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Kashmir’s Freedom In Making

By Inshah Malik

04 June, 2011

Tacitly all strong supporters of freedom must in their mind ask questions explicably raised by the occupation. What is the dream of freedom under world’s largest democracy (which unquestionably is believed to be best form of governance?) Is the resistance questioning the very root of democratic justice or like many have said that democracy has never been manifested in Kashmir, if so, on seeing a democratic face of Indian state shall Kashmir’s dream to become a free nation cease? Why is freedom absolutely necessary?

Theoretically speaking Kashmiri resistance as many have argued is a cultural resistance and gets depicted as cultural nationalism. Kashmiri state unlike the modern state concept does not solely depend on territorial or boundary demarcation. This mountain locked region rests its expositions of knowledge and civilization on “culture”. It is interesting to note that since the foreign occupation has not overtly interfered into cultural legacy but has in many ways led to its growth by introducing modern ways of communication, radio, cinema and art. Although the upper hand that foreign culture has maintained in people’s lives has polluted it, considerably but to say purely on these bases that freedom is necessary does not sound insightful.

Someone has rightly said, there are two kinds of struggles, one is for bread another is for honor, in Kashmir it is honor.

The dream of Kashmir’s freedom rests largely on two propositions which are fed with sentiment of cultural nationalism. These are:

Justice for Freedom:

Justice is the key to resolve Kashmir, because ‘justice’ by its very nature is capable of soothing memory while memory is the fuel for resistance.

Justice is imperative for the lives of over one lakh families who are impacted by violent insurgency and counterinsurgency, to be accurate by the proxy war between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. The justice system in Kashmir still borrows its inspiration from the remnants of imperialist Maharaja’s Rule, under which a Kashmiri had seen utmost disgrace and dishonor. By the rule of Law, a Kashmiri who has resisted the Maharaja’s rule should by no means consider this constitution capable of justice, which is so crucial to all. The claim of justice to be delivered by those who oppress is a problematic proposition. The dysfunctional justice system is known to all; additionally the military apparatus shows the impotency of current state to deliver justice. The huge military apparatus invested in Kashmir makes this present state nothing more than a military state which works only on the basis of a primary rule of ‘oppression’. Where there is oppression, there is no justice, as a general rule.

If the occupational hegemony was capable of justice it would mean accession to India be welcomed as a logical conclusion, unless history was repeated (pre-1990’s rigged election politics). Largely “justice for freedom” remains a failed idea which therefore propounds an alternative which is now central sentiment in Kashmiri politics, “Freedom for justice”

Freedom for Justice:

The cultural nationalism in Kashmir sees the State from the standards of its moral scale as one that is given to moral corruption of highest order. A state run by the proletariat will not wither away but needs to be overthrown alongside the military occupation. Freedom (Azadi) is to come to install justice as the primary goal. This state would transcend morally to deliver justice efficiently which the oppressor is not capable off. Notably this state promises justice not only to the bruised and affected families but all people, from all sections of the society, religions and languages. Freedom would bring about successful closure to the memory and a path to move on upholding the cultural richness and also model indigenous developments while people of all faiths prosper and have space to discuss, debate and philosophize any knowledge or theology they want.

This would be a logical conclusion of this debate to say the least; freedom is for few, who gave their blood, their lives and commitment-Justice to them is ‘freedom’. This freedom would install justice for the whole of Kashmir.

Morality as a cultural fabric:

The cultural understanding of goodness will find its way to formation of a state, where Kashmiris can still brag about a crime free society, a society that cares for its young, old and children alike. A culture that considers women as equals to men and places them on an additionally higher place and the culture that can boast of being free of poverty and hospitable to the guests. The biggest democracy in the world can never provide space for morality since it is not its domain and it deprives its justice system the very premises of Humanity by occupying a country that never belonged to them lawfully. World might be impressed with this modern democracy but there exists a place called Kashmir which considers India nothing but an imperialist occupier which to prove its humane stance needs a dramatic overhaul for its deprived poor populations.

To understand Kashmir’s liberation struggle as only about suppressed nationalism is a flawed understanding. The cultural nationalism is intertwined with the ‘question of justice’ and upholding ‘morality of human self’. The state they aspire sounds one of those ideal democracies which haven’t been theorized by modern theorists yet. One wonders if Kashmir has learnt from the ‘failed neighboring states’ much faster than what they were supposed to?

Inshah Malik is a research scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.


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