By all accounts, J&K has become a nerve-wrecking problem for all the stakeholders in that region right from the Kashmiris themselves to the mechanical arrangements that involves India and Pakistan in this long and complex arena of conflicts, apathy, pathos and despair.
It’d be very lucid to say anything about ‘K’ without addressing the evolution of this state. Kashmir has been a lingering issue that should have been resolved way back. I agree India has failed Kashmir. Pakistan too has. They have failed to address people’s concerns. It has rather become fashionable to speak over the ownership rights of this disputed land. Grandiosity from both side of the border steals the limelight while addressing people directly takes a back burner. No wonder, empty rhetoric is what is left on the table.
When the British finally decided to relinquish the Indian subcontinent, they were discussing about how the future state/s would take place. Various ideas right from creation of nations on the basis of language, basic culture, region & religion emerged. Of all the factors, religion became the ultimate criterion.
Though the Indian subcontinent boasted of nearly all-existing world religions right from the Indic beliefs of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism & Sikhism to Abrahamic yet Indianised versions of Islam, Christianity & Judaism as well. Considering social passions, it was decided to include Islam and ‘the rest’ as primary dividing factors and thus, the modern states of multi-religious India and largely Muslim Pakistan got created.
But some regions became a thorn for resolution, primarily, the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir. Kashmir being a Muslim majority area was claimed by Pakistan for obvious reasons whereas India’s claims rested on ‘accession’ agreement signed between the Maharaja of J&K and the Indian government. It also needs to be pointed that though Pakistan was proclaiming itself as the homeland for sub-continental Muslims, even then, the modern partitioned India had more Muslims in entirety than Pakistan.
Also, Pakistan’s convictions further deteriorated when its eastern wing got separated to form the present independent nation of Bangladesh. The struggle for independent B’desh from united ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ was on linguistic basis and not religion as cornerstone. It somehow proved that religion couldn’t always be a cohesive factor.
Now coming back to ‘K’.
More than 60 years have died giving birth to this problem as it is, and still we are running in political circles. People who’ve been following Kashmir can easily vouch for the fact that not all is well in paradise. Sadly, it is burning. And I suppose people with a benevolent heart and mind would feel pained to witness their agony and would like to see an end to their sufferings. Kashmiris themselves are tired and are demanding ‘Azaadi’. ‘Azaadi’ from the daily humiliation they go through and ‘Azaadi’ to live in a functional society with pristine atmosphere. After all, it’s a basic right for every breathing human being.
No one likes Army or, for that matter, any non-civilian body interrupting daily course of life, and that too on a weak hint of suspicion. And it’s a naked secret that defense forces have used coercion and violation at a drop of hat.
Having said that, playing devil’s advocate, what I don’t understand about voices coming from the Valley with statements such as “Kashmiri society and Indian society are different” and that “Kashmiri culture and Indian culture varies”.
My questions are - What is Indian culture? Can anyone define Indian culture? Is India too homogenous to assimilate Kashmir influence within its society and national frame? Can you identify any single aspect (say language/religion/culture) and declare it’s truly Indian and rest as not?
On the contrary, Indian society is a vast and diverse phenomenon. India’s diversity is capable of holding variety of interests and ideas even when conflicting each other eventually leading to broad based assimilation. Can’t beautiful Kashmir fit into exotic India? Don’t you think of all the existing options for Kashmir its continuance, as part of India would be a crown for its own welfare as well as for an idea called India?
Normality must return to Valley, at the earnest. We all agree. But what after that? A permanent solution must yield taking all the relevant factors into consideration. People who have long reneged on their Kashmiri identity in favor of power should keep their mouth shut and mind open. They are misleading the masses into false utopian beliefs. It will be nothing more than a farce and eventually too late to reconcile with truth. Arrogant Army powers must be severely amended, if not repealed completely. Crime is a crime and that applies to everyone. Shopian rape case showed how fragile the judiciary is in J&K. The culprits were not held accountable for their misdeeds. It was blindfolded Themis that went to trial and acrimoniously disrobed. Events as such shouldn’t be allowed to repeat.
And yes, there is an undeniable gap between mainland Indians and people in the northernmost state. Lack of communication has been a huge deterrent. Tourism in J&K, which helped a lot in fostering economy, goodwill and camaraderie was, no wonder, attacked by the secessionist/terrorist elements. As long as people-to-people connect is absent, all other efforts will only be on paper. If we want to call a country with 28 states, then we better not act like a 27 states nation. Interestingly, Bollywood of the past glorified Kashmir as a tourist destination, but today, even it prefers Swiss Alps.
My post here reeks of parochialism and I can’t do anything about it for a very simple reason: I am an Indian. My nation was built on common aspirations, common dreams and a search for common identity. We weren’t forced to shout “I am an Indian” at any point of time. The sense of Indianness trickles from our heart no matter whichever state we belong to or whatever tongue we speak. Yes, we are facing problems in the form of poverty, Naxalism, corruption and whatnot but talking of secession of Kashmir, I don’t think it helps the case.
India has a timeless history of tolerance. Even today, we tolerate a lot. But frankly, toleration of sedition is one thing and secession, another. We don’t have to look weak. All we have to do is be right and right now, we are far from right. We are in the middle of somewhere.
Prosperous Jammu & Kashmir, Progressive India and South Asian haleness should be the ultimate aim.