Kashmir conundrum

Rising Kashmir

Kashmir conundrum

June 28, 2018

Javvadi Lakshmana Rao

The situation in Kashmir is very complex. For more than quarter of a century, the State of Jammu Kashmir has been on edge. This year, the situation is no different. While the BharatiyaJanata Party’s (BJP) sudden withdrawal from the coalition government may have taken many by surprise, the writing of its demise had long been etched on the wall.

Although Governor’s Rule may give our security forces a proverbial “free hand” in flushing out the militants, the ensuing political vacuum, along with a non-existent policy, may pull the state back to square one.

Jammu Kashmir has suffered at the hands of the political dispensation since the creation of India as we know it today.

Marcus Tullius Cicero had observed that any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error. The real legacy of a nation is not its riches, but its people.

Sadly, the Kashmiri lives never mattered much. Tragically however, Kashmiris have become more and more alienated, more bitter, more saddened, more hopeless.

Loss of lives in Kashmir cannot and should not be business as usual. Uptill now an incompetent government at the centre, and its client in the state, acted with characteristic and predictable venality. It has always been about Kashmir (who rules it), not Kashmiris.

The conflict-hit state has seen many Kashmiris, including prominent leaders and intellectuals, falling prey to guns and the gunmen.

The assassination of Syed ShujaatBukhari is not the first incident of this kind. Following such assassinations, condemnation and probe ordered by the authorities mean nothing, and instead feel like salt rubbed on fresh wounds.

A fully conscious Kashmir always knew that such measures was going to yield nothing. It is nothing but mockery of justice and political show-off. It seems peace in Kashmir is an impossible dream and such incidents would continue to happen.

The Kashmiri would continue to seethe in anger and the ones at the helm would continue to condemn and order probe while nothing will change at the ground level.

A long-term solution to the problems of border residents has to be found. Sporadic shelling along the LoC has displaced over one lakh people in the last couple of months. Not to mention, scores of army men who are killed day-in and day-out in unprovoked firing from across the border.

So many soldiers were killed and many more injured in the line of duty to protect motherland from the nefarious strike from the rouge militants in Kashmir.

In the past, we counted and still continue to count our dead and paying rich, highly patriotically worded homage to our army. Our Defense Minister and her ilk should stop calling soldiers who lose their lives in action ‘martyrs’. They are not ‘martyrs’ and no service officer or soldier finds any solace or grace in this politically-motivated label.

By historical definition, a martyr is someone who dies for his largely religious beliefs, usually as a result of persecution. Soldiers are killed in action or lose their lives in the line of duty.

Joan of Arc, Socrates, Bhagat Singh, Nathan Hale, Thomas Beckett… they were martyrs, just to name a few.

Soldiers are killed. Soldiers are slain. That is the language of the armed forces and their culture. Soldiers are victim of his uniform and a casualty of conflict, not a martyr.

Finally, mother’s lost their sons. Army lost their brave soldiers. The mothers of the soldiers like our mothers, are asking, how long we have to continue the oft-repeated homages and tributes and see no revenge being taken.

Truth is, these soldiers had only one identity, that of anarmy man. They had only one colour, that of their uniform and they spoke only one language. These army men were burnt alive while they were in their sleep. Does their death bother us at all? Does it make us feel so desolate and angry that we are desperate to do something?

In this, country every day, thousands of people take to the streets and burn public property, demand water, beg for reservations, for their language, to express solidarity with criminals and militants.

How many will take to the streets for our soldiers? While the Indian military bleeds and whose advice is not given the weight it deserves, India led by PM Modi has become a victim of his own illusions.

Our anti-militant forces risked their lives by holding the ground and showed unparalleled bravery in protecting the motherland.

A question worth exploring very seriously. How long must it take for a more coherent strategic doctrine to emerge? How many more will die till then?

Indeed, India’s Kashmir policy has been a blunder of epic proportions. No government has shown the desire to resolve, much less acknowledge it.

Solving this mess may take decades but it is important that we make a start. Quick fixes or crisis management will hardly help anyone, let alone the Indian state.

What the centre really needs is a vision and action plan to take this forward. We have had enough of interlocutor-run talks which invariably lead to dead ends. It is time we get serious about Kashmir.

Irrespective of where one stands on the debate, it’s more than time to ask some important questions and, by extension, offer some real solutions that would forever do away with the chimera that has long persisted.