains the rise of Islamic fundamentalism within India, then the Gujarat riots, and now the latest fiasco. India seriously needs to do away with dangerous political parties like BJP which have the potency to cause further rift in the peace and unity of India. The discontent of Kashmir’s people with Indian rule, and particularly their handling of their issues is obvious and worth noticing. It is thoroughly sad that they have such incapable leaders, who themselves are divided and unsure how to lead. But then, had the issue been of able governance then the picture entraps the entire of India, but that is not exactly the case here. The opposition party at the centre says that there is no economic blockade of the valley but then the fact is that there has been acute shortage of supplies in the valley. This becomes all the more disgusting and complicated when we see some pro-India politicians proclaiming Chalo Muzaffarabad, instead of Chalo Delhi. The army has protected the valley from the infiltrators, and the same army has shot down the people from the valley too. The army instead of using water cannons and tear gas to quell the crowd or fire rounds in air chose crude methodologies instead. More people died in the valley compared to Jammu and this proves how biased the Indian government is and it too must be accused of double standards. It talks of Kashmir as an integral part of India and then behaves differently with them. But India has also granted several special civil rights to people of the valley and done enough to spiral them out of poverty. In such a situation, the question shifts away from holding one side at fault. The question ultimately bounces back to the basics.

Kashmir was integrated within India under special circumstances, a plebiscite was promised by the Indian government under restoration of normalcy in the valley. Pakistan never allowed normalcy to return and meanwhile the Indian government employed all possible means to integrate Kashmir and Jammu within itself. I can give numerous examples to showcase how India too is responsible for the failure of normalcy to return in Kashmir. India never wanted the promised plebiscite to be held and has been strengthening its position in Kashmir. India’s Kashmir policies are unclear much like its policies with most other nations. It boils down to such simple facts but still the fiasco. I have no regards for the way Pakistan handled the entire situation right from 1947 either. But the way a more powerful and responsible nation like India handled the situation is all the more alarming. The BJP is hell-bent to fight for the identity of the people of Jammu. The communal ambition of the party is out in the front and the incompetence of the central government too. The need of the hour is quite simple. We must shed our inhibitions, enlighten our masses regarding the history of Kashmir, educate our people of tolerance and accept the ground realities. I know it is easier said than done, but all this must have been done decades ago since the present situation is too complex to be solved in a matter of few days. India must prove to the world that it is a sensible and powerful nation and has the effectiveness to do what it had promised. Let us do something fruitful for Kashmir and if they want the promised plebiscite, we must grant them that, not as alms but because it is their right for self-determination. Let us not destroy our society for something non-existent as borders and inflated egos. Let peace prevail. Let us spread brotherhood and let us be united.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

Vivek Singh.

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