The Indian state and blindia (the blind Indian media) have been working tirelessly to brand Kashmiris as Terrorists and Fundamentalists and the Kashmiri Freedom Struggle as Terrorism. These endless campaigns have been successful within India, where people at large see the Kashmiris as terrorists and the human rights abuses the Kashmiris have to suffer at the hands of the Indian Army as the outcome of supporting the terrorists being pushed from across the border, conveniently coined as the Cross Border Terrorism (CBT).
Bollywood has lent a further helping hand by portraying Kashmiris as terrorists whenever and wherever they can. The most recent attempt was seen in Sarhad, starring Sanjay Dutt, in which the terrorist drives a vehicle with a Kashmir number plate. Both the Indian and the Pakistani armies are trying to neutralize the terrorist, the reference possibly being that Kashmiris are a bother for both nations.
Even though the smear-campaigns have worked in India, they have no takers in the west. The western media still sees Kashmir as a disputed territory. BBC, Encarta, CNN, Encyclopedia Britannica, National Geographic et al still refer to Kashmir as Indian or Pakistani controlled Kashmir as the case maybe. The issues of National Geographic on sale in India usually have an ugly rubber stamped on the maps of this region:the boundaries shown are not correct. Stamp or no stamp, it is not going to change how west sees Kashmir. Sending back or destroying copies of encyclopedia Britannica will effect no change in the policy of the west, that of Kashmir being a disputed territory pending final settlement.
The people in the west are still struggling to understand the difference between Kashmir and Cashmere Shawls. The following conversation from Orange County (Season2, Episode 53) pretty much sums up the confusions still surrounding the word Kashmir.
Abigail Stevens: I was saying that what’s happening in Kashmir just shows us–
Summer: I know! Pashminas this season were so cute. I don’t go anywhere without my Cashmere purse!
The conversation continues with Abigail telling Summer that they were discussing the conflict in Kashmir and whether Kashmir should be independent or remain with India and then ask Summer her opinion!
Western Experts On Kashmir
Kashmiris are not seen as terrorists by the west, not even extremists. These are the thoughts of an expert, Professor William Baker, on Kashmiris and their struggle:
On Kashmiris not being radicals:
Professor William Baker, who heads the California-based organization, Christians and Muslims for Peace, and is the author of Kashmir: Happy Valley, Valley of Death, says that people who live in the valley of Kashmir are not Islamic radicals out to establish a separate Islamic state.
“The people of Kashmir – those in the valley of Kashmir – are not radical Islamists wanting an Islamic state; they do not.”
On what the Kashmiris want:
“These people are extremely educated and open and free-minded and I’ve never met any Kashmiris in the valley who did not say that they don’t want to be owned by either country (India or Pakistan).”
On the Indian/Pakistani occupation:
“If one is an enemy if you oppose injustice, if one is an enemy is you oppose occupation, then okay, I am an enemy of anybody who occupies another country illegally or tortures or anything else, including my own country.”
The real threat, as the world perceives it, is from the Hindu extremists in India and not the Kashmiris Muslims.
On the dangers of Hindu extremism
There are real dangers. The Hindu nationalist danger is certainly serious.
On the Indian Diaspora’s being more extreme
…what I’ve seen of the Indian Diaspora … is that it tends to be more extreme, more pro-BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] than the native population would. At least that’s what I’ve seen.
The threat does come from Hindu extremist elements,the recent ban on Orkut is an example of the low level of tolerance for free speech. This news though has not been as widely covered by the blindia as was the ban by some militant groups in Kashmir last year on Music channels during the holy month of Ramadhan, yet another example of the working of blindia.
The Indian Army who are mostly seen as saviors by the Indian population are not perceived as such by the western experts.
K Alan feels:
There was something oppressive about the security presence in Srinagar and even out in the countryside. You really couldn’t get away from it. It’s like you were reminded, everywhere you looked, that there was a security problem. I could see how the people there might even feel like there was an occupying army because I do know some people feel that way.
History is witness to how India and its slaves in Kashmir ridicule Kashmir and Kashmiris- when innocent Kashmiris are killed in fake encounters, the government promises enquiries or rewards the killers; when innocent girls are exploited by the highest seats of government, the government shifts the case to a court outside Kashmir and reinstates the officers involved in the scandal; when people ask for roads they are shown the palaces the rulers will occupy and when people protest against the army – the Chief Minister promises the army utmost support. Despite all this, the international media and experts still do not buy India’s argument of Kashmiris being Terrorists and Kashmir a hot-bed of Islamic Terrorism. Frustrated, the Government has recently tried something more unique, more digital but even that will fall flat on their faces. The government of India is attempting to establish Al-Qaeda presence in Kashmir, which in their opinion should help them garner the much required American support. In the coming months we might see reports of Osama Bin Laden hiding in Kashmir and then we will see American Apache helicopters burning down the forests of Kashmir. The Chief Minister of Kashmir as well as the United Jihad Council has ruled out the presence of Al-Qaeda in Kashmir. UJC spokesman has said that Kashmiris know how to fight the war of freedom and there was no place for Al Qaeda whatsoever on Kashmiris’ soil. However one needs to remain cautious as the government of India will go as far as it has to to cry out loud to the world that Kashmiris are terrorists and Kashmir a terrorism hot spot, but none of that will succeed, not today, not tomorrow.