Kashmir: The Undying Spirit and Yearning for Freedom
01 October, 2010
By Nisar Ahmed Thakur
Kashmir issue is an internationally recognized political dispute and as per the international covenants, Kashmiris struggle is a legitimate struggle, their demand is a just demand for plebiscite to determine political future through universally accepted principle of right to self-determination. All the way through the rights movement in Kashmir has been constant and spontaneous by nature, though it had gone through many ups and downs over the past 63-years but one thing is clearly evident that the means of resistance have changed from time to time but Kashmiris’ demand remained unaltered all the way.
Recently the world witnessed the new-phase of the resistance movement, being organized and spearheaded by the valiant and vibrant youth of Kashmir. This newfangled art of resistance by Kashmiris has not only surprised political analysts at large but it had virtually baffled the ruling elite, the intelligentsia and Indian establishment that has been proclaiming that “separatist ideology” was non-existent in Kashmir.
The undying spirit of highly charged youth and the valor of the common masses painted a different picture of the resistance movement, it was altogether a new approach as people belonging to different shades of opinion, irrespective of their social and political affiliations, acted and spoke in unison; there was no second opinion, by and large all the players on ground were seen on the same page.
Born and brought-up in an environment plagued with oppression and suppression, this new generation, after taking the reigns of the ongoing movement, reasserted Kashmiris’ position and their resolve in a very different manner, unlike their predecessors they maintained complete restraint, instead of resorting to violent means they preferred to carry forward their struggle peacefully by organizing mass rallies all across the valley to grab the world attention towards the unresolved Kashmir dispute and the stepped-up human rights violations perpetrated by Indian troops in Kashmir.
The protest demonstrations have been widespread and the public resentment against India was clearly evident all across the Kashmir vale, Chinab division (Doda, Baderwah and Kishtawar) and the other side of Peer-Panchal region including the Muslim majority areas of Poonch-Rajouri.
Though, the Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram at the very outset of mass-agitation described it as sheer frustration of unemployed youth and latter resorting to the traditional blame game Chidambaram hurled accusations on Pakistan, its premier intelligence agency the ISI and Lashkar Toyabah just to hide the fiasco.
India’s approach has been extremely belligerent and there was no change in its antagonistic behavior towards Kashmiris. As usual, New Delhi responded in a very callous and cold-blooded manner and used brute force to stifle Kashmiris’ voice. Whereas, Omar Abdullah, who very recently joined the shoe club, behaved more like New Delhi’s chief agent rather than the chief minister of the occupied territory.
He violated the public mandate ruthlessly and maintained criminal negligence over the continued blood bath of innocent civilians. At this very crucial stage, the junior Abdullah and his father Dr. Farooq usually preferred to please their masters. Instead of giving a healing touch to the bleeding wounds of Kashmiris they pursued New Delhi’s agenda just to remain in power.
Baffled by the simmering situation, the duo asked New Delhi to deploy more troops to quell the public uprising. And this was for the first time that India deployed Rapid Action Force (RAF) to muzzle the voice of freedom. On one hand Indian troops played havoc thereby killing more than 100 Kashmiris within a three months time, while on the other hand, its secret agencies remained deeply engaged in hatching conspiracies against Kashmiris. To give a bad name to the ongoing peaceful struggle the agencies tried to create a wedge between Muslims and the Sikh community.
Besides maligning the peaceful struggle of Kashmiris, Indians also tried very hard to give a notion that the uprising was just confined within Srinagar and some other towns of the valley but the world media; however, turned down India’s proclamations and termed the uprising as most powerful non-violent movement against India. While commenting on the current situation the New York Times noted that India was facing Intifada-like popular revolt in Kashmir. One of the positive aspects of the ongoing public revolt against India was that the people demonstrated highest degree of forbearance and extended their hand of co-operation in maintaining unity at all levels while generously supporting and adhering to the protest calendars issued by Syed Ali Geelani led Hurriyat faction. Not only the men and youth who are supposed to be a critical part of any successful movement, the women folk was even seen at the forefront at this crucial phase of mass agitation against India.
Anyways, this is not a new phenomenon; Kashmir has the history that besides offering matchless sacrifices, the hapless people of this troubled region have always followed their leaders with absolute sincerity, faithfulness and indeed without any pretence… but it is very unfortunate that the leadership always failed to deliver in the times of trial. At this very crucial stage when there was a dire need of complete unity and concurrence at all levels, Hurriyat leaders who claim to be the champions of Azadi (freedom) movement, seem to be poles apart from each other. Although they talk about unity but practically there is a huge gap, there is a trust-deficit and lack of magnanimity. And indeed there is personality clash and egotism that has badly damaged their collective cause on one hand while on the other people continued to suffer awfully.
The All Parties Hurriyat Conference was established in Jammu and Kashmir in 1993 one hoped that it would emerge as a broad based policy making institution cum political forum. Instead of consolidating various political actors on ground, on the contrary, it led to the further disintegration and estrangement. Nonetheless, leaders of the segregated factions of APHC may give a thousand arguments to prove their innocence in this regard but being the sole representatives of the red hot blood of Kashmiri martyrs, as they claim, it is their legal and moral responsibility to fight the forces of evil (the enemies of Kashmiri nation) by adhering to the rules and regulations established in the Hurriyat constitution. Constitutionally, they are bound to consolidate political forces on ground besides providing a strong mechanism to tackle the challenges faced by the nation.
While realizing the importance of the current peaceful uprising in the valley it is incumbent on the Hurriyat leadership to forge a broad base unity and work painstakingly to steer the nation out of the dark prospects of alienation and chaotic situation that has overwhelmingly crippled the civil society.
Holding mammoth public demonstrations, delivering long sermons in the mosques, ridiculing the opponents is not the only job of leaders…revolutionary leadership is supposed to guide the masses in the times of trial, maintain the tempo of the movement and to give right direction to the peoples’ sentiment to make it a success.
A soul-searching self-analysis is deeply needed at the moment; not to talk of a commoner, the movement leadership may have achieved a lot individually, but as a nation Kashmiris stand at point-zero even after sacrificing more than 100 thousand lives.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir have offered great sacrifices to achieve the cherished goal of freedom; their demand is a just demand. Having paid the highest forfeiture of thousands of lives to get the globally recognized right, the right to self-determination, the wailing valley of Kashmir seeks attention of the highest body (UN) and the peace loving people of the world at large. Millions of peaceful protesters marching on the streets of Kashmir have given their verdict against India. The world community’s policy of indifference towards Kashmir at this crucial stage would have dangerous repercussions on the overall geo-political situation of the region and therefore it is high time that the international community should come forward in a big way to help resolve the dispute of Kashmir peacefully.
The Indian civil society that has expressed grave concern over the prevailing situation in Kashmir too should impress upon the Indian ruling elite to desist from using indiscriminate force against Kashmiris. Palming off and on is not the solution to the problem; it is high time that the Indian rulers should adopt a realistic approach and accept this hard reality that the uprising spearheaded by the vibrant Kashmiri youth is nothing but a newfangled mode of resistance against India’s illegal occupation.
Last but not the least; Indians should also accept the ground reality that people of Kashmir were not ready to accept its dominance at any cost. They should bear in mind the very fact that they can vilify, denounce, harass or even for that matter kill Kashmiris but they can not kill their undying sprit for freedom. Rather than using brute force against the innocent civilians India should acknowledge Kashmir as a disputed territory and resolve this decade’s long conflict through peaceful means once and for all.