Truth has always been relative to a people’s a belief. Truth for one nation is sacrilege for another. This has been true for Kashmir since forever. The Truth about Kashmir has taken such contours and colours for the people of India – that it is nothing less than blasphemy for the People of Kashmir. The Indian people have always wanted to see the Truth about Kashmir by eyes that have been blinded by a pride in their country, a pride that is build on rhetoric rather than reality – perhaps doing that does not weight down too heavily on their consciousness.
Kashmir = Terrorism / Kashmiri = Terrorist
Two words from a dictionary, Terrorism and Terrorists is the metamorphosis of a Nation – Kashmir and a living and bleeding people – the Kashmiris, for the Government, the People and the Media of India. The blood of Kashmiri people keeps safe the so-called integrity of the India, the largest Daemon-cracy of the World. The BLind INdian meDIA (Blindia) has always seen, heard and reported the plight of Kashmir with its blind eyes, deaf ears and biased radio waves. This all, coupled with the image of a vibrant and thriving Tourism (which has never been the largest bread-and-butter earner for a Kashmiri as has always been purported) and a (defunct) Peace Process in Place has helped the Indian Government unleash a reign of terror unseen elsewhere. Oppression, torture, disappearances, maiming, raping and genocide (Yes, Genocide) has continued abated for two decades.
Indira, The Slave of Delhi, The Peace Process And A Spark
The blame of the Kashmir problem is shared by many shoulders: the British, the Governments of the Dominions of India and Pakistan, the Right Wing Hindu Groups (ever since JanSangh), the Muslim Conference (later National Conference), Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi, Nehru, Jinnah, Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah. One of these names stands the tallest. It was none other than Indira Gandhi whose earnest desire to control the State Of Jammu and Kashmir, in a similar manner as the provinces of India, that destroyed the straw-strong relationship of India and Kashmir. Her reign saw bullying and imprisonment (following the foot steps of her father Nehru) of one of the strongest ever democratically elected Kashmiri Leaders – Sheikh Abdullah and thereafter leading an appointed and dictated to democracy in Kashmir after throwing the Kashmir State Flag to tatters (revocation of Autonomy).
Even the creation of Bangladesh, an extension of Kashmir politics, did not satiate her. Was it the fear of losing Kashmir to Pakistan that made her act this way? We will never know but indeed it was one of her progenies during the emergency who attempted to do what she did and he failed as miserably as she had (Kashmir never saw peace even after the revocation of Autonomy). Two decades behind bars may have broken the will of Sheikh Abdullah and he may have joined hands with her (Sheikh Abdullah would later consider his ‘coalition’ with Indira as the greatest mistakes of his life) but force and the nozzles of Kalashnikovs can never suppress the desire of a Nation to be free!
Oppression in different forms is the tool Congress has been using to suppress Kashmiris. When Congress dispatched its loyal than the King slave (Mufti Sayeed of PDP had laid the carpet), Ghulam – e –Dilli (Slave of Delhi, Ghulam nabi Azad), to Kashmir, its policy was in act once again and it was hopeful of reigning in Kashmir for good. The mistrust of the Kashmiri people, whose seeds were sown by Indira Gandhi, had grown into a full fledged plant and Congress, wrongly thought, that use of force and non-force in subtle and not so subtle manners was the best way to quell the rising.
The Peace Process, initiated by the BJP, acted as a decent cover for the Congress. The Peace Process was a celebration, it was a time to rejoice and bask in the glory of the good relations India and Pakistan were developing. People were flying in and out of Kashmir. A lot was going down in the name of Kashmir: Indian and Pakistani actors kissing on screen were claiming to be doing so for Peace; Sufi Singers flew in, sang a song or two and talked about the essence of peace and how music helps further peace; Journalists from Pakistan flew in, talked to and listened to Kashmir University students and never wrote back what they heard; Ambassadors of exotic countries teed off at the Royal Spring Golf Course, shared a joke or two and talked about the beauty of Kashmir; Junoon’s concert in Srinagar was supposedly aimed at Peace in the South Asian sub-continent.
