Suman K Sharma
For the last few weeks we have been subjected to a cacophony of ‘azadi’ of Kashmir, so much so that the gullible are led to believe in the blatant lie. What is shocking is that even national dailies have jumped on to the bandwagon.
But the moot question is where do the proponents of ‘azadi’ actually stand. The fervour of these zealots has rendered them deaf and mute to the outcries of the Gujjars, the Bakkarwals, the Budhists, the Sikhs and of course the Hindus, particularly the Kashmiri Pandits ousted from the Valley against the stratagems and open violence of the Sunnis of the Valley.
The Valley is not the whole of J&K, nor do the Sunni Muslims of Valley have any exclusive right to silence and speak on behalf of the people living in 85 per cent of the State. The ‘azadi’-seekers won’t say this. They won’t admit how a handful of Kashmiri leaders systemically robbed Kashmiri Pandits of their estates by 1952 Big Land Abolition Act, the Debt Reconciliation Boards and such other legislations and administrative orders. They won’t say how the Valley’s much vaunted social fabric has been rent asunder by the successive Delimitation Committees whereby in places like Anantnag, Kashmiri Pandits were reduced from 30-40 per cent of the population to just an insignificant 0.01 per cent. They won’t let it be known to the rest of the world that under the Indian Constitution, Muslims in J&K, though in majority (which is the main plank of the separatists’ argument) enjoy the status of a minority. They won’t acknowledge that even in routine matters of compensation for damage to property, Kashmiri Pandits have been grossly short-changed. They won’t say that as an aftermath of the killing of Tika Ram Taploo on 14 September, 1989, as many as four lakh Kashmiri Pandits were compelled to leave their homesteads. They won’t say, in short, that there has been a steady and unabated process of silencing and elimination of voices opposed to the proponents of ‘azadi’ in and outside the Valley in J&K.
Much was made in the media about pro-Pak elements in the rural areas of Kashmir celebrating the National Day of Pakistan on 14 August. Do such people want ‘azadi’ or to join Pakistan? On a visit to Kupwara, this writer had a chance to see the Aman Setu on the Kishen Ganga, that connects our side of Kashmir with ‘Azad’ Kashmir. While on our side, the J&K flag of a white ploughshare against a red background flew proudly side by side with the national Tricolour, the other side had only the Pakistan flag. So much for the Kashmiri ‘azadi’!
The problem with the loud-mouths of ‘azadi’ is that they do not want to listen to the voices of reason. They think it is only them and no one else who should be heard. If Dr Jitender Singh lays bare before the nation their nefarious designs, they castigate him for ‘raising a new bogey of intellectual terrorism.’ But the fact of the matter is that Dr Singh is not only a Union Minister but also a son of the soil. Why should not he have raised his voice in the Parliament as a true representative of his people?
Here are a few glaring instances of intellectual terrorism from a national daily. A few weeks back, the paper carried on its front page a photograph, obviously photo-shopped, of Lal Chowk, Srinagar. The stark picture showed a gun pointing at a dove on the ground. It evoked the hue and cry of the alleged harshness of the security personnel towards the separatists ‘doves’. Can we forget that as many as 3,780 security personnel were hurt while exercising extraordinary restraint towards stone-pelting ‘doves’?
Then, on 8 August 2016, the same paper carried an opinion piece by a totally alienated 23-year old woman, fresh from a US university with a BA degree, alleging that “Kashmir has been independent and existed outside of Indian nation-state for a long time now.’ There was another gem of wisdom from her in her chaste phoren English: “Today, if there is a silver lining (meaning thereby the prevailing turmoil in the Valley) amid its bleeding and mourning, it is that it inches closer to standing independent of those forces that act, oppress and deceive from within.” If it is not an incitement to mob violence than what else is? Yet again, the paper carried a news-story about how Gelaani ‘sahab’ had snubbed the parents of a sub inspector who had gone to the separatist leader to apologise for his alleged brutality. It could have been the paper’s compulsion to carry the story but why on the front page? What was the motive behind that? Obviously, to spread terror in the hearts of the kin of the security personnel, what else!
Mr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, vice president BJP and MP Rajya Sabha in his article WHAT THE NATION SAYS (Indian Express, 17 August, 2016) has raised some salient issues about holding a dialogue with the sympathisers of Kashmiri ‘azadi’: One, is Srinagar a foreign capital? Two, should we allow Kashmir to secede? Mr Sahasrabuddhe has pointed out in this context that it was the people of the state themselves who foreclosed the option (to secede) through Articles 3,5 and 147 of the J&K constitution. Three, will Jammu and Ladakh also go with this secessionist streak? Last, but not the least, if a huge non-Jammu-region population can freely settle itself down at Bathindi near Jammu, why aren’t non-Valley Kashmiris able to gather the courage to settle down near Srinagar?
To paraphrase Mr Sahasrabuddhe, MP, Kashm-iriyat is important so long as it is in sync with Hindustaniyat. Mobsters and stone-pelters cannot be allowed to hold the nation at ransom.
The sooner this is understood, the better it would be for all the stake-holders.
Suman K Sharma