Don’t let the seditious voices grow loud in Kashmir. I think we only like to highlight voices like those of Ms. Arundhati Roy as they are more inflammatory than anything else. She is a part of the school of thought which believes in opposing everything that stands the way it is. She might not have realised the implications of such a statement in a fragile environment like Kashmir. While talking about Azadi, she conveniently forgot people in the Ladakh Valley and Jammu.
What are the grounds on which she declares that we must allow secession from India? I think the stone pelting was reason enough for her. As a question, how many secessionist movements are on in India? I don’t have a count; we at present have movements in Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur among those I can state. Besides them, violence is rampant in Naxal states, who claim like others that their cause is right.
Violence in the valley was promoted in the 1980s before which there was no such CI force like RR in the valley, but looking at the conditions, it was important to take tough military action against the aggressors. The army has sacrificed a lot in the valley, but human rights groups tend to find them the only evil. The army in its formative years in Kashmir has committed some grave crimes in Kashmir, for which the people have been tried and punished. It is just that the Army doesn’t make it as public, owing to public outcry. This, however, doesn’t undermine the excellent work by the Army in controlling insurgency in the state. People tend to point fingers of protesters dying, but in a place like Kashmir, the soldier is as scared as anybody else of his life not being safe in such an atmosphere. So why should the protesters be allowed near pickets to throw stones at them?
Critics tend to call us an oppressive state; I beg to differ. The fact is we are so free that we can allow seditious comments like the ones by Ms. Roy to go unchallenged. I am not very sure if many other countries would not consider such statements welcoming to interests of the state. When was the last time we heard a British national talking so lightly about the Irish Freedom the way we did in as much blatant words. A country is bound to protect its territorial integrity and we should do so. If one feels we are oppressive, one must have a look at the election process in Azad Kashmir, which requires a candidate to sign a clause owing their allegiance to Pakistan. This they do reluctantly, else their papers stand cancelled under Act 1974 election act. Baltistan and Gilgit have been effectively denied any legal status and are ruled by the Federal government. Now a blind man would say that we are a little freer than them.
For those who feel India has duped Kashmir into believing that a Plebiscite would have happened, the facts are rather clear. There were obligations on the half of Pakistan to fulfil some basic requirements before a plebiscite. Nehru had supported the plebiscite all along on the compromise that Pakistan withdraw its forces, which it never did. Pakistan also wanted assurance from the Muslim leaders who visited Lahore that Pakistan would be favoured. When the leaders did not give an affirmative answer, Pakistan was unsure and a plebiscite never happened. It was a choice given to Kashmir whether they wanted the Indian soldiers to come in and fight the raiders or not. So the Kashmiri ruler decided to sign the instrument of accession in India’s favour, which was ratified by Sheikh Abdullah the most prominent Muslim leader of the state. There is no question of us having duped them.
As on today it is much more complex a problem than it was and plebiscite should be ruled out. The atmosphere has been engineered to be against India, and we have much to lose if we give Kashmir up. Besides this if a plebiscite is held in its current form even if people from Ladakh and Jammu decide against it and the overall numbers are for Independence or Pakistan, it would be unfair to them. Besides, today a Kashmiri who has no grouse against India has no voice amidst the loudness of others. If people feel that Pakistani Kashmir is really free, and Indians are state sponsored terrorists, the people should be given a choice to live in Azad Kashmir (POK). We can talk about many things about Kashmir like greater regional autonomy. We can also talk about open borders, but anything should happen within the purview of the Indian state. By saying we have done nothing, people are being unfair to India. We have been successful in handling such situations in the past in Tamil Nadu, North East India and Punjab. I see no reason that we can’t replicate our success in the beautiful valley. Let’s just be a little more patient.
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