Kashmir Problem re-explained: For liberal dummies
No offence meant. By dummies I mean You, if you are also one of those part-time Kashmir experts, who parrot clueless inanities like “end alienation of Kashmiris, Kashmir is on the edge today due to…, Govt should talk to them…, Burhan Wani turned radical because youth there don’t get right opportunities…, Poverty and Unemployment is the main reason…, Army presence has alienated them…, Reach out…, Healing touch…, AFSPA is the actual root-cause…, Oh! just demilitarise Kashmir…, confidence building measures…, Economic package…”
The recent speech of Farooq Abdullah, wherein he called ‘Hurriyat to lead the tehreek’ and openly declared his support, has popped up yet another bunch of social media K-experts. “Oh, India lost touch with the democrats too in Kashmir mainstream?”
Anyone who has watched five Barkha Dutt tear-jerks, four Arnab decibel-quakes, has munched popcorn through “Haider”, read five tweets from Rajdeep/Sagarika and a few OpEds from bleeding-heart liberal editors, self qualifies in India as a liberal Kashmir expert. Who needs facts?
To me, sometimes they provide good comic relief. But if you really care to understand, just note few basic blunt facts.
Kashmir problem is NOT about economics, opportunities.
Indeed, Kashmir problem is neither about economics, opportunities nor about alienation, education, politics, elections, corruption, incidents of xyz shootout (those are just events) or any persecution/human rights violations, AFSPA etc. It never was. This is a canard Abdullah’s milked for decades to get truckloads of Muslims in name of “Kashmir problem”. If these were the actual problems, Jammu and Ladakh have far more reason to outrage. Kashmir valley is among the most well-funded areas.
Just mull over this. Kashmir has been under the death knell of Jihadi terror for 27+ years now. Baring last few years, tourism industry has been dead for few decades. Lack of tourism also directly impacts many other the local industries like handicrafts. But, despite close to three decades of impasse on main economic engines of Kashmir, have you heard of any death because of starvation or poverty in Kashmir?
Every year mercury dips below zero for months. Have you ever heard of any cold wave deaths? (whereas starvation and cold-wave death are regular news from other parts of India). If economics and opportunities were the root-cause, states like Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand should have separated long ago.
Kashmir does not need any economic support from outside. Every square inch is a tourist resort waiting to be monetised. Every Kashmiri could live lavishly off tourism alone and even provide employment to million others, if peace ever got a chance.
Neither is it about 1947 nor the old ‘self-determination’ slogan anymore.
If it was tribal kabaili raiders would have been welcomed with open arms in Kashmir in 1947. And that story died with Sheikh-accord in 70’s. Pakistan had lost then itself, especially after a knock-out blow of 1971. Nor, is it about AFSPA, shootouts, army bunkers, etc. Those are mere events, not the root-cause. Lakhs used to visit Kashmir till late 1980s! Ask anyone around you who visited Kashmir before 1990. Did they see any bunkers then? Gun -totting armymen? Frisking? They would have seen none of those! Nor would they have seen any hordes of burqa clad women or bearded men either. Nor any kids pelting stones in Lal-chowk. Cinema halls thrived. Fashion was the in- thing. Schools were omnipresent and functioning well. There was no Army around, no curfews, no AFSPA. Army, AFSPA, bunkers etc were a result of certain events, not the root-cause.
Yes, there was a soft corner for Pakistan and Islamic world always.
A rather confused relation actually. When Gen Zia-ul-Haq hanged Z.A. Bhutto, Muslims in Kashmir mourned Bhutto with their typical chest-beating processions for weeks. They abused Zia in the choicest slogans. Gen Zia was called “Zia-kone” (the one-eyed Zia)! Later, the same people mourned Zia too, when he died in a crash; again with same chest beating.
Of course, there was frequent bullying of minuscule minority, sometimes as a celebratory stone pelting if Pakistan won a match; at other times to vent anger, say if US did something anti-Islamic in Iran. Kashmiri Pandits silently bore the music. Surely no different from what the diminishing majority today experiences in Malda or Malabar. And Pandits were a mere 2-3 % minority.
