In the Valley people are out for Azadi (freedom). In India, people too want Azadi from Kashmir. At least media says so. In a programme, Face the Nation, on the CNN-IBN news channel last night, 59 per cent people said that it is time for Kashmir’s Azadi.The host Sagarika Ghosh asked viewers to answer whether it is time for Kashmir’s Azadi? The response after the show, in which BJP’s Arun Jaitley, Congress’ Abhsiek Singhvi and Mehbooba Mufti of PDP participated, was in support of Azadi with 59 percent favoring it.The debate commenced on comments of author and activist Arundhati Roy on Kashmir. Roy on Monday after participating in a rally to the UN office in Srinagar had said, “The reaction of the people in Kashmir is actually a referendum. People don’t need anyone to represent them; they are representing themselves. India needs freedom from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs freedom from India.”
Arun Jaitley, in response, described comments of writers including that of Vir Sanghvi and Swaminathan Ayar as “mere comments having no bearing on functioning of the government.” He said writers were free to write anything but they don’t run the State.
On Sunday, Vir Sanghvi wrote in the Hindustan Times, “Whatever happens, how can India lose? If you believe in democracy, then giving Kashmiris the right to self-determination is the correct thing to do. And even if you don’t, surely we will be better off being rid of this constant, painful strain on our resources, our lives, and our honour as a nation?”Arguably India’s most read columnist, Swaminathan A Aiyar, argued in his Sunday column for The Times of India: “We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now…Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.”
The writers, Arun Jaitley said, don’t run the State, and their comments make no difference. Jaitley said the protests in Kashmir and in Jammu shouldn’t be equated. “The protesters in Jammu carry the tri-color while as in Kashmir they carry Pakistani flags,” he said.
In response, Mehbooba Mufti said protests in Kashmir were peaceful. She said the protesters in Kashmir have not resorted to violence unlike Jammu where protesters carry tri-color and at the same time lob petrol bombs on Kashmiri drivers on the highway.Abhishek Singhvi said it was only the Congress led UPA government which was trying to solve the problem. He dismissed the remarks about inefficiency of the Congress government and said, “Tell me the party which is reaching out to concerned people in Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the issue.”
Sagarika Ghosh asked Mehbooba Mufti what mainstream parties are doing when Geelani states “we are Pakistanis.” She asked her to comment on Azadi, Mehbooba responded by saying, “Yes, we want resolution of Kashmir problem, we want opening of Muzaffarabad Road, yes we are for joint management.”