Arguing About Kashmir

Even though Kashmir is lost to our community (the Kashmiri Hindu community), it is impossible for people of our generation not to get riled up when the issue of Kashmir comes up. A detailed post on Kashmir has been on my mind for a long time, but numerous resolutions for this blog’s upkeep have resulted in a naught (edit: it’s there now!). That has not kept me from waxing eloquent on the comment sections of other blogs, particularly if the bloggers or other commenters have perspectives contrary to my point of view. This post is an attempt to document some of the comments I made on those blogs.

Kashmir has for decades been a sensitive topic in the subcontinent, and what a person thinks about it depends entirely upon where that person comes from — from Indians who think Kashmir is an integral part of their country to a majority of Kashmiri Muslims who think separation from India is the only thing that can satisfy them. Anyway, a more detailed post on Kashmir is definitely in the offing on this blog, but for now, let me list the comments I have been making on other blogs.
Kafila seems to be a group blog, with almost all writers left leaning, and one blogger in particular Shivam Vij (not sure if that is his real name) seems to have taken it upon himself to support Kashmiris’ fight for self determination. Since Sopore is not far from where I was born, his post titled A conversation in Sopore and other stories caught my eye. In this post, the blogger compares Indian security forces treatment of Kashmiris to Jallianwalla Bagh massacre of Indian freedom fighters by the British. Anyway, here goes my first comment on the blog.

I do not have the time and energy to read all of your post and all of the comments, but as a Kashmiri myself, I want to warn against the attempt by you, and by Kashmiri separatists to equate their struggle with India’s freedom struggle against the British. Whatever Kashmiri Muslims (KMs) may think, and for whatever reason they may think so, Kashmir’s freedom struggle is not same as India’s freedom struggle. About the British, there was no ambiguity about their being foreign occupiers. India is not a foreign country that came to occupy Kashmir. KMs have no other justification for calling India occupiers, other than their need for nizam-e-mustafa. Kashmir is historically, religion-wise, geographically, very much a part of India. Kashmiri Muslims have no more right to ask for separation from India than the Muslims, e.g., of Hyderabad. Yes, their proximity to Pakistan makes their claim for being Pakistani more valid — and for that reason, I wish Kashmir had been separated out from Jammu and Ladakh in 1947 and given to Pakistan. But equating India with Britain is mischievous and evil.

My second comment:

From Zahid’s comment, you should realize how you are becoming a pawn in the hands of anti-India elements. Please go ahead, fulfill his wishes — you are a great writer. Don’t forget to brush aside the greatness of India’s unique secularism and greatness, inspite of well-wishers and dreamers like Zahid and so many ohters.
Somnath brings up a very good point. Also, don’t forget that the “independence” plank is another sham. Ask yourself, would Kashmiris have been fighting if Kashmir had gone to Pakistan in 1947?

Then, to commenter Ali’s comment, I responded:

1) The question is not “why not freedom”, the question is “why freedom”? If every ethnically and linguistically different people deserve a separate nation, then you will have ten nations within J&K. What makes you different from Punjab or Kerala? What makes you special? If it is Islam, then you belong to Pakistan, and I wish you had gone to Pakistan in the first place, but in 1947 fate played a different game and now it seems too late for all parties in the game. Still, you can keep fighting and get your wish of being ruled by the Taliban. Independence for Kashmir has no logic whatsoever. You have the choice of being part of a nation that trains the world’s engineers and doctors and one that trains the world’s terrorists.
2) Will peace prevail if Kashmir separates from India? I don’t know. Did peace prevail when India and Pakistan were divided on religious grounds? Who knows what another religious partition will do to the region?
3) Pandits were neither removed by Jagmohan nor were they traitors. They left because terrorist outfits posted notices in newspapers asking them to leave. They wanted no part of your nizam-e-mustafa. They did not want to live in a Talibanized atmosphere which was being created there in 1989-90. They were being denied opportunities even when things were peaceful. If living in Kashmir meant saying Pakistan zindabad, we were better off without Kashmir. We were not traitors to our nation. Only your definition of nation was different from ours. If the number of Hindus killed was less it was because their number was less in the first place, and also because they did not take to the streets fighting their own country. To your accusation of calling us complainers, I’d say that you guys are bigger cry-babies getting all economic advantages from India and then abusing India.
4) I condemn all human rights abuses that occur in Kashmir or elsewhere. When such incidents are perpetrated by government forces, it is even worse. However, it is the separatist movement that makes the Indian forces seem like they are in enemy territory, and the world’s best trained forces commit such mistakes in such an environment. If the separatist movement ends, they will have no business being there. Until then, it is war and unfortunately everyone suffers in a war.
5) India does not claim to be the largest democracy in the world. It is one. And no democratic country in its right mind starts giving all of its regions “rights to self-determination”.

Comment 4:

You could very well have directed me to your site for these half truths.
(1) Kashmir not being historically part of India is a figment of your imagination and this opinion is not shared by all people of the state.
(2) > india trains the world’s doctors and engineers…good made my!!..
Laugh all you want, but look at a hospital or a corporation in any developed country. A disproportionate number of people are trained in India. Look at a terrorist plot in the same country. A disproportionate number of people are trained in Pakistan. The choice is yours, and so are the consequences. All the problems you are talking about come from a Pakistani media perspective, who keep wishing away India’s achievements. Yes, India has problems, but its progress and even survival in spite of those problems is commendable. You choose to look at only negatives, and close your eyes to the positives. In which other country can you see minorities such as Sikhs as PMs, Muslims as presidents (multiple times), Dalits as CMs or presidents, Christians as CMs and defence ministers and party presidents? From film industry to corporate boardroom to the underworld, Muslims are everywhere. So are Sikhs and other minorities. In riots, which are unfortunate events, Muslims are so many times not only the instigators, but active participants. That is the nature of the beast. Blaming just one side helps nobody.
This doesn’t mean there are no problems. Even most advanced countries have problems, but that doesn’t mean you can call India a demoncracy. There are some positives with Indian democracy which even most advanced countries cannot dream of.
All the social problems that India has, are shared by Pakistan and the whole South Asian region. You cannot disown them. Calling India poor will not make Kashmir or Pakistan rich or advanced countries. Separating from India is not going to improve anything for Kashmir. Go look at what your guys are doing to Shias, Ahmadiyas and other people believing in Sufism, not to speak of minorities like Hindus and Sikhs. On the other hand, the growth and progress that India is making are India’s alone.
In Kashmiri we have a phrase called “khyen manz wokus”, which is what you people are suffering from. I hope you know what that means. If you start a war unto “death or victory” then don’t complain about the problems that come with it.
But then, let protests live on, let blogs such as this, and yours, live on, because openness to dissent makes us strong. If that means a free Kashmir one day, let it be. To me, it looks like a pipe dream.
Yunan-o-misr-o-roma sab mit gaye jahan se
Ab tak magar hai baki namo-nishan hamara
–sare jahan se achha… (Allama Iqbal)

Comment 5:

Slurs like “snakechermers” or “paki” used by Westerners apply to all South Asians, not just to Indians. Calling Indians snakecharmers or poor does not make you a gora sahib. These names will apply to you even too even if you don’t belong to India.

I can not imagine this has become a 1500 word post, just after I pasted 5 comments from other websites. For now, I am stopping here, and will continue in another post.