‘Only Kashmir is ray of hope in the time when the subcontinent is in darkness’ – Gandhi (Aug, 1947)
During the time of partition, when communal riots were erupted at every place, valley of Kashmir remained calm and no communal violence erupted in Kashmir among Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Mahatma Gandhi saw it as an example that could be torch bearer for the sub continent.
Now, after 69 years when Gandhi is no more to see what is happening, Kashmir is burning, violence erupted, people dying. Gandhi, who is counted among one of the top leaders of world and equally respected by all regions and races, probably could not bear what is happening today and his absence is genuinely felt by everyone at this time.
To resolve Kashmir issue and to bring peace, numerous things were told by many of us, about what should be done, what can be done, but probably the reality is that there is strong need of undoing what has been done. Instead of going in to deep in history, I would talk about things straight here. Kashmir in fact is very close to my heart, not as piece of land, but as place where people live, people who are genuine, simple and filled with love. I have one of the largest numbers of friends on this place of earth and this bond developed and even grown years by years.
Today, when streets in Kashmir are burning, there is debate in parliament. When youths are dying by security personal’s bullets and armed militancy also resulting loss of lives of security personals, only thing that you see is bloodshed in the region. Question about wrong and right has been lost in this miasma. What needs to undo first is the violence, of all sides.
There are so many harsh truths about Kashmir and the common truth is that everyone practiced here their strategies. This land was made a practicing ground since years and experiments of all kinds were done. These experiments were done by all, ranges from India to Pakistan, from mainstream to alternative and to separatists’ leaderships, from ground activists to arm chair intellectuals and even to common people of India, Pakistan and local region of Kashmir. Everyone has to say and to hide something, everyone has its own courage and fear and reasons as well, that finally results to nowhere. There is need to undo this fear and hidden agendas.
Present cry is about pellet guns as it affected normal life, it penetrated even children and it resulted even in permanent disability. Pellets when introduced, had a criteria of using specific numbers of pellets in available numbers ranges from 3 to 9, but this criteria was never followed in crowd control even in days of normalcy. It shows carelessness, ruthlessness and certainty of ‘impunity’ within security forces as they never thought that question will come before them from higher level of authorities that why smaller numbers (3 to 5) of pellets were used. On the similar ways, there were thousands of encounters during all these years that were claimed as of ‘militants’ but there were no reasons of rapes, torture, and disappearance. These thousands of cases of encounters also have loopholes in it and many of them were proved as ‘fake’ and ‘cold blooded murders by security forces’. Many of these cases could not get justice due to Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). It shows consequences in society where militarization and impunity against inquiry and punishment persists. People who were victims never found any place where they could get justice. Police, government, judiciary all were incapable or inactive in providing justice. There are thousands of half widows who are still waiting for their husbands, thousands of mothers who are still waiting for their sons. There is a strong need to undo this kind of impunity and undesirable and unnecessary actions to security forces. There is need to undo human rights violations. There is need to undo pellet guns. There is need to undo use of excessive force. There is need to undo AFSPA and need to undo militarisation in civil areas.
Kashmir issue has been affected by external support for militancy and leadership of separatism that no one can deny. Armed militancy started and it occupied the most dangerous line of mixing religion in to it. Mosques were used for azadi slogans, murders of hindus were committed, liberal lifestyle of mixed society got vanished, slogans of secularism became lost, an environment of fear started and actually the whole armed resistance became a sponsored program where emotionally attached people, victims and their kins have been exploited and utilized by a third party for their vested interests. Violence did not bring anything other than more bloodshed and more fear. It did not bring anything other than the irritation to state and arrangement of more force. On the ideological and political path, third party supported violence and politics pushed the Kashmir agenda backward. Demography of Kashmir changed. Hatred among communities was made. There is need to undo the wrong path (violence) and wrong style (mixing it with religion, getting outside support) for raising demand.
When we talk about Kashmir, we generally talk about people who have been killed by security forces, security persons who lost lives in counter insurgency and in defence and about Kashmiri Pandits who faced sufferings and migrated from Kashmir due to militancy. We always leave common kashmiri people and we leave the kashmiri leadership who got elected through elections. Hundreds of mainstream politicians, from panchayat to block to state level, have been gunned down by militants. Elections are happening there and participation of people increased year by year. No matter if they vote just for their basic rights of developments like roads, electricity and water. The fact is that they vote. There were incidents when threats were given to public to boycott vote, even people were beaten. Despite all such things, people voted. Leaders got elected, but huge records and allegations of corruptions were surfaced. There is need to undo electing corrupt leadership and at the same time need to undo murders of politicians, need to undo stopping people from vote.
Pakistan and India fighting on words on Kashmir issue. They have fought wars over it. They both have many things more to resolve in addition to Kashmir but Kashmir becomes centre point sometimes. Many things were said about this by both and it only made them more rigid on it. Wars were fought over it and it only made stronger position and increased arms and ammunitions of both. With this continuity of statements and actions, it is only hatred that is travelling and instead of making a positive environment, it is only making an environment of rigidness. To resolve the issue, negotiations would be done, flexibility should be adopted, and effort of dialogues with patience and with habit of listening to others should be developed. There is strong need to undo conflict talks that increase conflicts.
There is a need to undo hartals and curfew, militarization and militancy, religious extremism and human rights violations. Let people breathe normal air and let our minds open. Demands for Pro Freedom, Pro India or Pro Pakistan, all are political dialogues and need to be dealt through political tools of dialogues, negotiations, meetings and continuous engagements of mutual prosperity to bring a positive output. Kashmir has all the capability to be known as ‘ray of hope’ that Gandhi said once.
Ravi Nitesh is a Petroleum Engineer, Human Rights Activist, Convener-Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign for Repeal AFSPA, Founder-Mission Bhartiyam, Executive Committee Member-South Asia Fraternity, Freelance Writer and Columnist www.ravinitesh.blogspot.in