If peace has to come to Kashmir, regional parties must play a big role to end mindless violence.
Kashmir Valley is once again on the boil. The reason is simple. Continued spell of peace and normalcy does not suit the narrative of the separatists as well as the regional parties. Of late, they all are on the common page and are working together for their mutual benefit as they feel that their future is threatened. ‘Boycott politics’, which so far was the sole preserve of the terrorists, has now been embraced by the regional parties as well. Peaceful conduct of urban local bodies’ elections despite the best efforts of the regional parties to subvert them has sent shock waves across their spine and left them dumbfounded. Feeling the loss of turf beneath their feet, they were looking for an opportunity to reverse the trend and put Kashmir once again on the boil. The Kulgam incident was seized by them as an opportunity though it was totally unjustified. The said incident, the State’s Director General of Police said, was unfortunate but was a case of deliberate negligence by those who rushed to the ground zero even before the area was sanitised by the local police. But the self-seeker leaders of Kashmir lost no time in projecting ‘civilian deaths’ as ‘civilian killings’ to add fuel to fire and also provide fodder to anti-national forces to drum it as human rights violation.
How can civilian deaths due to utter self-negligence be termed as civilian killings blaming the security forces for the same? To the contrary, the security forces’ personnel put their own lives in danger to prevent collateral (collateral) damage. Rather than appreciating the security forces for their concern, the Kashmiri leaders lost no time in portraying them as villains and speaking in tandem with pro-Pakistani and separatist forces operating in the Valley. It was also not surprising that no time was lost by the dummy Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, in raising his voice. He tweeted: “Strongly condemn the new cycle of killings of innocent Kashmiris in IOK by Indian security forces. It is time India realised it must move to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.”
No Kashmiri leader, however, condemned Pakistan for unleashing terror, leading to bloodshed and regular killing of innocent Kashmiris. Pakistan, which has the worst human rights track record in the world, is the darling of the Valley leaders ignoring the fact that their own brethren in Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (POJK) cry hoarse 24×7 against the worst kind of state-sponsored violence unleashed on them. Sadly, people in Kashmir, misguided by the vested elements, have stopped to distinguish between the destroyer and the saviour.
Soon another non-issue was also grabbed by the discarded Kashmiri leaders in a bid to further spoil the atmosphere. The issue pertained to an advisory issued by the education department to “consider purchasing a sufficient number of copies each of Urdu version of Shrimad Bhagwad-Gita and Koshur Ramayana, authored by Shri Sarwanand Premi for making these available in schools/colleges and public libraries of the State”. A good-intentioned circular was converted into a communal issue when Omar Abdullah, former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister, tweeted: “Why just the Gita and the Ramayana? If religious texts are to be placed in schools, colleges and Government libraries (and I’m not convinced that they need/should be) then why is it being done selectively? Why are other religions being ignored?” The tendency of the Kashmiri leaders to give a communal touch to those decisions of the Government which they perceive to be anti-Kashmiri, irrespective of the sentiments of the rest of the populace, is not new. This includes major issues like citizenship to West Pakistan refugees, the dignified return of Kashmiri Pandit community, issuance of Dogra certificate, extradition of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis, demand of CBI investigation for Rasana rape and murder case, the establishment of sainik colonies in Kashmir and discrimination against Jammu and Ladakh.
Urdu, which once used to be lingua franca, of late, is being portrayed as the language exclusively of Muslims. This tendency is very harmful and will damage the social fabric in the State because it also happens to be the official language of the State. The Urdu version of the Hindu holy scriptures which enjoyed universal acceptance as magnum opus of behavioural and spiritual knowledge was not necessarily meant to be read by Muslims only but also by Hindus and Sikhs who preferred Urdu as their first language. In any case, the circular did not mention anything about not buying other religious books whose Urdu version is also available.
Unfortunately, the administration buckled under the pressure and cancelled the circular thus strengthening the hands of the communal forces. It would have been better had the administration stuck to its decision and delivered another big blow to the already sullied Kashmiri leaders who were sulking after the administration refused to fall prey to their time-tested formula of ‘blackmail politics’ and went ahead to conduct the local bodies’ and panchayat elections.
The advocates of Kashmir being a ‘political issue’ are neither realists nor idealists. They live in a utopian world and sell false hopes and dreams to innocent Kashmiris. They use the Kashmiris as cannon fodder for their own political gains. They fully realise that neither azadi nor greater autonomy or self-rule will ever see the light of the day. Yet, they keep feeding these narratives to the Kashmiris. This alienates them from the rest of the nation. While they continue to fill their coffers with money and provide luxurious life and modern education to their kith and kin, the common Kashmiri is pushed towards a ‘gun culture’ and radical madrasa education.
While the disillusioned Kashmiris look up to these leaders for their bright future, they keep pushing them into gullies of darkness through bundles of false promises. The day these power brokers also start speaking the truth and accept the reality of Jammu & Kashmir being an integral part of India as enshrined in the State’s Constitution, and convince the Kashmiris that all forms of struggle against the might of the nation are futile, the problems will cease to exist. It would be naive to expect that it would happen overnight but a sustained effort to change the mindset would be needed.
Kashmir today is a victim of radicalisation and numerous socio-economic issues. The vibrant multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-cultural Kashmiri society has turned into a monolith. The root cause for this is the greed for power. The zenith of this greed was the rigged elections in the State in 1987. Disenchanted and disgruntled by petty political games played to remain in power, the youth revolted. Pakistan, which always casts an evil eye on peaceful Kashmir, lost no opportunity to fish in the troubled waters and launched the so-called religious militancy in Kashmir. It soon turned into a full-fledged Pakistan-sponsored proxy-war with cross-border terrorism as its main weapon. With the introduction of Wahabi Islam, bewildered youth, fed up with repeated ‘Vada Khilafi’ (broken promises), got attracted towards religion. Gradually, the Kashmiri society is shedding Sufism and getting radicalised under the growing influence of Wahabism.
Pakistan ever since has not changed its stance and in fact, upped the ante in order to relocate the terrorists from its own soil into Kashmir with the hope of winning over the Kashmiris by helping them in their “struggle”. Unfortunately, the regional parties also use the Pakistan card to boost their political fortunes in the quagmire of Kashmiri politics, which unfortunately have also been radicalised with a very few nationalist voices still surviving. The terrorism in Kashmir is no more confined to those seeking azadi.
One has to admit that terrorism in Kashmir today is driven by the ambition of creating Nizam-e-Mustafa or an exclusive Muslim state governed by Sharia. Regional parties have remained ambiguous on the subject thus adding to the confusion in the minds of the youth and rural society in Kashmir. By remaining ambivalent, the regional parties want to retain the option of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
If these parties remain embedded in the past, surrender the present to radicalisation and continue to ignore the future of Kashmiri awam, nothing fruitful can happen. The regional parties and their leaders have to shed their negativity as self-seekers. They need to emerge as genuine voices of the Kashmiris who are fed up of ‘senseless violence’ and are yearning for peace. The parties need to become the torch-bearers of change in Kashmir.
Writer: Anil Gupta
Courtesy: The Pioneer