When will the collective Indian conscience wake up? A more fundamental question to be asked may be: does there exist anything called, moral conscience in its collective national psychology? Are a billion people living in that country ignorant or unmindful of what their government has been doing in Kashmir for the last 63 years, more particularly in the last 20 years? Are they aware of the genocidal campaign Indian security forces have been waging in Kashmir since 1990? Do the Indian masses and intellectuals know the human cost of their war on people of Kashmir? Do they even care to know the financial cost of maintaining over half a million of active combatants combating an unarmed civilian disobedience?
These are some of the troubling questions we are posing to the Indian society. These questions must be addressed by the Indian opinion leaders and intellectuals, and also the world community, which has maintained a criminally-complicit silence on the Kashmir issue. These questions have immediate and direct relevance to the safety and security of the entire population living under Indian occupation.
It is customary and/or fashionable to refer to Mahatma Gandhi as the epitome of non-violence in political and/or racial emancipation. Ironically, though, his is one of a handful of nations that insists on using violence and force to achieve its political and territorial objectives and regional hegemony. The nation of one of the most well known proponents of nonviolence leaders of the 20th century turns out to be one of the most ruthless, repressive and violent one. It is not a new policy of Gandhi’s India. This violent policy to achieve its strategic objectives has characterized all of its post-independence years since 1947.
First, it was the genocide of 1947 during the partition of British India, in which millions of innocent Muslims of all ages were massacred all across the country That unprecedented and premeditated terror and mayhem was unleashed against Muslims for simply daring to demand a homeland of their own to protect their religious culture and identity against the imminent danger of Hindutva. Hindutva is a radical program of the right wing Hindus who seek Hinduization of all elements Indian society, subsuming the religious identities of a vast population of other religious groups, such as Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. One of the sad dichotomies of Mahatma Gandhi, like several of his other dichotomies was, that he too endorsed or the ideology of Hinduization, albeit in a subtle, nuanced or even insidious way, without countenancing violence. He supported Hindutva for the greater good of India, while he knew fully well that it would be at the cost of other religious and ethnic communities. It encompassed the so-called untouchable class, variously called the Dalits, Shoodras or Achhoots in the established Hindu social class and caste categorization. Muslims feared that ideology of Brahamin Fascism and launched a political campaign based on two-nation theory, one for Hindus and one for Muslims, each living side by side with the other, but preserving and promoting their own distinctive religious culture.
Systematic genocide and campaigns of ethnic cleansing; systematic discrimination against Muslims in job and educational opportunities continued year after year until Muslims’ capacity to resist Hindu onslaught was decimated, their religious culture and language severely demolished and their socioeconomic status reduced to rubble. With tacit British participation and collusion, Hindus were able to reduce yesterday’s Muslim ruling community to a mere beggar class, with putrid ghettos of Jamia Masjid in Delhi and slums of Lukhnow, Agra, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad and numerous others. Yesterday’s rulers cannot even find a decent job even as a clerk in a low level office. That is what Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding leader of Pakistan feared, and Indians have proved him right by their treatment of Muslims in post-partition India. That is the post-colonial legacy of Anglo-Indian nexus. Indian conscience has never shown remorse about the massacres and the oppression of its Muslim population since its independence. Far from that, Indian psychology is impregnated with venom and vengeance against Pakistan and its ideology. One sees no signs of any change in their collective thinking visa-a-vis their neighbor on the horizon. Right from the inception of the two new states, India has never missed an opportunity to discredit the two-nation theory and to demolish Pakistan.
Invasion and occupation of Jammu and Kashmir was the first, the most telling and the most aggressive expression of that spirit of vengeance. That also proved to be the most destabilizing belligerency which continues to have reverberations and ripples in the form of conventional and nuclear arms race, three major wars, and continued catastrophic loss of life and limb in the occupied Kashmir. Neither India, nor Pakistan seems to be able to walk away from this tragic scene of this human suffering. With a deadly combination of bruit power and numb conscience India has become a regional bully that won’t stop at anything, just as it proved in Punjab against Sikh uprising. Pakistan is weak, but it too cannot walk away from its professed moral, diplomatic and political obligation to its Muslim brothers in Kashmir. Like a wounded boxer it seems to rise and wobble along to take the punches at the encouragement and shaming of its people who want it to keep on fighting until Kashmir is free. Tall order, but that is the reality of this historic injustice.
