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HUES OF KASHMIR

Kashmir for long has been a bone of contention between the two neighbouring countries. Both the
countries economic, social, intellectual and natural inclination towards this piece of land has made it
the most vulnerable place in the region and the world.

Kashmiris have been victims and are being stereotyped in many forms; from being aloofed as a beef
eating society; to being tagged as criminals at the very first instance. My association with Kashmiris
has been a rather personal one, being in one of those private elite schools where parents desire to
send their wards, many of my friends were Kashmiri Pundits, later when I was sent to the boarding
school I came face to face with Kashmiri Muslims and their bizarre and horrifying experiences. I got
both sided view on this subject and combined with more knowledge on Kashmir I realized that
politics, opportunism and ego destroyed this heaven on earth.

Kashmir came to India in 1947 when Maharajah Hari Singh acceded to the Indian Union. Kashmir
was a Muslim dominated area and being ruled by a Hindu ruler did not really spell well for local
population. Mostly illiterate laboring under poverty and very little economic sources they were
governed like dumb cattle’s. Eminent visionaries like Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Badruddin Tyabji and
others with cultural awakening among Muslims went out to capture their imagination and seek what
was right for their community and people. Amongst them was Sheikh Abdullah who in coming times
was to be called Sher-I-Kashmir.

Kashmir had enjoyed distinct treatment ever since its troubled accession to India in1947:
constitutionally, the state was guaranteed a standing not available to any other state in the Indian
Union. Its politics had long been dominated by Nehru’s friend-turned-sparring partner, Sheikh
Abdullah with whom Mrs. Gandhi had made a deal, in the mid 1970’s that seemed to balance
Kashmir’s special autonomy with its integral place in h Indian Union.

At Sheikh Abdullah’s death in 1982, Farooq Abdullah succeeded his father, but Mrs. Gandhi never
trusted him. Farooq too was an unlikely leader (famously known as ‘disco chief minister’), but he
struck out on his own, refused an alliance with the Congress and playing on Muslim sentiments won
the election in his state and was soon ousted from power with the help of Indira’s favorite weapon-
Presidents Rule. The result was the building up of a tinder pile of resentment, ready to be sparked at
the very moment when mobs of Afghan mercenaries were returning into a crisis ridden Pakistan, and
when the message of radical Islam were radiating out from Tehran and elsewhere. Soon events inside
took a deep turn and if Punjab was to prove lethal, the situation in Kashmir was taking it to an end of
no return. Kashmir soon alienated from the mainstream and an extremist movement took over
shaking the very roots of this democracy and putting an ever-hanging question mark on India's
secularism.

In the last 20 years more than 80,000 people have died in the valley, literally making it a war; a war
between countries, states, religions, sects, neighbors. How can the people who have the same
thinking power as of Mother Teresa massacre so many people without a thought? How can the power
of insanity win over the most precious feeling of human bond? How can we blame one for being
born in certain community? Am I being cynical and hypocritical in my view; isn’t the situation in the
valley responsible for such an attitude?

Indian Democracy has always been a sham. The Indian Army has been in Kashmir ever since the
accession of Kashmir and a dingy atmosphere lingers the valley. The Army picks up young boys
playing football in fields, youth enjoying a dinner party somewhere, men working in fields, or offices
on alleged pretext of being a terrorist. They are tortured, given third degree treatment, their clothes
stripped, money lost, and hundreds of these men leave their homes never to return back. That’s not
all; Army barges in the houses anytime, anywhere because it has the “license” to do so. Little to add
the miseries of Kashmiri women, where Army men have been continuously found guilty of rape.

Gunshot exchanges, grenade blast, rocket attacks have become so frequent that people have coped up
to live with them, the sensitivity has gone.

Sensitivity, well this is probably the term, which I wanted to come up. In Kashmir, terrorists and
Army both are alike; the uniform allows some to be a licensed terrorist .Once, I along with two of my
Kashmiri friends was eating in a restaurant in Chandigarh .The two happened to talk in Kashmiri,
and were soon harassed by the locals and finally the ever “active” cops were called .Then came the
endless circle of Police Station, Verification, Identification and finally after five harrowing hours
they found we were a group of teenagers ;insensible, somewhat immature, and moreover not
protesting and just doing what we do best; hanging around . Later, both of my friends pelted words
enough to gauge their heart and mind towards the Indian “System”.

Today Kashmir is calm, but is this quietness is a signal of ensuing disaster. Understanding
Kashmiriyat is complex, and perhaps that is the reason why Indian households have never thought
beyond what the Indianized media filtered out from Kashmir. The opinion today is vertically, not
horizontally divided.

The Kashmiri separatist parties seem to be dreaming of a new State; an independent country, Indian
press cooperates with the government in not telling what really goes on in the Valley, the Indians
believe that Kashmiri who asks for Azaadi is nothing but a traitor, the Army talks of Iron Hand with
a velvet glove and terrorized Kashmiri Awaam sandwiched fights for existence.

Bhanu Joshi
Journalism Major
University of Delhi
+91 (98) 9969 2695
bhanu.december@gmail.com

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