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Fwd: Kashmir: for Bhumiputra

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  • Daniel Mazgaonkar
    ... From: Anand M Date: 3 September 2010 08:01 Subject: Fwd: Kashmir: for Bhumiputra To: Daniel Mazgaonkar
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2010
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      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Anand M <anand@...>
      Date: 3 September 2010 08:01
      Subject: Fwd: Kashmir: for Bhumiputra
      To: Daniel Mazgaonkar <daniel.mazgaonkar@...>

      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Anand M <anandpss@...>
      Date: Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 10:36 PM
      Subject: Kashmir: for Bhumiputra
      To: anand@..., Swati <swati43@...>

      Kashmir means many things to many people and evokes extreme emotions from most. To some it is a beautiful tourist place that, unfortunately, cannot be visited because it is in the 'clutches of terrorists', and to their counterparts, a lost business opportunity. To some others it is either an ideal political issue to whip up passions or a hot potato better left untouched, for disturbing the status quo can amount to political suicide. To the international players it is a dispute that can be used to further their own geopolitical interests. And to yet others it is an unmitigated tragedy in which innocent blood of tens of thousands continues to be spilled. And then there are those who will spill others' and if necessary their own blood to try to achieve their goal.

      India and Pakistan have fought wars over it. It belongs to the list of festering conflicts which the key players on both sides did not have the statesmanship and foresight to resolve and caused untold suffering to common citizens. What people in Kashmir have suffered is not just Indo-Pak conflict but also suspicion of disloyalty, military & paramilitary repression and an internal conflict and all its fallouts. Succeeding generations have therefore inherited tragedy from history. Like many conflicts between remote players human life is, directly or indirectly, considered expendable. There is little meeting-ground, apart from rhetoric about dialogue and peaceful resolution, between the entrenched positions of both countries. They, at best, only seem to reach as far as talking about talks rather than having actual dialogue.

      Kashmir, a region that could have been the confluence of three cultures – Buddhist-Tibetan, Hindu & Islamic – has been turned into a battleground. Close to 70 000 people have lost their lives only in the last two decades. The tragedy does not end there. Around 6000 people are said to have disappeared, there are at least 15 000 widows and we see the tragic phenomenon of 1000 'half widows', women whose husbands have disappeared, 25 000 children who are orphans, and 250 000-300 000 displaced Kashmiri Pandits. The suffering and loss of life happens on all sides, viz., militants, military, paramilitary forces, innocent people of all communities and religions. Clearly though, the worst suffering, both in terms of disruption of normacy and loss of life is borne by innocent people. That's something that concerns the States the least, and should concern conscientious citizens the most. To top this the picture presented to us by the mainstream media is very one-sided and unrepresentative of the reality on the ground. Unfortunately the Kashmir issue has always been misrepresented in fact, context, and perspective. Both the states of India and Pakistan seem never to have been interested in the people there but only in land, self-vindication, pulling the other side down. Both states have matched mistake for mistake, wrong for wrong. If the then Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir dithered on signing the instrument of accession, Pakistan attacked through the Razaakars and the then decision-makers in India resorted to double standards in dealing with the states of Hyderabad, Junagadh on the one hand and Kashmir on the other. If the Nawab of Junagadh and the Nizam of Hyderabad were unjustified in foisting their personal wish of wanting to join Pakistan though the majority populations in their respectives states wanted to join the Indian Union, how can a different yardstick be applied to Kashmir?

      We, in the rest of India, have always been told that fairness and justice require Kashmir to be 'an integral part of India'. An objective look at the facts would reveal that pursuing the 'our side is always right' line over the last 60 years not only leaves a problem unresolved but results in incalculable human tragedy and suffering, not just today but threatens to pass down to succeeding generations with a multiplier effect. We have the tendency to blame the 'outside hand' for most of our problems, especially Pakistan with regard to Kashmir. The reality seems to be that neither is without blame. If India is blamed for not holding the promised plebiscite no mention is made of a similar exercise in the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir. We blame Pakistan for training militants and abetting terrorism in Kashmir but we do not talk about the Indian State rigging the 1987 elections.

      It must be understood that the 1987 elections were a turning point in Kashmir's recent history. Many losing candidates are said to have been declared winners. Parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami, the People's Conference and the Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen which participated in the polls with great enthusiasm are now part of the main separatist alliance, the All Party Hurriyat Conference, campaigning for self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Key figures in militant groups fighting against Indian rule, it must be remembered, had taken part in those polls. They then turned to violence. Rest is history. While we fret and fume about 'terrorism', and usually blame Kashmiris (all Kashmiris without distinguishing that not all resort to violence) it they who actually bear the brunt, as evidenced by the numbers mentioned above.

      Living in peace and harmony, concentrating on development of the region and its peoples, preventing infliction of any more suffering on the people of the state, freedom from terrorism today (a desire mentioned in every statement, communique, resolution, draft agreement by every party – state or non-state, local or international) requires that we do not remain hostage to history and repeat past follies. The way forward, therefore, is predicated on the following:

      i) No outside intereference in the region - the region went through successive invasions and interence – the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US training of Mujaheedin, who then turned against the US and its allies, including Pakistan, and who also infiltrated into India. It does not help us to blame only Pakistan for the imbroglio in the region.

      ii) Rising above the narrow nationalistic 'India is always right and Pakistan is always wrong' jingoism. Every State takes principles and morality at a discount in pursuit of geopolitical advantage for itself. We would have a moral right to blame Pakistan for everything only if our record in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh were as clean.

      iii) A proper appreciation for diversity in the state of Jammu-Kashmir and the region of Leh and Ladakh is sine qua non. The diversity pertains not just to religion but to region, local economy and lifestyle and they have their own aspirations, e.g., Legislative Assembly members of Poonch, Rajouri and Doda have all sought separate regional status for their own areas, as have people from Ladakh. The tragedy is that people belonging to each of these regions do not properly know and understand each other.

      iv) What follows from the above is that religion is not the only determinant as far as people's aspirations are concerned. Religious stereotypes have only complicated the problem. How else can the paradox of the Hindu ruler Hari Singh want Kashmir to be independent from both India and Pakistan whereas Sheikh Abdullah, a Muslim, and considered to be representing the public opinion then choose to join India for its secular and socialist values? Kashmiris culturally, have always been liberal and syncretic. Yet, some people would have believe that religion determines State-loyalty.

      v) India as a secular, democratic state must have full respect for rights of minorities – all sections of society, especially its political parties and religious organisations. Therefore, there must be no threats to Muslims , Christians and others in the rest of India and similarly Kashmiri Pandits must have equal rights and security in Kashmir. Any solution to the Kashmir problem has to include do justice to their just aspirations and needs.

      vi) There must be zero tolerance of army and paramilitary atrocities on civilians otherwise the very forces that secure our borders agains foreign powers would be hated by people within. That unfortunately is a serious problem in Kashmir as well as the North East.

      Former militants who have realised the futility of violence and have given up arms must not be humiliated and be object of persisten suspicion.

      Kashmir being such a controversial issue with the history it has, no politician worth his or her salt would like to take radical decisions and commit political suicide. The onus therefore is on people-to-people contact and relationships. State-actors on both sides cannot be expected to show the foresight or vision to resolve the issue.

      There is pleasure in the pathless woods;
      There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
      There is society, where none intrudes,
      By the deep sea, and music in its roar,
      I love not man the less, but Nature more.

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