Before I go, rant about sides and pull out a few dead skeletons, let me introduce myself because that has become inevitably important when one speaks of Kashmir.
I’m a native Indian who is Hindu by birth, atheist by nature being fairly political neutral having no feudal ties with the land of Kashmir. I’ve not been able to figure out whether I’m a nationalist or an anti-nationalist yet.
First things first, what is the Kashmir issue to a mango man?
Kashmir is New Delhi’s migraine. It keeps occurring and reoccurring to sting the conscience and paralyze the health of the State. You shoot in the pills, or pellets dwarfed as pills to manufacture peace of mind only till your migraine returns.
If the mango man happens to read news from Facebook or the most sold newspapers of India or the news channels with the highest viewership, he might say
All Kashmiris are terrorists. Kashmir is my land but Kashmiris are traitors. They kill the men of Indian Army and throw stones at them in public squares. What should the Army do? Should they stand unarmed? The real Kashmiris (the Pandits) were thrown out long ago and only tyrants are left. These people get money from Pakistan to create unrest on the Indian side. They bomb their own schools, hurl Pakistani slogans and are enemies of my nation. Such people should be shooted with pellet guns and Kashmir should be reclaimed from them.
If the mango man happens to read news not just from Indian houses and social media and has cared to do a few Google searches on Kashmir, he might say:
Kashmir is India’s territory which is advertised as disputed by Pakistan. It’s riddled with terrorism, some of which is locally spurted and some being sponsored by Pakistani extra-governmental agencies like ISI and Hizbul. The terrorism is in the name of separatist movement which calls for an ‘Azad Kashmir’ or an Independent Kashmir. To check the terrorism, maintain sovereignty and protect the LOC, the Army has a heavy presence and low tolerance level in Kashmir. This has been an intrusion and a constant prick in the life of localities, who’ve developed a disharmony with Army with time. The common man’s life has been severely affected by the imposition of curfews, shutting of communication lines, severe checks, and night raids. This disharmony with the State machinery has enveloped the general conscience of the Kashmiris many of who’ve generated a dislike for the nation and have been venting in out in different ways.
If the mango man happens to be a Kashmiri who’s lives in the next village down the next town and tills his land and sends his kids to school, he might say:
My life is sickened by the unrest. Return me my Jannat. They snap our telephone and internet lines for days as it were a toddler’s candy floss. My kids spend more days at home than at their schools. I can’t send them to tuition in the evening because I can’t risk them being out after dark. Sometimes, I even don’t get to read my Greater Kashmir. I want to send my child to India to study but it has become very risky now. Three children in my village have already ‘disappeared’. Another one ran away to Srinagar last summer and lost an eye. Now, he’s in jail.
Now for what I might say:
I could have lectured on the tarnished history of Maharaja Hari Singh, Sheikh Abdullah, Major William Brown, Indo Pak war of 1948 and Instrument of Accession. But no, my word is not about the land of Kashmir, it is about the people of Kashmir. You may ink latitudes and longitudes and make a contract to reiterate for decades, but you can’t-do that to people. With people, it’s the realities. And realities ought not to be drawn to course by an inked piece of paper signed by two ghosts.
Kashmir is basically a potpourri of all that has been said before. It’s not that the India’s Indian was right and the Kashmir’s Indian was wrong, nor the opposite. It’s a mix of all, some attributes numbed others aggravated. None of what is said is true, untrue neither.
In an attempt to clear the mist, let me point that the Pakistani Agencies do fund the Separatists who run havoc on the streets. There have been instances of public confessions and cases that prove it. The most recent one being the sting operation ran by a news agency that showed Separatist leader Nayeem Khan proudly stating that 2016 Lal Chowk unrest was financed by Pakistan.
But then are all Kashmiris sold? When Burhan Wani was killed last year, he was hailed as a martyr. About 2,00,000 people are believed to have attended his funeral. I ask you – Can any external agency have such a might that it can gather 2,00,000 people within two days just to stand in front of guns just by offering some money or a bottle of liquor? The last time 2,00,000 people joined a protest in Delhi was way before the Jan Lokpal Andolan, where people had radios, televisions, newspapers, taxis, metros, and expressways at their disposal. Our media houses went bonkers then. The Kashmiris had severed phone connections, banned local newspapers and road checkpoints at their disposal. And the media became its biggest enemy of all.
So, if they aren’t all sold, do they really sympathize with the Separatist Movement?Probably yes, it’s the reality. They were civilians who had never seen Wani but offered him janazah and called Wani’s death as Shahadat.
What about the Indian state?
The Modi Government till now hasn’t lent its caring arm to Kashmir. The government has played fiddle since its inception. The violence in 2016 was unwitnessed for more than last 20 years. The PM has dined with soldiers on Diwali, has done Man ki Baat with Kashmiris and has given ‘strong’ and ‘decisive’ statements in Parliament but the situation has anything but worsened. The PDP-BJP State Government is a symbol of compromise. The Chief Minister is required to show attendance at New Delhi periodically but none of what she has demanded has ever been granted by New Delhi. The Kashmiris have long begun to lose faith in their Government. Their CM or her entire Cabinet has always been in an existential crisis. Their PM rarely addresses the issue or leaves it to the Army to play his part.
An unfortunate recent instance being the voter turnout in Srinagar and Anantnag by-polls in 2017. The voter turnout was a dismal 7.14%. This is lowest ever turnout recorded in the State. The same constituency polled 26.4% in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Now was it just a bad day with violence and lax bandobast or do the people feel that Indian State has failed them and hence see no point of voting.
The India media sees Kashmir as a TRP Booster Pack. Play a video, show Pakistan’s Flag, put Allahu Akbar in the background, next, show Kashmir’s map in red, now men hurling stones video and end it with a ‘Bharat ka Taj’ or ‘Jannat’ Tagline. The anchors shout,’ Kashmir is India’s head, it’s our pride’. Knock! This head has a heart that beats. It’s still not a severed head soaked in blood.
The truth remains that New Delhi doesn’t care much about its migraine. They think it doesn’t have a cure. Probably true. All that’s to do is keep your pills, or pellets at bay. The next time the migraine hits you, just shoot a pill down your throat and a pellet down their eye and wait for the next hit. Convenient, isn’t it?
By Aditya Goyal