People line the streets like never before. State subjects, and I say true state subjects of Kashmir, shout slogans ofpro-freedom and pro-independence, notions that are deeply embedded in the history of Kashmir dating back to July 13th, 1931. Rocks are thrown, expired tear-gas shells are fired, police use brutal force, and the army watches as people burn the Indian national flag.This is the state of Kashmir as this was the state nineteen years ago. .
Indian headlines read whether it is time to talk of azadi, while noted columnists of repute in India resign to the fact of defeat in conquering the Kashmiri mind through money and the gun. This is how Kashmir exists, contrary to the lull in events during the Musharraf lead era. As a headline read in widely circulated Indian paper- “Tricolour at 8:00 a.m., Flags of Separatists at 4:00 p.m.” Yes, this is the state of Kashmir quite like its older brother, the mass uprising of 1989. Yet, this explosion of popular sentiment and unabashed distaste for India and attachment for azadi has not exuded from the masses with the gun but the protest, large and vast showings of unity. Flags of green and black, bandannas wrapped around sweat-ridden foreheads, and people with ultimate stamina reverberate throughout the valley while the Indian government watches.
A government collapses, a freedom group is united, and the young have taken the lead. Yes, this is the state of Kashmir, And through all of this, I, the observer, ponder whether India will take heed to what each individual Kashmiri is calling for. I watch an India, a country which proudly and bombastically lays claim to the ever ideal for democracy, a secular fabric for which the threads of Hindus, Muslims, and others are woven. Yet I wonder can this all be true. I only know of an India which believes in genocide, not human rights; in raw force, not dialogue; in occupation, not freedom. As I, the observer view through the lens of history, I see a country, its government, judiciary, and its media that have scripted a vast conspiracy to subjugate the will, subvert underlying sentiment, and coerce the very conscieence of the Kashmiri to bow down to the will of India. But alas, time, money, and strength invested does not necessarily equate to a positive return, a return India complacently expected would integrate and join Kashmir not only physically, but psychologically with the Indian public to the south. It did not account for this and now it depressively engages the thought of Kashmir being lost to the path of freedom.
India is at crossroads in its history, a moment unprecedented in its 61 year existence, not seen in the weakest of its times or during its courting of Hindu nationalism of the ’90s. It, at the most powerful point of its existence is experiencing the most mighty of its uprisings and yet fails to stop it. Has India reached its inevitable doom in Kashmir? Have bullets fallen short of piercing a revolution? Is it time for the unspeakable word, plebiscite? It is witnessing its national flag burned on its Independence Day, its ceremony being attended by non-Locals, its arch-enemy taking symbolic supremacy of the clock tower, its death being called for, and its army demoralized witnessing these episodes of growing magnitude. There is no real government, nor has there ever been, there is no respect for its constitution, and no realization on its expenditure.
What can India now expect from Kashmir? Millions line the street shouting for freedom, the masses talk of boycotting Jammu, and the Jehlum road has regained its significance. As I attempt to paint the vivid and emotionally charged picture of Kashmir, one can say this moment is original and unparalleled not only in the history of Kashmir but in the history of India.
India usually has never failed to get its way, yet in the most resounding manner it has failed for the first time in Kashmir and it appears that there is nothing to reverse this. A consequence of such is the complete emboldenment of Kashmiris that they will one day see their freedom from India. India entrenched in its political follies of the nuclear deal, cash-vote, and rising inflation forgot about the very issue that defined its nationalism and alleged symbol of secularism, the integration of Kashmir as a state and it occurred at the most heightened stage of its history. So now the Kashmiri can unabashedly talk of freedom, wave green and black flags, burn the Indian one, and sing tunes of freedom. The time has come for this because India forgot. Yet Kashmiris did not. So yes, this is current state of affairs in Kashmir, a state that has left India helpless and the Kashmiris hopeful of one thing- freedom from India.