Even if after 63 years of Independence of India and almost the same amount of time being spent by Kashmiris’ with India if people still ask the question if J& K is a part of India then it disturbs me.
Kashmir for years has been an issue over which the rest of India has only one opinion; it is a part of India, though certain groups in Kashmir valley hold a different view. But the question is, why? Why do these people have a different view?
Truly speaking, I have never been to the valley despite going up to Jammu thrice in the past five years but I got a chance to study with a few Kashmiri migrants and spend some time with a handful of them. In that time in Jammu and the time I spent with those acquaintances of mine I found out that the average Kashmiri is just that, average, all s/he wants is food to eat, a house to live and a bit of peace.
It is the peace factor that seems to be missing in their life. The previous generation of Kashmir had a sentiment associated with POK and even Pakistan as their relatives and many of people whom they had known during their childhood and youth were on the other side of the line of control. They always had that, ‘My brother lives there’ feeling in their heart, then there was the generation which can most aptly be called ‘The children of midnight’, people born around the period of Independence of India. They did not have that strong bonding with the other side as the generation before them but still it was there as they grew up listening to the stories about how unified Kashmir was like. The new generation, which in the metro’s called itself as the X-generation became the V-generation in Kashmir, where V without any guesses stands for violence, the generation that grew up seeing continuous violence since 1989 till now.
That violence brought the Army to the state and even after more than twenty years majority of Kashmir looks like a big cantonment area. It is this cantonment area look that the people of Kashmir want to get rid of. You would have heard very few young educated Kashmiri’s saying that they want to get merged with Pakistan; they know that they have no future with an almost failed state, a state where the ex-presidents and prime-ministers live in exile or are assassinated in full public view. They demand for withdrawal of troops and the ones who are a bit more frustrated with the Indian set up demand for Azad Kashmir but they forget to notice the state in which the narrow strip of land known as Azad Kashmir right now is, failing to provide even the most basic necessities to its people. More over the people of POK are being tossed around like ping-pong balls with some part of POK being given to China as a gift by Pakistan government and some parts harboring militant camps. Just imagine the life of people living in these areas.
People like Ahmed Shah Geelani and Arundhati Roy (I still fail to understand why people give her so much importance, most of what she talks and writes is just crap and attention seeking material) are not concerned with the future of Kashmir and its people, Mr. Geelani has a political agenda and Ms. Rai just has a knack of sticking her leg into any damn problem which attracts media attention, till some time ago it was the Maoists and now it’s Kashmir. If Ms. Rai was so keen on solving the Maoists problem she should have gone forward and accepted Maoists request of becoming the mediator, talked them out of violence, killing innocent people and destroying government property.
The people of J& K need to realize that India and Indians consider them a part of their own, even giving them special status and quotas, something which a country like Pakistan, where people who shifted there 60 years back are still called ‘Muhajirs’ (The ones who shifted) cannot give them. Pakistan has never supported Kashmir’s independence, it has always been in favor of Kashmir becoming a part of Pakistan and even if somehow Kashmir manages to become a free state (though there’s a very rare chance of that ever happening) then also Pakistan will leave no stone unturned to destabilize it and merge it into itself.
The need of the hour is for the people of Kashmir to recognize the fact that without their co-operation the government cannot put an end to insurgency and militancy and if that doesn’t end then the Army will also not be removed. The government should also think of ways to minimize impact of military on normal lives.
The time is ripe for Indian government, the people of J&K and the Pakistan government to sit down and sort the matter out. There will be people who will object to Pak being a part of these discussions but they fail to understand that the Kashmir problem would not have existed in the first place had Pak not been laying its claim on J&K. In all, it’s time to stop talking and start doing things.