In order to inflict a crushing punch, India intrigued once again and successfully so, to bloody and break up Pakistan in 1971 by invading East Pakistan. It was meant not only to dissuade Pakistan from supporting Kashmir freedom struggle, but equally so, to deliver a crushing blow to the two-nation theory which provided the ideological basis for the creation and continued existence of Pakistan. India was successful in this venture using Machiavellian and Chankian techniques at the national, regional and diplomatic fronts. India did not dare to occupy the newly ceded nation, Bangladesh, with an absolute Muslim majority. Instead it contented itself with creating a weak state which can be bullied at will. Indian involvement in the creation of that client state has piled a tremendous of collective guilt on the Bangladeshi Muslims. It separated them from a heroic history of their fathers who were in the vanguard of creation of Pakistan. Literally within a generation, their parents’ hard fought freedom for an Islamic nation was negated and obliterated through the joint connivance of their autocratic and charismatic, but misguided leader, Sheikh Mujeeb-U-Rehman and India. This collective feeling of guilt of national betrayal has left them with a serious degree of confusion and identity crisis. India made them to cede from Muslim Pakistan. India at the same time continues to hold the poverty stricken West Bengal within its union. If at all they wanted to opt out of Pakistan on racial and linguistic basis, they should have made Indian Bengal join them in an all Bengali state. No wonder then that many Bangladeshis feel betrayed and resentful towards Mujeeb’s ruthless daughter, Sheikh Hasina, provoking the latter to impose dictatorial and oppressive regimes on the dissenting democratic forces. India treats Bangladesh as a banana republic as it intended it to be, and Hasina is the instrument and the perfect puppet to play second fiddle. Once again Indians feel no guilt for fomenting internal discord and misery of 200 million Bangladeshis. Indeed, Indians gloat and boast about their Chankian feat.
Militarization of South Asia continued until India got Khalistan movement in Punjab crushed, even if it took, as it did, to destroy the most revered Sikh religious symbol, the Golden Temple, in Amritsar during Indira Gandhi’s military assault. Sikhs fled in large numbers in several waves to seek refuge in Western countries in the last anti-Sikh campaign. Indira Gandhi was later assassinated by her Sikh bodyguard for that sacrilege. In pursuit of anti-Khalistan policy India committed mass murders of Sikh youth ruthlessly. You see no remorse, you hear no regrets from Bapu’s followers. Their conscience zero to nil.
Widespread military operations in Northeastern Frontier Province and Assam have continued throughout the post-independence India, with thousands massacred and many more maimed and disabled. The campaign is still ongoing. Militarism has only exacerbated military’s thirst for more blood. Naxalites in eastern states of West Bengal, Behar and central state of Madhiapradesh have been fighting the ruthless military-industrial complex of the central government. The Naxalites are fighting to keep the land that belongs to the low caste Hindus from being expropriated by the industrialists. These are Indians, but they are not the sacred upper caste, so who gives a hoot. Militarism, no Gandhian non-violence is the popular prescription of the union government and its huge military-industrial complex to all situations at all times.
The latest military adventure of Hindu India goes far beyond its immediate borders into Afghanistan. Its longstanding ambition to project beyond its western borders is primarily fed by its vengeance against, and obsession with Pakistan. Pakistan is the absolute best reason for India to exercise its warmongering policies. Animosity towards Muslims, Islam and Pakistan seem to fuel its ambition and the intrigues that go with it. Despite its size in head count and land mass, India cannot get the Pakistan ghost of its head. It cannot stomach a stable, successful and progressive Pakistan. Heaven forbid, that might prove the two-nation theory right. How might that reflect on Indian propaganda paranoia! O, by the way that is the same consuming paranoia that is shared by the extreme right wing elements in the West. India is not alone in this anti-Islamic visceral hate and fear. It is in good company. From the archipelago of Philippines to tiny Israel, from the vast European Union to giant-sized Russia and from the expansive Canada to the mighty United States, there is a web of hate and ill will befuddling the minds of hate mongers. When it comes to anti-Muslims paranoia it is a welcome trait and much desired and promoted.
