Kashmir needs no hug but freedom
Every year since 1947 the Indian people have been subjected to a Prime Minister’s speech on 15 August from the podium atop the Red Fort in Delhi. Religiously the common people listened to the speech each year to find for themselves the answers to the burning problems in their lives, i.e. the problem of bread and lentils, the problem of unemployment, the problem of poor irrigation and non-existence of land reforms, the problem of lack of universal healthcare, the problem of education and the problem of existence in a pitiful condition. Each year their hopes and aspirations were mercilessly turned down as the subsequent governments blabbered their sham achievements and patted their own backs using the Prime Minister’s speech. When Narendra Modi delivered the Independence Day speech on the 70th anniversary of Indian independence, he didn’t deviate from the precedence set by his predecessors and used the podium to sell his own achievements, gassed by fabricated information. Narendra Modi this year spoke about a solution to the Kashmir issue and it became a hot topic in the Indian press.
For the longstanding Kashmir issue, where the common people are struggling, often defying death, to achieve “Azadi” or independence from Indian domination, Narendra Modi offered a lollypop. He said that the problem of Kashmir cannot be solved through “abuses or bullets, but by embracing” the Kashmiri people. So far it seems a replica of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s hollow promises of “Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat” – a promise that never saw the light of the day, especially since the Machil encounter of 2010, when three innocent Kashmiri men, lured by the military, were killed in the LoC to be claimed as trophies of hunt for a certain military commander, who was an upper-caste Hindu from a feudal family in North India and wanted a promotion and few more gallantry medals to decorate the showcase back home.
The situation in Kashmir has worsened since 2010, as the people of the valley understood that the Indian ruling classes and the dominant upper-caste Hindus will not empathise with their demand for a complete freedom. They resorted to a do-or-die struggle since 2010, with a brief lull in between and resumed back to the struggle from summer 2016. As India happens to be a paradise for big foreign corporations, banks and oligarchy, as the market is lucrative and there is an abundance of natural resources, made available to the corporate houses by the government at next to free-of-cost rates, and there is a huge cache of cheap labour power at the service of international monopoly and finance capital, thus there is no outcry on the international arena over the gross violations of human rights in Kashmir, the killing of Kashmiri youth by the Indian forces with impunity, the sexual violence meted out against the women of the valley by the armed forces of India, etc.
Now the question that arises after the speech delivered by Narendra Modi on 15 August 2017 is, whether the people of Kashmir, the overwhelming majority who are seeking independence from India and are not willing to settle for anything less, would agree to be embraced by the very Indian government, ruling classes and the upper-caste xenophobic mob, who were until yesterday calling them names and were swearing to eliminate their identity, the identity of being fiercely Kashmiri and nothing else, from the world with brute force? Can the people of Kashmir let themselves be embraced by those who hate them, calls them Pakistani agents or ISIS Jihadis? Can the people of Kashmir let themselves be embraced and loved by those who cheered for the military whenever they killed the young daughters and sons of Kashmir? Can the Kashmiri people let themselves be embraced in a hug, which is going to be the hug by its occupier and a hug that will be bone-crushing one, specifically designed to keep them caged within those arms of the occupier?
No one asked the people of Kashmir; at the end of the day, their will and their expectations never mattered. The corporate media was busy oohing the BJP and Narendra Modi, the sycophants amplified their praises for Modi, no one bothered to reach out to the Kashmiri people to understand their aspirations, like no one, ever bothered to reach the overwhelming majority of the Indian people, the poor and the downtrodden masses who remained deprived of the same “development” saga which happens to be the favourite drumbeat of successive regimes led by different parties.
The people of Kashmir knows for well that they will either be fooled for another few years by the Modi government, which is now facing serious challenges in meeting the military expenditures to contain the rising high tides of mass discontent in Kashmir, often resulting into large-scale demonstrations and protest marches by the people on the streets of the valley. Narendra Modi and the Hindutva regime wants to buy time to strengthen its military capabilities in the valley, especially at a time when the Donald Trump administration is pressuring New Delhi to launch a limited attack on China. The Modi government won’t be able to tackle two fronts, especially a rebellion by the people of Kashmir at the high-time with border conflict with China.
It needs peace in Kashmir and it will try repeatedly, using its compradors and collaborators in Kashmir to bring a stalemate in the ground situation and to contain the eruption of mass rebellion. The people know that the Indian occupation and the Indian Hindutva regime will continue to treat them as second-class, colonised and enslaved people. The recent arrest of three Kashmiri students in Hyderabad, few days after Narendra Modi’s declaration of adopting and “embracing” strategy for Kashmiris, highlights the hard-hitting reality once again, Kashmiri people are unwelcomed, only their land and resource is valued by India and its ruling clique.
