Month: August 2016

The Emperor’s New Clothes is branded Kashmir

Graffiti is painted on shop shutters in Srinagar

The archaic children’s tale, Emperor’s New Clothes is really a story layered with clever subtext. Something widely accepted as true or professed as being praiseworthy due to an unwillingness of the general population to criticize it or be seen as going against popular opinion (due to ignorance or otherwise). Never has this subtext been more relevant than the extremely disconcerting violence in Kashmir, just another chapter in what has been a few year dominant with public unrest in various parts of the country due to polarising reasons.

 

For almost 2 months now the beautiful state of Jammu & Kashmir has been overwhelmed with violence across multiple districts. The killing of a Kashmiri Militant Youth Burhan Wani in early July has sparked protests across the state, with concerned citizens and youths turning hostile due the increased proliferation of security and the transgression of personal rights of Kashmiris. Things escalated quickly with Pakistan and Indian representatives engaging in a war of words and the most citizens of our country trained their guns on Pakistan for causing this issue. However, if ignorance could be quantified, then the weighing scale would be out of order at this point.

 

What really plagues Kashmir?

To try to get the proverbial handle on this let’s delve into the quagmire that is Kashmir. The place that is known as Heaven on Earth is no stranger to problems. Dogged by violent clashes and almost always the tipping point of tempers between Pakistan and India, it is considered the most unstable and dangerous places in India. The State borders the only two countries that India has gone to war against and neither China nor Pakistan have eased up on their border incursion stances leading to increased deployment of security personnel, both with the Indian Army and the State Controlled J&K Police.

 

This rapacious growth of security personnel overtime has created discomfort and displeasure among the Kashmiris, leading to disillusionment with a Government that has been accused of little dialogue with its people and their needs. The increasing national identity of Pro-Hindutva activists, and silence from position of power, across the country has also threatened the secularity of the entire country and has further unsettled the already unstable Kashmiri populace. The communal polarisation was complete with the PDP merging with the BJP after it’s figure head Mufti Mohammed Sayeed passed away.

 

 

With requests of independent statehood rebuffed on a constant basis, normalcy has never been restored to the Kashmir Valley. Many of the youth are now taking to arms and are creating Militant outfits to attack security personnel. Burhan Wani was one such youth who was abused by Indian security personnel at the age of 10.

 

Burhan took up militancy at the young age of 15 and had gone on to become a commander at 21. He released a 6 minute video where he urged Kashmiri’s to report Indian security movements to him and his team so that they could ‘take action’ against the ‘enemies of the state’. Following this video, Burhan was shot and killed by the Kashmir Police, sparking outrage and protests across the state. Over 50,000 Kashmiri’s are said to have attended the funeral of Burhan.

 

Repeated Human Rights Violations

With an increasing death toll coupled with multiplying injuries and threats, the Kashmir unrest continues the disturbing trend of repeated human right violations in the country. The Rohit Vermula unrest, the JNU unrest, the Patidhar stir, the Jat Stir, constant attacks and murders by ‘Gau Rakshaks’, the Kashmir unrest and the increasing no.of attacks on Dalits in recent months are worrying. There appears to be an undercurrent of malcontentment that is being swept under the rug with no affirmative actions or resolutions taken to address the root of the problems.

 

Deeply ingrained is the belief that the evil conceal their dangerous predilections for violence, polarization and domination that when they wear them like bangles for all to see, the gullible laugh and call it a pose, or find it strangely charming.

 

When the United Nations Chief Ban Ki Moon conveyed his concern over the current situation and wished to send a delegation to investigate the Human Rights Violation, the request was rejected by Cabinet stating that it is an internal matter and not an international one.

 

This is where the pillars of logical argument start crumbling into fine dust. If the matter happened to be as internal as made out, what is the need to constantly engage Pakistan in a war of words through this event. To put things into perspective, the USA, UK, China and EU have all also released statements deploring the acts of the security forces in Kashmir today, but only Pakistan has been targeted. Also, wouldn’t engaging Pakistan automatically indicate it is not merely an internal matter?

 

Putting all that aside, irrespective of whether it is an international matter or an internal matter, why was the UN HR delegation denied entry to India? It’s not as if they are run by the US or China or Pakistan. The UN happens to be a non-partisan group that report facts and not opinions. A report from the UN would have equipped policy makers with information that could have been used to effectively curb Human Right abuse, however a golden opportunity was missed. One cannot help but hope the motive is not sinister, especially when considering a British team wishing to examine to communal harmony in India was also denied entry earlier this year.

 

Potential Solution?

Is there a potential solution for the issue raging on in J&K? In my opinion there can. I strongly feel Kashmir is now an integral part of India, granting the state independent statehood would have a debilitating effect on both India and J&K itself, as it is unequipped to handle the rigours of its geographical position.

 

One of the biggest reasons Kashmir will never be seceded by India is the fact that it happens to be a strategic vantage point. The Kashmir mountains and valleys make it a natural barrier from invasions outside the country. This will also explain why Kargil was a big battle for India as the points seized by Pakistan were critical barrier points.

 

But in my opinion the entire issue with J&K is it is largely viewed as a military and strategic place of interest for the country. So much so that there has been limited infrastructure development and minimal economic growth in industrial segments of the State. This has not only created a paucity in jobs but also resentment as the rest of India sees significant investment in the above mentioned areas.

 

Pakistan is a punching bag for a lot of issues in the State. The thought that Pakistan are the enemy is something that is pulverised into minds right from early school. This significantly affects free thinking as a lot of the issues really do not involve Pakistan at all. Schooling of an erudite manner needs to be in place to make Indians feel that Pakistan is not just a country, it’s a congregation of people. There will be good people and there will be bad people, just like how they are in India. The more this thought is approbated, the less virulent will our opinions be about Pakistan.

 

This more cultured approach to tackling the root of the challenges faced by Kashmiris will yield positive results, and while it may be impossible to remove militancy or cross border incursions, addressing issues by providing Kashmiri’s alternatives and valuing their life will drastically reduce the insurgents and will create a more positive and conducive atmosphere across the State and the country as whole. We have citizens that have incredible potential and hopefully this potential is achieved in the right way, by being empowered with knowledge and information rather than propaganda. This will genuinely help India prosper as a country with both economic growth and valuing Human Rights.

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