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An Indian's Reply To The Open Letter By The Chairman, All Party Hurriyat Conference

By Ravi Nitesh

10 April, 2014


Janaab Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Sahab,

I hope that this letter will be read by you, at least because of the fact that it is a reply to you letter that was addressed to the ‘People of India’.

It was surprising and appreciable that you addressed the people of India directly rather than to any specific political post or party or person. I appreciate it as it conveys several things. It clearly shows your faith in a democratic structure that empowers and is made of the people’s will. It also conveys that you have faith on the people of India that they will understand the problems and will desire and take part in resolving the problem. Overall, I think that it must be greatly appreciated that you approached the people in general.

I am a citizen of India and because your letter was addressed to people of India, I think that you can treat this as one response to your letter. In my letter, I may support/oppose/reject/ignore few/all of your points and may also give my points as well, and I request that it should be understood as a response by an individual who is one amongst the 1.2 billion people of India.

As I said earlier, it is appreciable that you wrote to us, the people of India, directly. It is appreciable also because no other Kashmiri leader has done this. No other Kashmiri leader came on front to establish a communication with people of India. I think that it provides an outline of your vision, humbleness and hope that you are working for the people of Kashmir, that you are ready to talk with everyone and that you have hope with people.

Though I do not believe in boundaries, but constitutionally, I am a citizen of India and I do believe that there are a lot of things that we, as an Indian, never realize about Kashmir. Though I am aware about Kashmir and its tragic situation because I have tried to engage myself on the issues of human rights and peace, but I know that most of the Indians are largely unaware about sufferings of the people of Kashmir.

Our country is also diverse in terms of our challenges. We have so many issues to deal with, from the challenges of providing basic amenities of shelter, water, food to social problems like caste, communalism and to the political problems (both internal and external) including the conflict areas. The people of India are divided in ideology and motives and at most of the time, it ultimately depends on their own benefit like of any other common human being. But it does not mean that Indians do not understand the problems, instead, I think that Indians are emotional, sensitive and brave hearted people who stand for truth and justice.

So I think that the reason for this ‘apathy’ on the issue of Kashmir is not this. As per my observation and interactions, it is not really because of insensitivity, rather it is because of unawareness and also a ‘misguided’ awareness. I find it difficult to say that people in India don’t care about Kashmir. They do desire for peace, they do want the welfare of the people. But the problem is that they don’t know that who is disrupting this peace, who is blocking their path of welfare. This is because our main resource of communication and information about Kashmir is the media. All that people of India hear about Kashmir is what is reported in the newspapers. People of India do feel bad for the people of Kashmir because they think that they are caught in a difficult situation created and sustained solely by the ‘terrorists’. They have formed their perceptions based on what the newspapers tell them. In the popular conception, Kashmir comes across as a beautiful land caught in a tragedy but that tragedy is caused by anti-nationals, the so-called ‘terrorists’. They do not learn about the state terrorism. They do not know that why people in Kashmir become anti-nationals because the newspapers don’t talk about that. They do not know the everyday horror that the people of Kashmir go through because their mainstream newspapers don’t talk about it. It is also true that there are people who do know about state terrorism but still they support it. They regard it as ‘necessary’. They think that it is necessary to drive out terrorism by the anti-nationals. But because of the lack of information and also a sense of aggressive and blind nationalism, they give little thought to what causes and promotes anti-nationalist sentiments. Like all countries, India has also inculcated the ideology of nationalism through various institutions including the education system and media so people of India grow up with a certain idea of India and extreme passions to defend it. These extreme sentiments also include an almost blind love for the army. Soldiers are great souls and their sacrifice is commendable. But the people of India not just respect, they have elated the institution to be a sacred institution. They do not know that with the laws that they are empowered with in conflict zones, the soldiers get arbitrary and draconian powers which they do use to violate rights of the people. They don’t know because the mainstream newspapers guarded by nationalist sentiments do not tell them and even if they do know, this constructed ideology of nationalism does not permit them to accept it.

Now, comes the question of public pressure upon the Government of India. After the general elections, when the new government will be formed, it will again have hundreds of priorities for the people of India. But yes, as you rightly said, the Kashmir issue should be one of the most important areas where the Government of India must focus on and we, as a people of India, must strive for that to pressurise our government. But this effort to pressurise our government shall include the sensitization of the general public as well because even though the government may find/have a respectful solution, it probably will not propose or implement the same if it will fear that its own people or voters may reject it. It may lead to increased conflict within the peaceful regions of India as well and may also prove risky for the larger population including J&K. So, a gradual sensitization of people and with the preparedness of talk, of negotiation and of courage to take decision will be required from all sides.

In my response, I would also like to share my hope with you. I am hopeful that we, the people of India, will stand for peace in Kashmir and I have my reason to believe. There are many Indians, many groups who do raise their voice against suppression. When an incident of human rights’ violation is reported, there are groups who do protest in other parts of the country and these are groups of not Kashmiri migrants but of the local people of that region. These people are those who truly believe in the ideals of democracy, truth and justice. These are the people who are provoked to take action on humanitarian grounds. I have reason to believe that these positive sentiments that are characteristic of humanity will spread. People in India will realize, as you rightly pointed out, that K-issue is not only an economic threat to India but also a moral issue as well. I also believe that they will realize that a country that claims to be a democracy must show respect in its core value. They will understand that humanity is above all. They will understand that violence can never be a solution.

I know that as a leader of the Kashmiri Awaam, you do not only represent those who belong from Kashmir and who are struggling to get the solution, rather, you belong to all who believe in finding a political solution for Kashmir to end the ‘series of violence’. You belong to common kashmiri families who want to live a life of peace and dignity and for whom violence is not a solution.

So, I as a citizen of India, promise you that I shall work for peace for Kashmir and at the same time, also request you to reach out to other people in Kashmir to find out methods of resistance without violence. By this letter, I also request all politicians and political parties to become sensitive towards the sufferings of people in Kashmir and towards their demands. Violence must end. The heavy military deployment of more than a decade has not and cannot bring any solution, it cannot bring peace within hearts and minds of millions who are living there. I request them to favor demilitarization, protection of human rights and ensure peace.

I again convey my sincere regards to you for reaching out to us and hope that this communication must continue. I also convey my sincere regards to all who are living in J&K and facing a difficult time with courage and hope that peace, justice and humanity will be restored.

Ravi Nitesh

(A citizen of India, a freelance writer and core member of Mission Bhartiyam, an organization that works for Peace & Human Rights. He is also the core member of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, a nationwide campaign with demand to repeal AFSPA from J&K and North East. He can be reached at [email protected])




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