What’s New Delhi’s National Interest

Kashmir has become a battlefield of bullets, pallets, guns and grenades. Apart from that what differentiates Kashmir from the rest of Indian states is the diversity of political beliefs among its inhabitants and its inimitable social and political arrangement. There are Pakistan obsessed lots, there are people who prefer India over Pakistan, there are people who aspire for an independent Kashmir and there are people who don’t give a damn about any of these things. Some people view Kashmir conflict in terms of Islamic jihad or terrorism (in terms of their understanding)  while others see it from the prism of struggle for freedom and another lot sees themselves trapped in a battle that makes no sense to them.

Living amidst such a situation people here seem to have developed an exceptionally unique quality of accepting or atleast tolerating any heights of nonsense with the same intensity with which they accept or tolerate anything that marks the highest sense for them. The day to day bloodbath that Kashmir has been witnessing from the last three and a half decades has exposed Kashmiris to the highest levels of pain, agony and despondency. May it be a mother loosing his young kid, a son shouldering his father’s coffin, a sister or brother receiving his/her brother’s or sister’s bullet or pallet ridden body, all this has made them experience the pain in its real sense. To my understanding Kashmiries are doubtlessly among the most poignant lot living on this planet who don’t only feel the pain inside their own body or their troubled fellow Kashmiries but they have been displaying their compassion of same intensity for a troubled human from any other tribe.

Instances where Kashmiris have even helped or rescued Indian security forces—whom, most of them envisage in terms of the occupation forces— in situations of any natural disaster or road accident do not need a mention here. While I have seen many of them weeping over the death of any foreign (Pakistani or Afghani) militants, I have also seen most of them mourning over the death of Indian security personnel with the same intensity. It is another case that the mourning in the first case is a bit more expressible than the later given the kind of dominant political sentiment that prevails on the ground in Kashmir. They might hate India or love Pakistan or vice versa, however they treat people of both sides–visiting them as guests or as tourists–with an equivalent intensity of affection. They cry for people suffering in Burma and they also mourn the victims of a terrorist attack that happens in the Mexico or Manchester. So, who are these people who are enjoying their brutal adventures with their guns and grenades in the name of Kashmir’s freedom or India’s national interest? Do these groups represent the actual aspirations of Kashmiri folks or for that matter do they represent the real ambitions of the Indian state or Pakistan, are two important questions that every Kashmiri needs to run his brains upon.  To me all such lots clamming to be fighting for the real aspirations of Kashmiri folks or for their Indian or Pakistani obsessions are the real culprits.

Over the last few months we have lost over two dozens of precious human lives and the situation seems to be worsening.  Once again Shopian incident has set Kashmir on boil. People are mourning, educational institutions and markets closed and roads deserted. Now the question is how long is all of this going to continue? For all those who think such incidents are bringing Kashmir Azadi or resolving Kashmir issue for India, are surely living in lalaland. Neither will these acts mute the voices of Kashmiris asking for an everlasting solution to Kashmir, nor will the process bring Kashmir Azadi. In such a situation where guns and bullets or strikes and crackdowns have failed to solve the issue, dialogue is the only alternative that every stakeholder of Kashmir issue seems to be left with.

Kashmir is a political issue and needs political approaches and initiatives from all stakeholders. Sometime back when CM Mehbooba Mufti said that talks were the only solution to Kashmir, it was shocking, rather discouraging, to watch Indian news channels cursing her for her statement. Some anchors and panelists even went to the heights of arguing that the whole battle was about Kashmiri militants, Kashmiri cops and Kashmiri civilians fighting each other in Kashmir as if the whole curse lied in Kashmir or being a Kashmiri it looks like Indian news anchors and their ring masters enjoy the blood pooling out of Kashmir and wish to see more of it by pushing India and Pakistan into a deadly war. What they don’t understand is that if there is war it will devour all, not Kashmiris alone.

Another serious issue that has come up is the human-shield strategy of Indian armed forces where army uses innocent Kashmirs as shields to protect themselves in their operations.  Military has its own significance in any situation of insurgency however its presence and its actions should not escalate the situation of violence.  It should rather diminish the space for any further violence. While Indian armed forces have always claimed to be one of the most disciplined armies of the world, Kashmir has witnessed an exactly opposite face of Indian army on ground. Mushtaq Ahmed Thokar became the latest victim of this cowardly act of armed forces in the recent Shopian incident and unfortunately lost his life. While the security forces might justify their actions in the recent Shopian civilian killing case or all such cases in the name of ‘law and order’ or ‘national interest’ however, they can hardly change the reality. In this situation, it becomes imperative for Delhi to rethink its counter insurgency policy in Kashmir for the fact that their current tactics are taking a heavy toll on civilian population and left over credibility of Indian State in Kashmir.

Centre also needs to come clear on the matter of OGW’s. You can’t kill any random Kashmiri caught in the crossfire and claim to have killed an OGW of some definition unknown to the masses. In a situation where law provides an equal opportunity to even a murderer to present his side of the story, why can’t a person labeled as an OGW get the same opportunity to prove his/her stand? You cannot kill civilians randomly and at the same time claim to be doing it for peace of Kashmir.  While PDP seems to be doing its bit for Kashmir, it is high time for BJP at the Centre and as an alliance partner to clear its stand on its intentions in the state. You seem to be sympathizing with the poor victims of violence on one side but continue patting the shoulders of those involved in the brutal killings of civilians on the other! Countries are governed by rule of law and laws are same for everyone irrespective of the tribe or authority he/she represents in the society.

Which law or book says that the security personnel cannot commit mistakes? And if so why can’t be an army officer punished for his wrong doings in the same way a common citizen is? Such a biased attitude in the name of national interest has brought the situation to this passé. If the matter is not given a serious consideration at the right time, we might see more civilians labeled as OGW’s or stonepelters or as human-shields which in turn may help a political party in power to garner extra votes but will not be in India’s national interest.

People of Kashmir have seen enough of it and are no longer ready to accept any kind of justifications put forth by the people involved in this game of blood and gore. Neither can Kashmir’s sentiment for liberty justify such acts nor can Indian nationalism do so. Killing people in Kashmir won’t bring New Delhi out of Kashmir quagmire but killing its ego over Kashmir can do wonders.  Let’s make it a battle of ideas and not a battle of bullets. Dialogue will always remain a better option than war. It’s high time for every stakeholder of Kashmir issue to grow-up and act wisely.





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