A mindset has taken hold in our country – by country we means people of the country and media people, excluding people of Kashmir – that does not in actuality consider Kashmir as our own. We assert that Kashmir is an integral part of India, but perhaps in reality we do not consider Kashmir as an integral part of India. Though we believe that the land Kashmir belongs to us, we do not believe so about the people of Kashmir. This mindset has successfully instilled an impression amongst people’s mind across the country that no person living in Kashmir does love India. Their loyalty is with Pakistan and, perhaps, keeping this one impression in mind, all of our plans vis-à-vis Kashmir are formulated.
These are reasons why no incident of Kashmir draws people’s attention, occupies space in the media or is discussed in Parliament. Only those incidents get small space where a sizeable number of people are dead either in police firing or in encounters with army and they too are declared terrorists, separatists or Pakistan supporters in a one go.
Why stone pelting restarted
As far as Kashmir is concerned no media house care to query as to how many schools and colleges have been built, what is the current employment situation, what progress has been made in developmental work , and above all why Kashmir, once termed as paradise on earth, is increasingly transforming into a hell. However, when, in the morning, we look at the headlines of Kashmiri newspapers on the Internet, including this one, only then we come across the real situation in Kashmir and pertinent questions are constantly raised, though in undertone. It is beyond us as to why the CRPF has been provided new pellet guns in Kashmir. Our Army Chief while taking over the command had announced that the stone throwers would not be dealt with pellets but they will have to face the bullet. No one bothers to know why in last six months stone pelting did not happen and why it has restarted. However, a channel, in its sting operation, showed some people saying that they earn 10-15 thousand rupees per month in return for their stone pelting efforts, and they can go anywhere to throw stones. How remarkable is it that all our agencies along with certain international ones have got their headquarters in Srinagar, but it is only the correspondent of Aaj Tak who got hold of the intent of stone throwers. It can also be inferred from the fact that entire government machinery in Kashmir is weaker and dwarf in comparison to a newspaper reporter. However, it is altogether a different matter that the person, who was shown as a stone thrower in the sting operation of the news channel, is freely roaming around in Srinagar and Baramulla. In a viral video he denied the claim made in the sting operation, saying that he uttered those things in a context, but they edited it to declare me a person who throw stone to make money. Now the question bobs up: Why is he roaming around freely? Some people believe that police and intelligence agencies gradually help some people grow in stature (like they did in the case of Wani), and then they encounter them. Will the story repeat itself this time around is matter of speculation only.
The government has wasted five months of lull in the valley. In those five months they could have initiated a dialogue, taken up steps to placate and win over people, taken serious initiatives to resolve the problems of people from a perspective different from the previous governments, but they did not do so. In fact, the central government believes that Kashmir has its own doctrine and that the government has to tread according to that doctrine. When former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha had met with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval after visiting Kashmir, Ajit Doval had told him that the government has its own viewpoints and policies, which he defined as doctrine, how could the government take a different stand.
Message of Doval’s becoming governor of Kashmir
According to our information, Ajit Doval is all set to become the Governor of Jammu Kashmir. A senior Director General of paramilitary operation could take his position as the National Security Advisor, which means person with a police background will be replaced by another person with the same background. The only reason to make Ajit Doval governor of Kashmir is with the view of handling Kashmir’s situation firmly. It entails also that whatever little freedom Kashmir has will be taken away, and people going Srinagar from Delhi will not only have to inform but also have to seek permission from Srinagar. Security forces stationed there may be given more power and whatever inkling of democratic steps in Kashmir can be checked. When I am saying this, I am only expressing my doubts. I do not want to believe that it will really happen. But one thing is certain that there is only one mindset behind not taking any initiative by the Indian government and that mindset is the demand of the people of Kashmir can be suppressed ruthlessly. Many people visited Kashmir, many people returned to Delhi from Kashmir, and went to other parts of the country and all of them expressed the same opinion that the Indian government should take a fresh initiative in Kashmir – initiatives of talks with the people of Kashmir and explain to them where their interest lies. The government has not taken any step in this direction even after five months. It proves that we are unable to visualize what the future has in store for Kashmir.
Why Kashmiris do not wage peaceful movement
Why do not people in Kashmir wage a peaceful movement? The only answer to this question is that there is no permission to peaceful agitations and demonstrations in Kashmir. In other parts of the country, people have permission to wage protest, they have freedom to speak their minds, but in Kashmir if one has to conduct an indoor meeting in a hall then also it is necessary seek permission from the police and the government. After Independence or even during the freedom movement, there was no ban on peaceful protest march. But in Jammu Kashmir, there is a ban on holding demonstration. Without permission no one can hold any demonstration. If there is a protest march, the police suppress it ruthlessly. Perhaps, this is the reason why people to express themselves have taken stones in their hands. These stones are not meant for peaceful agitation, but are the stone of despair and the stones of that spirit which says if we have to endure “oppression” and if at all we have to die, then why not die throwing stones.
Kashmiri leaders should meet people of India
I would like to acquaint the people of Kashmir of the mindset of the people of India, because the people of Jammu and Kashmir have not yet express their pain and their problems openly with the people of India. Though political parties have talked to the government, but no political party interacted with the people of India. The leaders in Srinagar have made a strategy to describe the problem to the world, but they did not devise a strategy to tell their problems to the people of India. Before 2014, when Manmohan Singh was at the helm of affairs or before him Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister, no leader or the political party of Kashmir has addressed the people of India in order to garner their support for their cause. As a result, in the rest of the country a sentiment grew that the people of Kashmir, or a large part of them, not only do not want to communicate with the rest of India but also hate them. Perhaps this is the big strategic mistake committed by the leaders of Kashmir. Now Narendra Modi heads the government at the center, now it is even more difficult, because the government has indicated through its intent that it will not allow Kashmiri leaders to roam freely in India. Be that as it may, the Kashmiri leaders and the wise people of Kashmir should, instead of visiting the world, take initiative to meet people of India and share their problems with them. In Kashmir, there is a wrong notion about civil society of India; they think that Indian civil society is oblivious of their problems. There is also a wrong perception amongst the Kashmiris that Indian civil society is insensitive towards the people of Kashmir. The question is not only of visiting other states of India but to talk about the problem.
Kashmir requires a fresh initiative
Notwithstanding, I would like to request the government and the Indian civil society that the people of Kashmir are closer to us than the people of South Africa or for that matter people of America or Europe. We want to take them with us, but we do not want to take initiative in this direction and do nothing to understand their problems. Whatever steps the government takes it’s their prerogatives, but the Indian civil society and Indian media should at least once try to acquaint the people of India with the pain of the people of Kashmir and provide a platform to express that pain. The Government of India should at any cost stop Kashmir from becoming a testing ground of international politics or international weapons. This is not only in the interest of India or Asia, but it is in the interest of world peace. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Government of India must be aware of this danger, because it is difficult to imagine that there is a dearth of people in the government who do not understand this danger. It is high time to initiate fresh initiative on Kashmir, before much time is gone by.