‘Kashmiris will stay with India’. This is what PDP Patron Muzaffar Hussain Beig believes as `the choice is not between India and Pakistanbut between paradise and hell.’Well, if it is so, what then stops India from holding a referendum in Kashmir. Give it a try and finish it for ever. That is the very root of the dispute which has cost us generations. Who knows Beig’s belief may prove right, but to make that omelet you will have to break that egg. Presumptions won’t work, if you really mean it, do it.
Delhi must take Beig’s advice and the world will know. Then `the battle of ideas’ or `the battle of perceptions’ will be converted into a simple battle of figures. Perceptions, ideas may lie, figures won’t. So what are you waiting for. Such thinking reflects the politics which we have been sold since ’47. Those who claim to represent Kashmir in Delhi always lack that nerve to tell the whole truth. They tell half the story and half they hide.
Even if Kashmiris opt for India as some of our politicians believe they will, will that reverse the elements of the story. It’s been more than seventy years and the occupation has assumed the form of administration now. Time changes the mindset. Time changes the priorities. Time changes the situation. But it can’t change the fact of history. Those who are happy with the status quo are happy because of the apparent irreversibility of the condition. It’s a bone thrown to our lot not a fruit we have chosen to taste.
Many compulsive and enforced relations turn acceptable with the passage of time. More the control deepens, faster the people forget the origin. This is the painful truth facing Kashmiris for long. They may accept a system that has held them by force, but that acceptance is a time-imposed compulsion. (As Orwell says) `the boot is on the face’. So the sheer presence of power silences people into accepting it by mind what they resist by heart.
The slogan of `radicalisation’ or `Islamisation’ is real in one sense and fake in the other. Real because it can’t be denied as a matter of fact. Real because it has damaged us beyond repair. But fake as it is been used as a convenient excuse by Delhi to justify their military control in Kashmir. Fake because our (who call themselves) elected representatives sell it to appease their masters. Radicalization is our problem, not their problem. Religion sure has been used as a tool in this whole machine of resistance, but religion per se is not the theme of the movement. What Delhi faces in Kashmir is what any settler will face from any native. No matter what the faith, the real dispute is between the weak and the mighty.
Another point is Kashmiris being `secular’. Yes secular we are, but not the way Delhi defines secularism for us. Secularism for us doesn’t carry a meaning which our politicians submit as a note of apology. Secularism – for us – is a respectful accommodation of the other. Tragically our being secular is considered our unconditional vote for Delhi which it’s certainly not.
I liked this `paradise and hell’ comparison. It’s creative. The `paradise’ Beig talks of, unlike the conventional one, holds its denizens against their will. You are being thrown into a paradise which you can only leave at your own risk. Hell of a paradise!!