Kashmir versus New Delhi

Present Kashmir unrest seems to be making hardly any impact on New Delhi. Nearly 60 persons have been killed in the unending cycle of violence that started on June 11 this year and there seems no end to it.

 Kashmiris have poured their heart out to make the international community aware about the fact that they want azadi and nothing short of it would be acceptable to them. But New Delhi’s cold response and its reiteration about Kashmir being integral part of India seems to have drawn the battle lines.

One wonders whether people wanting azadi can strike any deal with rigid New Delhi.  The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his recent I-day speech made it clear that solution has to be worked out within the framework of JK being an integral part of India and there would be no compromise on it.  The Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram and even the president of the opposition Bhartiya Janta Party, Nitin Gadkari, do share Dr Singh’s views.

One thing is clear that Indian policy on Kashmir has been drawn and they have decided to hold on to Kashmir irrespective of what Kashmiris want. Unbridled powers have been given to police and paramilitary troopers to tackle the demonstrators. Presently the state of Jammu and Kashmir is at war with people.

Kashmiris have been rendering invaluable sacrifices and are taking bullets on their bare chests. All the attempts of various agencies to suppress the ongoing agitation seem to have had no impact on ground as yet. So the war is on.

But one important aspect that many of us seem to have forgotten is that Indian policy on Kashmir since 1947 has remained unchanged. Since the day its troopers landed in Kashmir, New Delhi has been claiming that JK is its part and it has acceded to India. So the battle for azadi from India is as old as the Indian state. Kashmir is not a 60-day issue but a 60-year old dispute.

The Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani quite often says that nearly 5 lakh people have died since 1947 to keep the Kashmir cause alive. During the past 63-years Kashmir movement has witnessed many ups and downs. Armed rebellion broke out in early 90’s and most Kashmiri youth took up arms thereby surprising many people. Gun wielding youth during early years of their emergence called shots and they were able to establish their writ to a great extent. However, New Delhi kept on consolidating its strength in militancy infested areas of Jammu and Kashmir. After ensuring that its had got enough troopers and bases to tackle militancy New Delhi went all out to ensure that era of gun wielding youth comes to an end. In the process Kashmiris lost yet another generation. Unofficially more than one lakh youth have died across JK since 1990 and more than 10,000 people stand disappeared.

So the point here is that Kashmiris have been yearning to seek freedom for the past 60-years. Kashmiris during all these years have faced oppression, humiliation, discrimination and what not but they continue to remain firm in their resolve and don’t even miss a single opportunity to ensure that they register their protest is some or other way.  

Peaceful agitation against transfer of 800 kanal of land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board in 2008 and the events which followed proved to be a turning point in the history of Kashmir. The only thing which went in India’s favour was the assembly election in 2008 that witnessed more than 60 percent voter turn out. India projected high voter turn as the victory of democracy. Anyway present agitation has shattered New Delhi’s much hyped claim.

One very important point that all of us need to understand is that Kashmiris have been fighting for decades and present agitation is nothing new. Kashmiri youngsters, who are leading from the front and are giving their blood to ensure that voice of Kashmiris is heard, need to realize that directionless movements don’t take nations anywhere. Sacrifices rendered by them have to count. People have to survive to ensure that movement sustains. If life continues to remain paralyzed and no economic activity takes place then sustaining the movement can become a bit difficult. We cannot take the present agitation to the point of no return.

Leaders spearheading the present agitation need to realize that people have put everything at stake and they are waiting for Azadi. Many people believe that they would resume their normal life after troopers vacate Kashmir Valley and India announces that Kashmir is free. This is a very dangerous perception and it can have far reaching consequences. Expectations of people are very high. If leaders fail to deliver and India somehow manages to suppress the ongoing movement it can devastate a common Kashmiri. Kashmiri leaders need to ponder upon these aspects.

People of Kashmir despite all odds have believed for past 60-years that freedom is achievable. Now the responsibility of keeping this belief alive lies with the leadership. Our heart bleeds for all our brethren, children and our sisters who have been killed in police and CRPF action in the past 66-days. Now it is the duty of Kashmiri nation as well as its leaders to ensure that sacrifices don’t go in a vain and people don’t get tired.

There is no doubt in the fact that nothing can be achieved without sacrifices but our leaders need to remember that common man can remain patient till he doesn’t face starvation. So they need to ensure that people don’t starve. If they feel that indefinite shutdown is a way out then they need to ensure that daily wagers do survive. Many private companies too have decided to lay-off their staff as economic activities have come to a halt.

Anyway Kashmiris are ready to sacrifice whatever they have but they do expect that leaders do have something in store for them.