Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The Valley of Heaven & Hell
What it feels to be told that a part of your home is disputed, is under somebody else’s control. It feels awkward, it upsets you and you will surely feel like it taking it back. Then you are told about so many clauses to get your hold on that part that you get confused, you get tired. Then the most painful part: people residing in that part of your home start speaking in a different tone, start believing in theories that you never heard. They become more tolerant to your neighbors than you, they celebrate the success of your neighbors not yours. These things makes you ask yourself: what action can be taken, why they are speaking a different language, what are the areas you are falling short or is it even worth keeping them as a part of your home?
Well what I am going to write ahead is about a topic or should I say an issue on which it has been comprehensively written about, spoken about and debated. It’s about a place called Kashmir, at one point of time called as ‘heaven on earth’. Yes, today there are no signs of any heavenly feeling or news coming from that valley, one of the most scenic places I have seen in my whole life. It has been more than 2 decades that the valley has been witnessing casualties almost every day. There has been infiltration, there have been riots and there have been attacks on Indian Army by locals. Our beloved neighbor Pakistan has been claiming its rights on the valley since ages, the people of valley has been asking for an independent state status, India has only claiming that the valley is their inseparable part. No conclusions, no decisive action or no punitive measures on attacks by monsters in masks.
Militants have been active in Kashmir over last 2 decades claiming more than 50000 lives including the men in uniform, that’s quite some number. Many battles have been fought, trust has been broken more than once, but we have not reached at any conclusion. Blood is shed every day to prove the point of a small section of people. We, as a country, have been soft on our foreign policies since inception. This has resulted in China intruding our land, Pakistan doing the same and many other countries taking the benefit playing around our policies. All we have done so far as a government is to witness in mute is Kashmiri Pundits being killed and thrown out of the valley, innocent lives taken by terrorists in the name of religion and invasion of neighbors from all parts of the valley.
Now, having said all these, there is an aspect of Kashmir that silences me to some extent. It’s like that part of the home which is disputed has reasons for it. You discover that you only know 80% of the whole story when you go through such history. Kashmir as a state was under dispute right from the beginning and India never handled it in a firm way. We have always allowed others to invade our land and our minds before we spoke or took action. The one thing we have religiously doing in last 6 decades of our independence is talk about “peace” and countless initiatives on it. And all we got in return is betrayal of our neighbors. But in the hindsight, there have been no clearly defined policies in place.
Today, giving away the valley to any country will not make it a better place; giving it an independent status will solve no purpose. The simple reason behind it is Pakistan is not capable to sustain its own economy and feed its own people. It is equally infected with insurgency on its own soil. Making this state an independent entity will make it even poorer as there is no source of income apart from tourism (which is already badly hit thanks to terrorism). But the saddest part of all is, these are not understood by the inhabitants of the valley. They are simply being driven by a herd mentality with unjustified demands. Such cases needs to be dealt with a lot of precision and needs to be validated by strong administration.
I agree and accept that there have been incidences of army’s misconduct; there have been instances of protesters being handled in wrong ways and also false encounters. These acts cannot be accepted under any circumstances when we talk of such high integrity and democracy. We also cannot, under any situation, overlook the peacemaking treaties we have signed and the voices of the people there.
Before I finish, I would like to mention what makes me sad as a citizen of this country. I feel ashamed when an attack on Mumbai is justified by certain militant group and people of the valley remain silent. I feel terrible when Kashmiris protest the hanging of Afzal Guru, does that justify the attack on the parliament. I feel bad when they remain silent on the barbaric attacks of Pakistan on our citizens jailed there. The way they celebrate when we lose in sports, the way they cheer when beating & stoning our army men.
May be that part of our home does not want to embrace us as their own, may be they do not identify themselves with us or may be they were never ours.
Few links which represents multiple dimensions to this issue, do read: