What’s anti-India?

India is a great nation  and Indians have a  great  sense of tolerance. The  Indians have tolerated a terrorist assault on the landmarks of the country in Mumbai on 26/11. India did not go  to war with Pakistan, where the whole plot was knitted and directed.  That is an example of Indian tolerance because there are avenues of dialogue available. Today or tomorrow that option would be used.

Given this backdrop, it’s strange that the voices of Kashmir, of course the separatist ones, are being blocked  by some of the groups. It happened with  Syed Ali Shah Geelani and now it is happening to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.  There are two views on it. One is that the  limits of the  freedom of expression are being tested. In  no other country, such an expression challenging the  sovereignty of the  nation would ever be allowed, not even in the so called  best  democracies  in the world, be it the United States of America or the United Kingdom, And, of course, we have seen the kind of policies that the French government is pursuing where even the most modest symbols of Islam, head scarf, has been banned.

India, it  must be said and acknowledged, has been tolerant to the extremist voices  and it has  been holding talks with the people who openly challenged the  Indian ways. One of the examples of this was visible  when   TV  cameras relayed to the world  angry words of Geelani  to  members of an all-party delegation  to Kashmir in September.  Not only that  anti-India protests  before  Home Minister and BJP leader were also relayed to  the nation.

India and the Indian values were  straight winners. It’s India that  covered itself with glory by giving  full exposure to the separatist voices in Kashmir. That was the best way to do.  It was in the national interest. Blacking  out  news and views is the worst thing for a democracy. The expressions that are suppressed and  a cover up  of realities is against the national interest. Unless the realities are known, how can a problem be diagnosed. And if there is no proper  diagnosis, the  treatment of the problem would be inadequate  and imperfect  The Indian establishment, civil society and politicians should know it better than anyone else.

Now comes the real question. What was said by the  separatist leaders that  was anti-India. Apart from the call of demilitarization, removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act,, release of political prisoners, the stress has been on resolving Kashmir issue by involving the people of Kashmir  as also  India and Pakistan. First of all, there is nothing anti-India in  these expressions. This is what everyone has been saying throughout  that includes  almost all Prime Ministers  and some of the leading political figures of the country.

Even if the choice of words was not to the liking of some people,  the separatist leaders should have  been told that in a polite manner. The people who claim themselves to be the champions of India and Indian patriotism  would have  presented themselves  in a better light had  they adhered to saying of the French philosopher  Voltaire  : "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Had these separatist leaders been listened to, the image of  the country within Kashmir would have been viewed  through a different prism. Patience pays. Intolerance begets intolerance.  In such situations, where is  the space for the meeting ground.  There is a need to decipher between what’s anti- India or not.

Kashmir too should not judge India or Indians by the reaction of some  elements who disrupted the functions of the separatist leaders. They have reasons to see India in a different prism because of some other factors like the privations they have undergone  and the  kind of things they have suffered, especially during the past over two decades. But  what they have seen or heard on their TV screens about the  functions  of separatist leaders in Delhi, Chandigarh and Kolkota is not the real image of India. The nation  is too vast and diverse where these kind of elements also  exist as those exist in all parts of the world, including the Kashmir Valley. The image of Kashmir  is that of a land of hospitality and love and affection and beauty. Kashmiris are the best judges of the things around them. Perhaps, they are the only people in the subcontinent who  closely watch the developments in different trouble spots across the world and a better analytical  power.

The fact that Indians and the people of Kashmir should know that there are certain realities that cannot be obscured by the rhetoric or action or words of some people. These realities are known to one and all and  it’s high time that the  steps of Delhi and Srinagar move toward finding a middle ground, leaving the aberrations of disruptions aside.