Despite the tall talks in the Indian corporate-controlled mainstream media and social media over the “embracing” strategy of the Modi government regarding Kashmir, the very strategy is considered as another Ponzi scheme by the people of the valley because of one prominent reason, the Indian government is not promising them an iota of their long-standing demand for freedom or the process of seceding from the Indian domination, rather it’s again making official that the Indian ruling classes will “embrace”, i.e. lock the Kashmiri people by flexing muscles and not let them free themselves from the tyranny that is shaping the future of the generations of oppressed people in Kashmir.
Such an embrace of enslavement cannot be acceptable to the people of Kashmir and the Modi government knows that. But to bring a lull in the Kashmiri independence struggle, in order to militarily engage with China, as per the order of the Trump regime, is a matter of top priority for the government of India. To build up a mass opinion in favour of a war against China, the corporate media has been engaged in xenophobic campaigns regarding the purported threat from China since 1998. The stories of purported Chinese incursion into Indian territories often exaggerated and without any evidence, are planted in different media portals since a long time to hype ultra-chauvinism among the upper-caste Hindus of India. In the case of a war with China, it will be essential for India to maintain peace in the Western and North Western fronts, as Pakistan is a close ally of the Chinese since ages. The unrest for independence in Kashmir will require a larger military deployment and it will impact India’s war capabilities at the Chinese front.
In case of a war not materialising with China very soon, the Modi government will dump the proposal of embracing the Kashmiri people and return back to its venom spitting campaigns against the people of the valley and play the overused Kashmiri Pandit card. The Modi government will then again intensify its military campaigns to crack down the peaceful demonstrations by the Kashmiri people and kill the youth en masse on the streets of the valley. By manipulating the data on the number of people killed, maimed, abducted, number of women and children raped by the military of the Modi government, the regime will try to portray the Kashmir issue as a mere ‘law and order’ problem and also blame terrorism, so that it can get unconditional support from the West and Israel in carrying out the systematic massacre in Kashmir.
No US-led Western lobby will impose trade and other sanctions over the Indian ruling classes for the gross violation of human rights in the valley, which happens to have the highest concentration of military force in the world, which aims to curb growing demand for freedom and self-determination among the people of Kashmir. The amount of blood that drains down the streets of Kashmir can have no equivalence anywhere in the world, and the most worrisome case in the Kashmir problem is the successful maneuvering of facts and toying with the Islamophobic sentiments of the Hindu majority of India, that the ruling classes of India, their lackey mainstream corporate media and the government has isolated the people’s struggle for independence in Kashmir from the Indian people by showcasing it as a handiwork of Pakistan.
By appealing to xenophobia and by inciting jingoism among the politically backward bulwark of the Indian people over the issue of Kashmir, the Indian ruling classes ensured that it can turn the topic of Kashmir’s independence into a taboo subject and forbid the people from joining the fray for the liberation of Kashmir. The identity of the people of Kashmir, who are mostly Muslims, helped the Indian ruling classes to demonise them through their media outlets, cinema and other propaganda tools before the Indian people. An image of a fundamentalist, Taliban-inspired and Pakistan controlled government taking control over Kashmir should the people of Kashmir gets their chance to take control of the region is what the Indian mainstream corporate-controlled media has imbibed among the people of India, especially the urban, upper-caste people who are described as the “people” by the Indian government and the corporate media.
It’s only the people of Kashmir and their popular struggle for democracy and freedom that can thwart these notorious and cunning proposals like Narendra Modi’s “embrace” Kashmir agenda, which aims at prolonging the enslavement of the people of Kashmir using the lollypops of love and empathy as baits. The people of Kashmir had enough bad experiences with such doles and baits, used by the government of India to lure them deeper into the mire of enslavement. They are now aware that it’s only their struggle, just and popular, that can bring them closer to their goals and end the military domination of the valley and its people by the Indian ruling classes. The asserting of the Kashmiri nationalism by the people of the valley and their attempt to throw away the shackles of colonial rule certainly raise hopes about the future of the valley, which will embrace freedom and democracy rather than the Hindutva fascist tyrannical rule to survive and progress.
Bashir Dar writes extensively on Kashmir. Bashir Dar is the Kashmiri storyteller whose work is regularly published to add a Kashmiri perspective to the stories.