Situation in Kashmir
I have not been to Kashmir for years, but my recent visit to Agra in connection with my antidrug drive was indeed an eye opener with reference to the current situation in Kashmir.
Here I happened to meet with a group of some young foreigners who were in company of some young Kashmiri youth and who, though reluctant to disclose their respective identities, were however, extremely vocal and mind you, they were talking rationally. I was indeed taken aback with their knowledge about Kashmir where, they claimed, had been recently and had made good friends with local youth, a few of whom were accompanying them. As per their account condition in Kashmir valley is indeed worsening day by day and is extremely serious, alarming and volatile.
Naturally the Kashmir story is not of recent origin. It goes back to the carving of British India in to two hostile countries on the basis of religion, and may be to an extent of ‘caste and creed’ as well for Muslim migrants from India were given a different name, that is Muhajir, an Arabic-origin term used to describe Muslim immigrants and their descendants from a number of regions, particularly non Punjabi / Urdu speaking areas, of India. In several social circles they are still not welcome.
To my utter surprise, this small group of foreigners and Kashmiri youth starting talking giving reference to what they called the First Kashmir War of 1947-48 (The first of the four Indo-Pakistani Wars). They did not mince words stating that the Pakistani forces had, in the garb of a tribal militia attacked Kashmir taking benefit of the on-going communal violence in the Jammu region. Justifying the attack, they made no bones about their disillusionment about the Instrument of succession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh with India because of which India did succeed in retaining areas up to Srinagar and Uri. The Kashmiri lads, however were candid in admitting that they made this statement on account of their faith in an Islamic system of governance, which they further stated did not exist even in Pakistan, as it has been since ‘independence’. They expressed their wish for one pan Islamic rule in the areas inhabited by Muslims all over the world. (It was, to me, an alarming statement indicating their possible leanings towards the ISIS. Perhaps they did notice my surprise for in subsequent discussions they down played it condemning the violence oriented tactics of the ISIS.)
Our further discussion was more surprising. To my question about what went wrong after 1947, the Kashmiri boys stated that though Kashmiris wanted to merge with Pakistan on the basis of ethnicity and geographical continuity, but possibly they could have reconciled if their such of hopes were not permitted to kindle on account of the acceptance by the ‘Indian Government’ that Jammu and Kashmir was not really a part of India. The separate flag, separate laws, though akin to ‘Indian laws’ and the special treatment / status kept their hopes alive that one day they will be able to attain the status of an independent Islamic nation or may be as a matter of compromise, merge with Pakistan to start with and then continue their fight for a separate independent nation with the help of their brethren in the ‘Azad Kashmir’.
They alleged that none of the ‘Prime Ministers’ (read Chief Ministers) of ‘Kashmir’ were true to their land. Their prime and ultimate motive was just self-rule followed by the perpetuation of their family’s dynastic rules. They stated that Sheikh Abdullah was perhaps the dearest of their Prime Ministers and that he could have done a lot to redress their anti-India sentiments.
Talking of the present governance in the state they saw it as an attempt to ‘Hindu-ise’ their nation (as accepted by the Indian Constitution as well which gives them a special status). They did not either mince their words about the BJP- PDP alliance accepting at the same time that, having been aligned with the ‘Indian’ national government, it can ensure continued inflow of massive amounts of funds which any how ‘continue to be cornered and pocketed by influential people including politicians on almost a systematic pattern discernible since the very beginning’.
Showing horrendous pictures, stored on their mobiles, of atrocities on Kashmiri populace, they also shared some equally gruesome pictures of attacks by Kashmiri youth on isolated Jawans both of the Indian armed and para military forces. They stated that for quite some time educated and media / tech savvy youth have been joining the ranks of the armed militants and that Burhan Muzaffar Wani was not the only solitary instance. It is a new and worries-some addition to the on-going ‘Kashmiri struggle’ which is soon going to assume ‘international dimensions’. And that is is inching towards 'absolute impossibility' owing to the 'wrong handling by the Indian government, wait and see...'
these were the most ominous words...
(Comments… 1- These disclosures were made taking me as a freelance journalist.
2- Added and then removed the pics. )