So India, Bapu Gandhi’s’ India, don’t worry, keep killing innocent, unarmed, sit-in protestors who want either liberty or death. Since you cannot give them liberty, give them lots of death. There is no one to shame you, none at all. Kashmiri Muslims are yours to bind and grind as you wish to. No one is eager to peek in to see what your rapist forces are doing behind the opaque curtains in Kashmir. That is the message from the ‘guardians of democracies and human rights’.
So, why such a deafening silence and a bewildering insensitivity in a democracy that calls Gandhi, the Bapu or the father of the nation? Why is India one of the most militarized nations of the day when it faces no real threats from its neighbors? To woo Western investments in economic and military infrastructure, India plays the China card. But, we hardly ever hear the Chinese beating the drums of war against India. On the other hand, what we see and hear is periodic Indian drumbeat against China on one pretext or the other. The truth of the matter is that, India is obsessed with Pakistan, not China. It sees Pakistan as its nemesis and its obsession. China is a convenient bogyman. Using the China card India, has successfully wooed the Western military arms suppliers to build a formidable arsenal, including weapons of mass destruction, such as atom bombs, hydrogen bombs and missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. President G W Bush was so bamboozled by Indian campaign contributions to his political party that he once publicly joked about giving Indians the most advanced nuclear technology in exchange for ‘sweet Indian mangoes’.
Don’t Indian masses realize that lasting peace, not just mirage of peace and prosperity cannot be achieved by trampling over the human rights in Kashmir and endless intrigues aimed at destabilizing Pakistan? Don’t they know that by pushing 160 million Pakistanis and 13 million Kashmiris against the wall it risks further destabilization of the entire region and radicalization of vast majority, including the secular elements of the society. Every other nation is also prone to radicalization and extremism, only worse. Indian society, including its elite class, must understand that Pakistan may be feeling somewhat vulnerable with internal and external intrigues, but instead of softening up, its resolve may get stronger and its stance stiffer. What if the current Afghanistan/Pakistan equilibrium shifts and the Western forces pull out precipitously, leaving Taliban with upper hand, and the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and Kashmir CFL(Cease Fire Line)favorable to Kashmiri freedom fighters on both side of Kashmir?
With the non-violent civil disobedience movement gaining momentum in Occupied Kashmir even in the face of massive repression, any recurrence of a full-fledged indigenous militancy would drive a death nail in to Indian occupation machine’s coffin. One cannot find a scenario where the current peaceful and robust Quit Kashmir Movement is going to die down allowing Indians to breathe a sigh of relief. If past is any guide in the 63 years of Indian occupation, it will be foolish to assume that it will not morph once again in to a militancy. The threshold of frustration with the foreign rule is becoming lower and lower and the risk of armed struggle is looming on the near horizons. That would be yet another tragedy, but one that might be inevitable judging from the defiant and frustrated mood of Kashmiri youth in the last six weeks. Let us hope such a prospect can be averted. And lastly, what happens to the future generations of the entire region if a nuclear war erupts between the neighbors? Who must take responsibility for that, but India? Voices of conscience and a realistic of war of mutual annihilation must weigh in India and the criminally negligent world to avert the catastrophe.
The way to resolve Kashmir issue is not through civilian massacres, or shelling peaceful sit-in protesters or stone-palters. Military may be able to face off against Pakistani military forces, but we have seen that it has miserably failed to persuade Kashmiri civilians to surrender. That is never going to happen. Atrocities, censorship, sieges and prisons are not going to achieve peace and security for India and Pakistan. The road to peace for India and Pakistan runs through Kashmir. No peace in Kashmir, no peace for India or Pakistan. That should have been clear to it by now. Indian leaders must dig their heads out of the sand and realize that its days in Kashmir are really and truly numbered. The wheel of justice must turn and Kashmiris must be allowed to go to the voting booths to decide their political future.
If there is any way possible to awaken Indian collective conscience, that must be done today. Tomorrow may be too late.