Kashmir, yet again, routinely celebrated ´Indian Republic Day´ within the precincts of Bakshi stadium and as reported all went peacefully while keeping the entire Kashmiri populace confined behind closed doors. Indian army, a million strong, successfully maintained security, law and order to deserve accolades and some gallantry awards. Your army jawans who killed Burhan Wani were ´rightly´ honoured with such awards to add salt to the injury inflicted on people of Kashmir. For how many more years will this exercise continue remains to be seen?
Towards the beginning of May 1960, Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru tried his best to reconcile and make amends for the wrongs done to the ´Lion of Kashmir´ Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Pandit Nehru putting all his eggs in one basket removed Sheikh from power as Kashmir´s Prime Minster on August 09, 1953 unceremoniously culminating into his eleven year prison terms in Kud, KodaiKanal and Kotla Lane of Delhi and the signatory to purport accession document Maharaja Hari Singh to rot in Bombay to die there in oblivion.
Nehru´s sudden death in mysterious circumstances dashed Abdullah´s hopes leaving him utterly dejected as the only soul, after his return from Pakistan, was seen crying at Nehru´s deathbed. Sheikh cried because Nehru, he thought, had offered him the golden opportunity to free Kashmir from occupation. Kashmir missed second opportunity at Tashkent when another Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri intriguingly died leaving Shastri family in agony fighting till date to know Shastri´s inexplicable abrupt expiry.
Prime Minister, your rise to the top position emboldened some quarters in the guise of alliances to freely promote religious bigotry, and fascism. It is very unfortunate that a stalwart like Subramanian Swamy, harping on for Kashmiris to crossover to Pakistan or even branding Dalit population as the progeny of evil king Ravana and his wife Mandodari, is classified as an intellectual and a learned scholar. Swamy must be reminded of the large percentage of Dalits 33% and over 20% of Muslim population that cannot be ethnically cleansed. Sikhs, Christians and other minorities have their own grievances living in perpetual fear. Swamy has to be at least 30 times bigger evil than the Führer of Germany to reach to the cherished illogical conclusion.
People of Kashmir getting killed, maimed, many consumed in torture chambers and blinded through pellets go unnoticed but Indian army jawans also get killed either in combats, encounters or due to fratricidal tendencies. The killings of resistance fighting for a cause or Indian people in uniform doing a job to earn a wage are two different situations having the same gruesome end. Dipankar Gupta, a journalist, writes in Times of India that "The prevailing Kashmiri culture of militancy is neither up for sale, nor sweet talk. Neither can security personnel calmly load coffins, weighted by one of their own, and call it a well spent day. Clearly, it is time to change the roof and bring other people in."
Meghnad Desai, a columnist from Bengal wrote in Indian Express that If India is to make Kashmir love India, referendum is the only way. The Congress failed in the 50 years after Independence to win over the minds and hearts of the people of the Valley. The reconciliation process began with Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Reported in The Hindu, the Vice president of civil rights group, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights [APDR], Ranjit Sur demanded a referendum."The people of Kashmir are fighting for their autonomy. They have the right to decide their own fate. Despite promising to hold referendum in Kashmir, regarding the demand of autonomy, the Government of India has not done so, over decades". Another political biggie Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia called for a plebiscite in Kashmir during a Lok Sabha session denouncing the violence by blaming the government for using weapons against the people rather than supporting them.
Prime Minister, India is home to multicultural, multi-religious and multilingual one billion souls believing in live and let live policy. A majority of this population comprises of humanists, do-gooders and altruists. To name a few AB Vajpayee, Arvind Kejriwal, Radha Kumar, Arundhati Roy, P Chidambaram, Shanti Bhushan, Barkha Dutt or late Justice Tarkunde who on February 19, 1990 said "A grant of plebiscite to the people of Kashmir 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".
Since 1990 34 new countries were created as the dissolution of USSR and Yugoslavia resulted in the creation of most of the newly independent states. East Timor, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo and South Sudan were among the new countries formed without occupying countries using their armies to pounce on local populations to commit genocide. The would-be independent countries like Catalonia, Corsica and Scotland are in the offing and no violence compared to Kashmir has so far been witnessed. Unfortunately, Kashmir´s graveyards are full to the brim.
Prime Minister, it needs one person to take a bold initiative and make history. We know a referendum in Kashmir touches the sensitivities of a small but powerful percentage of India but a referendum in India from Punjab to Kanya Kumari could be a good start with a simple question "SHOULD INDIA LEAVE KASHMIR?" with two option YES or NO. Please give it a try.