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Kashmir, A Way Forward

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May 16, 2017

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By Mir Suhail

Kashmir is said to be paradise on earth. However when India started implementing its policy of ” Kashmir baharat ka atoot ang hai  ( Kashmir is a integral part of India ) ”  , Kashmir once the valley of red apples became the valley of blood.

Successive Indian governments couldn’t resolve the problem and  Kashmiris kept the pot boiling. There is no solution in sight , unless through  tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and Kashmir.

Successive governments with spineless policies, tying the hands of the Kashmiri youths, deteriorated the situation so much so that the unarmed youths are killed like fireflies . What is most shocking is the Indian government’s claim that Kashmiri stone throwing youths are getting funds from Pakistani  agencies .Political analysts believe that Kashmir is slipping out of India’s hands. Many feel that India may eventually lose Kashmir if tough measures are not taken with immediate effect.

Now every Kashmiri believes that Kashmir is  not less than an open prison. A harsh open prison in which no sunlight comes in and there is regular torture in torture chambers .The cell is claustrophobic , trapped in it are not just Kashmiris, not just Muslims, not just stone-pelters , not just Gujjars and Pahadis , not just Ladhakis, but also the people of India and Pakistan. Someone locked us all in and threw away the keys away.

Kashmiris are willing to die for Kashmiri nationalism, they call it shahadat. One of the saddest moments of my life was to meet a 19-year-old student in North Kashmir ,  who said he wanted to die of ‘Indian bullets’ while pelting stones. His martyrdom, he said, will bring Freedom for Kashmir. He may not be around to see this Azaadi ( Freedom) , alas, but he wanted to escape the prison of life. His father was  killed when forces took his father when he was on his way home from his  shop , located near his house . Since his death many in the family are mentally unwell .The young boy wanted revenge. What madness is this?

Every home in Kashmir has such heartbreaking stories to tell. Kashmir may be heaven on earth for the tourists but it’s the saddest place on earth for its denizens.

And now Kashmiri students throw stones at Indian government forces again after the attack by Indian government forces on students, on April 09, 2017, in Govt Degree College Pulwama, the southern part  of Kashmir.  Fresh clashes erupted between Kashmiri students and Indian government forces  in every nook and corner of the valley .

As another set of toddlers turn into teenagers and learn stories of the repression of Kashmir from friends, family elders, books and journals, the internet and the graveyard memorials of the martyrs they get angry. As many as a Lakh of people have sacrificed their lives  for Kashmir . I asked the young boy, “How will your shahadat bring Azadi? “It will,” he insisted, “it will.” We will wait a 1000 years if we must , things change so fast , look at Syria , look at the West . How long will they hold on to us “.

Kashmir has become a factory of martyrs  . Like any factory, its processes are repetitive and banal. If someone is dead, with stones as their weapons, the  death produces a few more misconceptions among Indians . From  TV to Twitter , Facebook to Instagram , the mainland India calls him a terrorist, and Kashmiris  calls him a martyr and his name becomes a legend in his neighbourhood .

For most of the Kashmiris , it’s a wall you try to break down at your own risk.

I once again asked a question to a young and delicate business student. Is Kashmir a economic or social issue? He said ” neither it’s a economic nor a social issue , the aspirations of every Kashmiri is entirely political , freedom is what we want not jobs , giving people jobs is a step  but not a solution , the violence is a reminder that Kashmiris still don’t consider themselves as part of india and a proof that they never will “.

India has maintained a force of several hundred thousands of troops and paramilitary forces in Kashmir , which has turned it  into a military camp frequently under  curfew and always under the gun  .

When I asked such uncomfortable questions, even after being a member of  Students Union ( All J&K Students Union ) , some people  labeled me as an agent of political party. I stopped asking question since   people were not ready to answer me .

Kashmiris  have rights and aspirations that the world outside the Kashmir valley doesn’t want to know. Yet Kashmiris also have to understand their open wounds are as much  caused by the politcal class. Kashmiris are oppressed, yes, but the oppressor is not a single entity.  The PDP-BJP alliance is a marriage of convenience which is used to keep Kashmiris suppressed and confused.

As BJP general secretary Ram Madhav recently said of the use of human shield by the Indian Army in Kashmir, “All is fair in love and war.” This statement is a confirmation that India is at war with what it calls its own people. The statement also raises the question of love. Where is the love?

Ram Madhav’s idea of handling Kashmir is no different from  war tactics. It is to strengthen   wall of the  prison in which Kashmiris are caged in so Kashmiris can bang their heads on it with ever greater ferocity. It is not just Kashmiris who lose their lives in this prison. The body bags come home to the Indian hinterland too, a voice cries out that these lives could be saved if we had said all is fair in love .

But love is for the weak. India wants to be a strong and brave super prime time nation. India thinks it becomes a greater nation by blinding Kashmiris with pellet guns so that they see no evil anymore. They  wonder if india is losing Kashmir. They gave up on Kashmiris long ago in a hoary past we choose to forget. It was when Nehru went back on his promise to let Kashmiris decide and put Sheikh Abdullah in jail.

Videos and images from Kashmir travel via instant messengers straight into Pakistani phones via social media and TV studios.  The same events in Kashmir prompt Delhi’s TV studios  target Pakistan , by raising baseless allegations that Pakistan is  funding Kahmiri youths to pelt stones.

Kashmir is as much an emotive public issue in Pakistan as in India.  Indians, Pakistanis and Kashmiris can break down this triangular prison and break free. They can do so by picking up the formula  Manmohan and Musharraf had once discussed. Make borders irrelevant, demilitarise, give administrative autonomy, have joint control and eventually, some kind of joint sovereignty. A win-win situation that could make Kashmir belong to everyone. Lahoris could enjoy their holiday in Srinagar, and  punjabis in  Pakistani Punjab , a friendly relationship can be built on mutual trust

Mir Suhail is a Srinagar based journalist and  can be reached at suhailmir125@gmail.com

13 May 2017

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