But, soft-corner for Pakistan and minority bashing apart, no one believed separation or self-determination seriously anymore. A common adage in Kashmir used to be. “Soriy wandhay Hindustanas, dil chumm Pakistanas kunn”. (I can do anything for India, but heart beats for Pakistan)
What happened in 1989-90?
What you see now – is a different movement all together. Google about Gen Zia and his Operation Topac/ Topaz/ Tupac, during 1980s. Having failed on political line for 30+ years, Gen Zia smartly used religion card far-more aggressively to capitalise on those heart beats.
Co-relate with what was happening in parallel in Afghani & Irani societies and the wars there. You may have seen the often circulated pictures of free women in Iran/Afghan of 1960’s vs now. The same change happened in Kashmir too, 1980s vs now. The same theme of religious fanaticism.
Kashmir was first flooded by Deobandi “Allah-Wale” Maulvis in late 1980s, spreading wahabism. In parallel, ISI infiltrated and trained on arms. Punjab background and Afghan supply was a well-timed coincidence. A rigged election helped trigger it further. Massive brainwashing on Pan-Islamism, a dream of an Islamic Ummah drilled in every soul, Jihad the slogan, religion the only principle. The narrative changed.
What you see in Kashmir since 1990’s is a purely Islamic war, playing out in a now 100% Islamic area. And completely mirrors various Islamic Jihad’s across the world today. Accession of 1947, Art370, etc are now only excuses to continue the agenda. Everywhere, Iraq, Syria, ISIS, Turkey, Palestine, Africa, Europe to Kashmir, you see some local context/excuse used. Anti-semitism, anti-US, euro-refugees… to anti-India. But, the thread remains the same. A religious ideology that dictates, “We are different. We are right. Only we are right”. And if you still don’t understand this simple thing, I was right with the word in the title.
It’s a simple religious war, Stupid!
Heck! Even a terrorist like Hafiz Sayed has the honesty to speak openly about it. Syed Salahuddin Says Kashmir Issue Was Always About Islam, Not ‘Azaadi’ Hurriyat grand-nut Geelani has been saying for ages… that Kashmir is an Islamic state.
So have the so-called ‘democrats’ like Abdullah’s and Mufti-family too. These political families have ensured for last seven decades that the democratic political power & thereby control of the state remains only with Kashmiri Sunnis.
No one from any other community is ever allowed to get even close. No Dogra, Ladakhi, Gujjar, Bakarwal, Sikh, Shia, Poonchi or Pandit can ever dream of being the CM. In 2005, when the time came for rotation of Chief-Minister-ship from PDP to Congress in the then PDP-Cong coalition, Congress had to para drop Ghulam Nabi Azab from Delhi, a man who had never been in the state politics; instead of elevating the incumbent Deputy CM, Mangat Ram Sharma. Maharashtra, Kerala, Bihar, any state in India can have a CM of any religion. But not J&K.
The Islamic narrative behind Kashmir problem has as clear as Chasm-e-Shahi waters to everyone on ground. It is reiterated in the Friday congregations by Maulvi Umar. It is reminded every time Geelani issues his hartal calendars, specifying details of religious gatherings and prayers. It was announced loud-and-clear when all of them – separatists and democrats, rose in unison and blockaded a mere 800-kanal space for Amarnath Yatra.
Unfortunately, it is mostly Indian liberals – who are still deceiving themselves and others about it. Or just lack guts to be honest.
Till we remain stuck in our politically correct straight-jacket of “Oh! we have to be secular” – and refuse to acknowledge the fact of Pan-Islamist ideology war being at play here… we will keep mouthing stupidities like “alienation, mainstream, economic, deprivation, AFSPA” etc to no end, and keep making a fool of ourselves.
A Soul in Exile. A Kashmiri Pandit Refugee in India.
Tech wage slave in Bangalore. News freak in general.