Naseer A Gani
Kashmiris have done everything to get justice. They are out on roads, shouting slogans of Azadi, getting killed, their children are flogged to death, in desperation after they see bodies of children they attack security bunkers and pickets. They go for two month long strikes, and continue with strikes after shutdowns. They are using all non-violent methods to achieve objective. The objective is to get rid of security apparatus which Indian state has established around them.
They are desperate to over throw it. They have not accepted the reality of India in Kashmir even after 60 years of Indian rule. They see Indian state through security bunkers, their previous generation saw Indian rule through political treachery and legal violence.
1n 1953 Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was arrested even though being the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. He was accused of being Pakistani agent. And then the instrument of accession was ratified in the Constituent Assembly of the Jammu and Kashmir in 1956 when Sheikh was in jail and his National Conference had launched plebiscite movement.
In 1946 Nehru had supported Sheikh’s Quit Kashmir Movement against Maharaja and had condemned the brutality against Kashmiris by the Army of Maharaja. Nehru wrote a statement titled: “Srinagar: Almost a City of Dead.”
“The whole valley was handed over to military administration…A reign of terrorism and frightfulness then began, Kashmir has been cut off from the outside world since then. My information is that far more people than officially admitted have been killed. A much larger number who were wounded were sent to jails instead of hospitals. Srinagar is almost a city of dead where movement is difficult and larger numbers of people are practically interned in their own houses, apart from the many hundreds who have been put to prison…Dead bodies are not being handed over to relatives for burial, according to religious rites but are soaked in petrol and burnt…So far as I can gather the State authorities are bent on breaking and crushing the spirit of the people and are using Army as if they were occupying recently conquered enemy territory.”
It was in 1946. That year Nehru’s heart bleeds at the plight of Kashmiris and at the arrest of Sheikh Abdullah by Maharaja Hari Singh who wanted Kashmir to be an independent State. And in 1953 Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was arrested on the orders of Nehru.
It seems Sheikh after the fall Dhaka in 1971 felt that India is strong enough not to challenge. The symbol of Kashmiri dream of self-determination budged. On February 25, 1975 he was sworn in as Chief Minister of the State. Why chief minister? Because, after 1953 Indian State had no courage to see two Prime Minister’s in one country. Pakistan which almost every Indian intellectual, writer, journalist, lawyer (except few) refer as failed State, despite the fall of Dhaka had courage not to change the title of the head of the State of Pakistan Administered Kashmir.
The head of the State in the Pakistan Administered Kashmir, popularly referred in this part Kashmir as Azad Kashmir, has title Prime Minister. It has its Supreme Court. Deride both the title and the Supreme Court of Azad Kashmir. Say they have no powers. Say they are at the beck and call of Islamabad. This might be reality. But the other reality is that is unlike New Delhi, Islamabad didn’t fiddle with the title of the head of the State of its’ administered part of Kashmir. It had courage to keep it. And India was so insecure to have it. It was so insecure that Sheikh despite being friend of Nehru was arrested on the orders of Nehru. Because, it feared he has ambitions for independent Jammu and Kashmir State. Sheikh became the Chief Minister and died few years later. But then Kashmiri realized quickly that Sheikh has not been fair to them by entering into accord with Indira Gandhi.
And in 1980-81, when they saw Umar Mukhtar, a film about Libyan revolutionary, they came out of theaters and burned Sheikh’s photos. Umar Muktar preferred death but didn’t compromise while as Sheikh compromised at fag end of his life, they argued.
Few years later there was upsurge in Kashmir. Kashmiris thought they could use non-violent methods to tell India what they are upto. They formed Muslim United Front (MUF). And, then participated in the elections to over throw Sheikh’ son Farooq Abdullah. Indian State came to its own rescue. It feared ballot of Kashmiris in 1987 and rigged the elections and declared all the winners as defeated. It forced Muhammad Yousuf Shah who was winning elections from Amirakadal constituency to choose different path. Today he is Supreme Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen.
The rigging of elections was great betrayal. Kashmiri felt stab at his heart. He couldn’t tolerate the humiliation. He looked at Afghanistan. And thought like brave Afghans he could also use force of bullet to force democratic India which rejected ballot to settle Kashmir dispute.
Armed struggle began in 1989. This time it was Kashmiris who crossed to Pakistan to get training to fight against Indian security apparatus in Jammu and Kashmir State. This is the legitimacy of the Indian State in Kashmir! That people at one point of time crossed to other side to get weapons to oust it from Kashmir.
Like in 1987 when non-violent democratic method of struggle of opting for ballot by Kashmiris was killed through violence of rigging, the response of Indian State was violent to the armed resistance. Fair enough.
Kashmiri saw worst. Killing, arrest, humiliation, and disappearance. He however also learned that whosoever the mighty State might be, it is not so mighty to kill the aspiration.
But Kashmiri had realization that Europe and the USA detest violent methods when used by others to achieve their political goals. He always looked to West hoped one day they will come to his rescue. He gave up the armed struggle and adopted non-violent methods. He lodged protests. Advocated Gandhi Gari hoping it might be acceptable to the West and at same time it might jolt conscious of Indian state, if not the State at least conscious class in India.
For three years now Kashmiris are out again seeking resolution of the dispute shouting slogans of Azadi. Telling Indian State that your methods have failed to kill our aspirations. Now listen to us. Now resolve the dispute which you took to the United Nations.
This time again the geopolitical situation is not favorable to him. Nothing is happening in the region that could bring any positive change in Kashmir. Nothing by now! Ban Ki Moon issued a statement few days ago but was frightened when New Delhi raised objection. He retreated and disowned it.
Indian State can browbeat Ban Ki Moon. But not people of Kashmir who are on streets taking off their shirts and asking forces to kill them. They fear nothing. Not the death. Fear of the State is no fear before the fear death.
But this time far greater responsibility lies with the thinking class in India. Journalists, intellectuals, policy makers and others. They must ask government in Delhi to end violence, whether political or otherwise, against Kashmiris in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a given situation in the region when Americans are washing off their hands from Af-Pak, you must know the big trouble is in offing if violence against non-violence continues in Kashmir.
If again Kashmiri decide to opt for violence, it will be fierce and devastating. These youth have seen everything. I repeat they fear nothing. In next two years things are likely to change in the region after retreat of USA from Afghanistan and if the violence against Kashmiri continues, it would definitely change thinking here. That whether violence should be responded with violence. If that happens that would devastate Kashmir, that is certain, but it won’t do any good to New Delhi either.
Better understand now and go for investment in peace in Kashmir by accepting resolutions of autonomy, looking at proposals of self rule, considering Mirwaiz four-point proposal and accept what Geelani says that Kashmir is a disputed territory. It is. It is the reality. Don’t expect rewards for denying the reality.