Indian Home Minister’s recent say; ‘Kashmir is, was, and will always be ours’ is not any different or new statement to the ears of Kashmiris. Since Indian forces landed on this territory in 1947, Kashmiris are used to such versions. Crown of India, Integral part are few more phrases that are most often used for erstwhile a separate and princely state – Jammu and Kashmir. However, history bears testimony to the fact that people of Kashmir have never taken such utterances seriously. There are mainly two reasons behind it. One, such statements are aimed to dissolve internationally recognized Kashmir-dispute, which is not possible as far as determination of people is concerned. Two, these claims time and again prove insincere and hollow.
Regarding first reason, has it been so easy to dilute Kashmir issue, it would have ended a long time ago. Kashmir would never have simmered repeatedly after witnessing massacres, which compose its history. Even the horrifying bloodshed of 90’s could not make people submissive rather they have become more vocal about their demand. And the present situation in Kashmir is witness to that. Thus, there is no scope for spoken words in changing contours and dimensions of Kashmir-issue. Unless and until it will not be resolved sincerely and according to wishes of people, it will continue to disturb peace in sub-continent and keep on existing as sore in the body of Indian politics.
Coming to the second point that is my focus point also, let us presume, Kashmir is what they call, their integral part, inalienable segment, crown etc. Nevertheless, the question is what makes it so? The answer is ‘mere rhetoric’. The succeeding regimes at the center have never moved beyond their interests and empty-talks vis-à-vis Kashmir. For them, Kashmir is an integral part because of land and resources not because of inhabitants. It is an integral part when it comes to garnering a vote, on the floor of UN assembly to bully neighboring country, and for making their people feel Kashmir-problem is “No-problem.” Other classes also make a profit out of this “Phrase.” TV-channels gain a good amount of publicity in the form of movies, hot debates etc. based on lies about Kashmir. In reality, people of Kashmir never felt themselves to be part of India because of the treatment they have received and are receiving.
People of Kashmir continue to suffer having no end to their agony. They are always mal-treated for no crime. People continue to become cannon fodder, lives of common people get consumed day in and day out, and there is no end to the dance of death, which significantly contribute to rising armed rebellion. It is important to note that there is existing a concept of ‘brain-washing from neighboring country’ among some Indians nonetheless people of Kashmir are not so callow that they would get trapped in passionate discourses, but it is the situation that makes them go extreme. The Research scholar Manan wani is one such example who before joining militancy complained of questioning and mishandling by men in uniform. Harassments, questioning etc., only make part of adopted terror creating strategy, now infamously called state-terrorism. The latter, however; has many forms and recent subsequent Shopian-firing incidents constitute one such form. First, on January 27, when the army opened fire on the unarmed civilians, killing two locals just for reacting against the removing of the banner of a killed rebel.
It does not need clearance. It is obvious that common masses have sympathy for militants as indicated by funerals. Moreover, whosoever picks up a gun, maybe anti-national for forces but is the apple of eyes for family and friends. They will mourn killing. They will lament his death. They will call him brave and let them! What is the purpose of stopping them and removing the banner? Will this stop the people from attending the funeral of rebels, will this strategy kill popular sentiment. Will it persuade youth not to join armed rebellious? No, it has contrary results, so why this violent and futile approach? Furthermore, what pained most is that the highest seat of justice- Supreme Court stayed probe against killings – a unique treatment to people of an integral part. Enjoying impunity, Killers played another game of death in the same area on 4th March, which left families of six including two militants and four civilians shattered.
The journalism is regarded as the fourth pillar of democracy and strength of this pillar is a journalist. Professionally, a journalist is an intermediate between public and government. Additionally, highlighting people’s pain makes ethics of journalism and is the duty of every journalist. If a photojournalist captures the anguish of people through his lens, how he becomes anti-national. What makes him languish in jail for months? Isn’t this insult to the professionalism? Importantly, what is it going to furnish? Would it change the reality that nothing is well in Kashmir? Would it stabilize the situation? No, it furthers alienation and hatred.
Next is a contempt that Kashmiris face in other states of India. It is outside the state when Kashmiris realize that they belong to so-called integral part. Wherever they go, they come under the radar for Kashmiri accent. Nobody trusts them. Everyone looks at them with suspicion. They often wonder about this unwelcome and sometimes doubt themselves. Many even face harsh handling. There are many more similar examples that flatten the tall claims of ‘our’ and ‘integral part’. The People of Kashmir often tarred as fundamentalists, factually are loving, peace- believers, and civilized. They believe in peace, provided it is given chance to prevail.They prefer amity to enmity, provided cordiality would be extended to them. Humanity is in their blood, provided they would get human treatment. But unfortunately, rules and laws for them vary leading to estrangement. Thus, before beating the drum of an integral part, the concerned people need to treat people as integral rather than harping on rhetoric. They need to ensure the protection of human rights in Kashmir.The rule and law must not change for Kashmir and its people and they must have the same freedom as people of other states have. Think tankers need to think beyond military approach. Rather than compelling more youth to pick up guns, the creation of a favorable atmosphere where no one would think of gun is a necessity. Winning people’s trust must be the priority. Ruling hearts and minds should be the approach; this may somehow influence the lingering K-issue also. If they cannot do so and would keep on blaming neighboring country without rethinking their strategy, the situation can never improve. Mere words would never transform into reality. Yes, land of Kashmir may be with them but not people. In Kashmir, the only two options left for India are; either ‘Love’ the people of Kashmir or ‘Leave’ them and forget the ‘phrases’. Because people no longer want tyranny, they want to live freely. They no more want to live under the shadow of gun. They want calmness but not eerie calmness. They want a life of honor, not slavery. Importantly, they now believe the rebellion against tyrants is God’s obedience and this belief cannot allow them to be chained in thralldom for long.
(The author writes on current socio-political issues. His views are personal)