Don’t tell me it will be alright anytime soon. The cycle of suffering will prolong
IMAGES are more powerful than words, and the power of imagery has been realized long ago by people and that is why it has become a routine in the modern world where powerful images confront us on a daily basis. The recent killing of a 65 year old gentleman in Sopore has sent shock waves around the world merely because it involved a 3 year old boy, his grandson, whose reaction was filmed during the death of his much-dear-grandfather. The heart-wrenching and powerful images have captured the story of misery, helplessness, and routine traumatic experiences that Kashmiri face on a daily basis. These painful images have circulated, and reached the farthest corners of the world but one wonders, if this will change anything on ground.
Historically, the struggle of Kashmiri people is very old, and the recent wave of atrocities were born during 1947–48 war, which was the moment when Kashmir became a “disputed part” of India and Pakistan. Since then Kashmir has become a battleground for three competing nationalisms: Indian, Pakistani and the aspirant Kashmiri nationalism. The Indian official position has been that Kashmir is an integral part and any opposition, armed or otherwise, against the Indian rule is a handiwork of Pakistan. Pakistan, on the other hand, regards Kashmir as its “jugular vein” and holds that India has occupied Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir by military might which is against the underlying logic of partition. Kashmiris think that they have historically been deprived of agency over their own political dispensation by two feuding nations, India and Pakistan.
The present crisis is an outcome of more than seven decades of injustice that has been imposed on Kashmiri people, just, because they want to decide their own destiny, which is a fundamental right of every citizen of this planet. Pakistan has a role but since it is administered by India therefore the onus is more on India. And with Modi, as the Prime Minister of India, the rate and speed of erosion of democratic India has dramatically increased, which has greatly impacted Kashmir, and Indian Muslims in particular.
The abrogation of Article 370, which was the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s instrument of accession to the Indian union, has rendered India as a mere colonizer. The article, which was legally accepted by the Indian Constitution and implemented in 1949, guaranteed a separate statehood for Jammu and Kashmir: separate flag, state constitution, jurisdiction except finance, defence, foreign affairs plus communications. It also denied property rights, and Kashmir citizenship to outsiders, which was to secure a separate identity for Jammu and Kashmir region. Therefore, seeking their right to self-determination, Kashmiris have tried every possible agency for the past 90 years; ballots, talks, arms, and stones. This struggle for freedom has claimed around one lakh lives, thousands of children have been orphaned, and property worth billions of dollars gutted in anti-militancy operations by the Indian security forces. The conflict has taken a vicious turn since July 2016 after the popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani was killed by Indian Army. Everyday news of death, torture, injuries, cordons, young boys joining militant groups comes from the Kashmir.
Don’t tell me that it will be alright in Kashmir. The cycle of pain will prolong. And how I wish not so soon. Let the fresh wounds of pain subside a little, and we get some courage to witness more imagery of death, destruction, and lifelessness of parents, children, etc., because we know it ought to happen. That face of our three year old child crying over the body of his grandfather ought to give us sleepless nights but will it haunt Indian people. How is it possible that a wailing child in a conflict zone cannot penetrate your heart and tear it apart? When humanity dies: the death of feeling is the sign of it.
If the world really desires end of the miseries of people in various parts of the world, say in Kashmir, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen etc, then we have to work on a solution, and achieve it. The solution to any problem in the world ought to be easy, but it needs sincere people with absolutely no trace of selfishness and ego but full of love, empathy, peace and justice. For example the problem of Kashmir is very easy to fix but they have made it extremely complicated, and articulated it to the world in a language that is full of deception, and lies. Only people who are sincere, and work for justice will solve Kashmir, and those people are not in India, at least not in current India. Therefore, the present India lacks leadership that could resolve Kashmir on a discussion table. So, the coming days may be more painful than what we have seen over the decades, and this only because of selfishness to serve self rather than humanity.
The writer is Assistant Professor in Structural Geology, Department of Geosciences at Universiti Brunei Darussalam