Deborah Orr, Scottish traveller gives an account of her experience from a visit to trouble-torn State of Kashmir and finds it hard not to compare the yearning for independence in Kashmir with that of her own country. (The Guardian - October 25, 2013). Her information regarding violence whether from Indian army or youth driven to militancy fighting for independence lends credence but so far as Kashmir’s political uprising is concerned the assertion that Kashmiris resort to ´suicide bombings´ inadvertently is disingenuous as it is unheard of. "In its battle for self-determination, Kashmir has sustained great injury. For all its serene natural beauty, it is a sad and damaged place. You feel depressed just from breathing the air" she says.
The feedback passed on to the sincere lady about religious intolerance is quite baffling as Kashmir has always been known for peace, harmony and brotherhood. The minorities mentioned still live there and it is true a sizable number of Hindus (Kashmiri Brahmans) left en-masse and the reason is very well known. The entire population of Kashmir was confined to their houses in a military curfew and Hindus asked to sneak out with possessions in darkness providing them with help and transport. It is documented and on record that once Hindus reached their safe destination; the indiscriminate killings, rapes and destruction of the populace started unabated.
Deborah Orr is the right person to judge the difference between two tourism attractions of east and west, Kashmir and Scotland. Indian film industry shot most of their films on the locales in Kashmir and after armed uprising in 1989 such traffic was diverted to Scotland. The difference is that Kashmir did not cost anything tangibly in money and material but trip to Scotland with paraphernalia cost a good amount of money and within a short time such visits to Scotland came to a complete halt.
The major difference between Kashmir and Scotland is visible when a comparison is drawn on the basis of respect for democratic norms, political or human-rights and recognition of international law. The recent referendum in Catalonia without any political hiatus or lacuna is an indicator that respect for international law allowed cherished aspirations of Catalonians setting an example for rest of the world. United Kingdom´s expected and committed referendum in Scotland in 2014 is another example creating immense impact on similar situations around Europe. Be it Basque independence movement, Northern Ireland or even far-off Falklands; an effort to solve these problems is in the offing and the day is not far when a solution as per the wish of inhabitants will materialize. People given a choice to express opinion freely is a key to civilized behaviour so as to allow people live a life free of oppression and tyranny.
Kashmir, with limited options available to interact with outside world for business, education or employment opportunities, is struggling and is faced with the problems within India due to rising religious intolerance and fundamentalism. The world community is largely aware of the problems and in this connection Scottish government under its South Asia Development programme funds the Mercy Corporation working to foster an ecosystem conducive for entrepreneurship in Kashmir. Hindustan Times reports (October 23, 2013) that 170 Kashmiri youth entrepreneurs started their business under this project. It is also reported that two Kashmiri entrepreneurs were recently invited to New Delhi by the Scottish government where they met external affairs minister of Scotland to share their future journey with him.
The dissimilarity between Scotland and Kashmir is not difficult to analyse as Scotland is part of independent democratic institutions cherished so much as everything else becomes secondary and takes the backseat. The belief in deep-rooted and sincerely promoted concept of democracy allows the rationale to judge situations based on humanitarian principles, liberty for all and justice. Kashmir, on the contrary, experiences a combination of circumstances starting with a military occupation by people having different cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious background which is not in tandem with the centuries old historicity of local population. The democracy practiced is more on paper and akin to ingrained religious fanaticism and hundreds of years of rivalries leading to death and destruction.
It is very unfortunate that the international community has failed to understand the urgency for helping to work out a solution of this long standing problem and dilemma of people faced with decimation allowing a fake democracy to usurp the rights of hapless people who can’t even cry. Deborah Orr´s visit to Kashmir is an eye opener when she mentions increasing number of people men, women and children visiting the lone Psychiatrist Mushtaq Marghoob´s clinic in the downtown capital city Srinagar, as many authentic reports in the past show that more than half of the Kashmiri population suffer from mental disorders and situation becomes grim in the light of limited medical care available.
Deborah Orr, a keen observer in her findings on the situation in Kashmir concludes that "I am in favour of independence for Scotland, in much the same way that I am in favour of independence for Kashmir. Kashmiri Muslims are contemptuous of Gandhi, the great man of peaceful resistance, who disseminated the slogan, ´Be the change you wish to see´. Yet Gandhi himself met his own violent end, precisely because not everyone appreciated his championship of Muslims. He would certainly be appalled by what India has done to Kashmir".