Why is Kashmir alight?
In essence, the successful democracies world over demonstrate intentions based on respect for human rights, individual political rights and right to freedom of expression. Sham democracies based on political convenience use democratic system to exploit and rule over people who do not understand what the concept of democracy really stands for. The successful democracy has again been exemplified by United Kingdom by taking a decision to allow Scotland an independence referendum which is set for September 18, 2014, Or Falklands which is to follow in due course of time.
UN Chief Ban Ki Moon again stressed that "violence is not the answer, all forms of violence should come to an end and that the killings must stop", Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, told reporters in response to a question on the current situation in Kashmir. (dnaindia.com: March 15, 2013)
Pakistan’s "Sheh rug" (jugular vein) or India’s "atut ang" (integral part) may temporarily satisfy remote controlled sections of the society driven by nostalgia but in the long run it will always be a zero sum game resulting in gory death details, ingrained animosity, flippant rhetoric and waste of resources desperately needed for uplifting the downtrodden. A cricket match becomes a question of life and death involving the Aussie-British version of Ashes hostility in the worse form.
Pakistan, perhaps due to inexpediency, inexperience or lack of political acumen, did not handle Kashmir astutely whereas India cashed on an advantage on the ground of learned and seasoned bureaucratic section of Kashmiri society offering free service to top Indian leadership Pandit Nehru, MK Gandhi and Vallabhai Patel.
Kashmir, culturally a symbol of tolerance and forbearance followed a system of political or social philosophy based on all forms of religious faith and worship, is introduced to a new culture of violence, intolerance and moral degradation. It is argued in certain quarters that "Kashmiriat, a happy synthesis of Saivism and Sufism, Islam and Hinduism" must be recognised and accepted as basis for understanding last sixty five years political uneasiness and turbulence and it will not be difficult to assess and analyse to find why Kashmir is alight?
Having the sincerity of purpose, and to understand Kashmir problem in its right perspective one has to go back to 1931 when uprising against Maharaja Hari Singh’s rule gained momentum and the rebel leader in making Sheikh Abdullah gave an impetus to already existing political platform to re-launch the political movement to free people of Kashmir from bondage. With the passage of time "Lion of Kashmir" slowly found the grips with the psyche of Muslim population and on the advice of befriending Pandit Nehru backed by the pressure applied by the Brahman elite group managed to convert popular Muslim Conference into National Conference.
The evidence is rife and well documented that Sheikh Abdullah was emotionally attached to the ideals of Pandit Nehru who made him believe that Kashmir based on the principle of secularism and democracy will help carve out an independent Kashmir and Indian ethos based on same principles will guarantee Kashmir’s well being and security. The argument gives credence to the fact that towards the fag end of his life, Nehru asked Abdullah to visit and negotiate a settlement with President Ayub Khan of Pakistan. A positive response from Ayub Khan was too much for exciting Sheikh to encounter and within hours Pandit Nehru’s unfortunate untimely death dashed Abdullah’s hopes. No one had ever seen Abdullah crying in a manner as at the deathbed of Pandit Nehru at Teen Murti (Nehru’s official residence).
Right from the day when on August 09, 1953 GM Bakshi was installed as Prime Minister, Kashmir has had no respite. Killings, bricks and stones matched with bullets a hallmark and destiny filling the graveyards as Kashmir felt betrayed at the hands of proponents of democracy and secularism. In between, Jashni Kashmir (festival Kashmir) a flavour of Shammi Kapoor era, and flow of tourist traffic generating economic activity gave a break to political activism but the yearning for Kashmir’s political freedom was always dormant in the minds and hearts, a volcano ready to erupt anytime.
Rigged elections all along added fuel to the fire and the political impatience took the toll converting inherent dormant feeling into armed uprising. The die was cast and armed struggle provided a rosy scenario and an achievable goal visible to many round the corner. Kashmir with a ´synthesis of Saivism and Sufism´ did not see the corner full of camouflaged thorns and all that was in waiting due to hostile political environment on international level making it easy for the powers that be in India to retaliate and through violence make the presence felt as a stark reality.
In order to break the will of the people, army with unprecedented powers through draconian laws, complicated the situation to a point of no return. Graveyards full of martyrs in every locality, a reminder for a common Kashmiri to remember their dead and the duty incumbent upon to perform the needful. The manner in which uprising is crushed convinced an average Kashmiri about the intentions clearly made known and the methods used hardening the attitude which many believe will go down to a few generations. India holds on to Kashmir by believing in military curfew culture, behaviour reminiscent of an Ostrich in a desert.
The experiment of political gamesmanship and tactical manoeuvres to further justify harsh methods to checkmate the populace, it seems, has exhausted the frequent use of phrases like Jehadi elements, terrorism and extremism amounting to psychological intimidation. A sympathetic wave in India towards Kashmir is developing fast and people as a whole realise that amends have to be made for the wrongs done. The right thinking majority in India are pained to see the suffering of Kashmiri people and the new trend is considered a positive sign as Kashmir was never as optimistic and hopeful as it is now to achieve their cherished goal of independence.
V M Tarkunde, acclaimed Indian lawyer, civil rights activist, and humanist leader on February 19, 1990 had this to say: "A grant of plebiscite to the people of Kashmir Valley is the obvious solution. If, as a third alternative Kashmir becomes an Independent Democratic and Secular State, its territorial integrity should be guaranteed by India, Pakistan and the UN. That would end the hostility between India and Pakistan and Kashmir will acquire the Status of the Switzerland of Asia. A Humanist cannot wish for anything better".
The factualism of Kashmir’s hospitable characteristic , while restoring its political rights, will pave the way to act as a bridge between two hostile nuclear nations and will welcome all with open arms extending hospitality to enjoy beauty of Kashmir or fulfil the spiritual hunger by visiting Amar Nath, Vaishnu Devi or Pir waier (abode of Saints). The key is that a will to do righteous deeds would make things work. After all, Hindus or Muslims of the sub-continent are deeply religious and majority start the day with prayers to please the celestial entities they believe in.