The blood of a hundred thousand Kashmiris had been treaded on for long by politicians; the Peace Process gave a lot more people a chance to do the same, for personal glory and fame. The Peace Process was never meant for the Kashmiri people in the first place. The Peace Process, the Healing Touch and the Confidence Building Measures never made an iota of difference to the lives of Kashmiri people.
While all these abbreviations (CBM etc. etc.) were being thrown around the hapless people of Kashmir were seeing no real progress and no hope. The atrocities within the cities had reduced visibly but not in reality. Villages saw no respite at all, mortars turned more homes into rubble than ever, people kept disappearing and custodial death was still not news for Kashmir. As the International Media got stuck with covering Sufi Concerts, killings of an unprecedented nature took place in Kashmir: young boys aged 8 thru 14 were shot dead; a 19 year old tortured with hot iron rods and killed; a young man was frisked and immediately shot (the personnel were later rewarded 100,000); a 75 year old man was brutally attacked by an ambush party; a handicapped person, limping his way home, was murdered. All these were dubbed Mistaken Identity Killing, but how does one mistake an 8 or 75 year old to a militant or for that matter a person limping home! While Kashmiris were killed, the CRPF and the Army was being praised, rewarded and supported by the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister once claimed that less people died in Kashmir by bullets compared to the road accidents elsewhere! He even had the audacity to compare the number of women raped in Kashmir and elsewhere. Oppression grew in a well planned manner: the killings were solitary, targeted and always of innocent people. Protests would roar and then ebb out as they were dealt with strongly. Sadly each incident was forgotten by the people. To keep the people distracted, development of no real importance was undertaken at amazing speed and the people, for some time, fell to it: an Amusement park was constructed; gardens to which entry was restricted earlier were opened up; forts were lighted up and a large (allegedly one of the largest in the world) tulip garden was laid! At the same time changes in the administration were being effected: Non- Kashmiris now held all the top executive decision making posts in Kashmir, this was akin to the pre-90’s Kashmir, when Kashmiri Pandits were appointed to all executive decision making posts. Fear was being instilled into the people’s minds and by appointing Non-Kashmiris the government was firming its grip on Kashmir. The obvious resistance indeed decreased in Kashmir.
One is reminded of Niccolo Machiavelli’s words:
“…remember that as resistance decreases, suppression increases and the peace offered by suppressive regimes is often no more than the peace of prison or of the grave…”
However a people, any people, can only be lured by fake promises of peace, of progress and of development for so long. The desperation was growing, a burst out had to happen, the people did realise that the peace offered by suppressive regimes is no more than the peace of grave, all that was needed was a spark and the Land Transfer and the Economic Blockade provided just that.
A Few Hectares Of Land
The transfer of a few hectares of land being transferred was not the issue (there were some issues associated with the land transfer which I will talk about in a later post), as I pointed out the desperation had grown to such a peak that it just needed a spark and the land transfer provided just that akin to the rigged elections of 1987. As much as the BJP, the VHP and the people of Jammu tried, they failed in giving the protests a communal colour as not a single Yatri was harmed inKashmir, unlike the burning of Kashmiris elsewhere; which in itself is a testimony to the character of Kashmiris and their real demand. The protests were so spontaneous and evolved in such a massive and disciplined manner that even the Hurriyat was taken aback and they definitely had no plan to direct the protests in the beginning. The APHC might have thought, and in some ways rightly so, that the protests would die out like all the others in the past, but that did not happen this time. Even though no strike call was given by APHC, the people spontaneously came out on streets demanding the revocation of the order. The order was revoked and the government of the day had to resign. There was jubilation in the air for some time. Since the Land Transfer was never the issue, Kashmir was back on the streets, this time arguably against the economic blockade but as the protests grew the people forgot and ignored the land transfer, the economic blockade and demanded no roads and no electricity.
The people demanded just one thing: Freedom. And its hundreds of thousands of people out on streets day and night.
A group of people, holding a big banner inside the TRC ground, had a clear message that was making rounds inside the ground: “No jobs. No roads. No gardens. No financial packages—we want freedom.”
Perhaps the most telling placard carried by a quiet youngster, sitting in one corner of the ground, had a message of revolution in Kashmir. “You can kill a revolutionary but you cannot kill a revolution”.