Out of my mind: The opportunity in Kashmir

The Kashmir tragedy has been so routinised and so predictable that nothing ever surprises any longer.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published: July 16, 2017 12:38 am
amarnath yatra, amarnath yatra attack, kashmir pilgrims attack, amarnath pilgrims attack, hurriyat, jihadist, naga tribes, kashmir situation The Kashmir tragedy has been so routinised and so predictable that nothing ever surprises any longer.

The surprise in Kashmir is not the death of pilgrims caught in the crossfire between militants and the forces trying to maintain law and order. Attacks have become routine, the reactions are predictable and the sequel will be the same as always — nothing will change. The new development this time has been that the separatists of the Hurriyat came out to condemn the killings. They put their names out publicly for their opposition to the attack on the pilgrims to Amarnath to be known.

The Kashmir tragedy has been so routinised and so predictable that nothing ever surprises any longer. The same actions and reactions take place. Every killing of a jihadist is followed by a huge crowd turning out for the funeral, and then more attacks. Hardliners want more to be killed and the moderates want more dialogue.

The first thing to learn from the latest events is that the jihadists are not the same as the Hurriyat. The jihadists are outsiders; if not actually from across the border. They have no loyalty to Kashmir or India. That is not the situation with the Hurriyat. They care for Kashmir. They have a desire for autonomy. Azadi does not mean breaking with India but autonomy for Kashmir in local matters. Kashmir raises such strong reactions that those who are in India, at a distance from Kashmir, want to label this as treason.

But few of the people who get cross with every new tragedy in Kashmir know or can recall what happened in the case of the Nagas. Upon Independence, the Nagas took the view that they were never a part of British India. So when the British left, they wanted their own nation-state. Jawaharlal Nehru refused to accept that stance. There was an open conflict between Naga rebels and the Indian government which ran for decades. The Naga leader (Angami Zapu) Phizo operated from his exile perch in London. But eventually, the Naga leaders signed an accord with India in Shillong. Of course, some Naga factions are still fighting for complete independence, but Nagaland is a state within the Indian Union. It is so integrated that the news is a challenge to the Chief Minister from a rival. How much more Indian can a situation be!

The war with Naga tribes was carried on, more or less, to the complete inattention of the Indian public. It did not arouse the passions Kashmir does. That is because the Nagaland dispute has no connection with Partition, while Kashmir dispute is interwoven with that traumatic event. Nagaland is on the other side from Pakistan. Indians were relaxed about the decades of military activity in the Northeast.

The schism between the jihadists and the Hurriyat needs to be seized upon by the government. Hurriyat are Indian people; the jihadists are not. The first move by the PDP-BJP coalition should be to offer high-level security to Hurriyat leaders. This may shock people but we must make it clear that even while many disagree with them, the Hurriyat leaders are Indian citizens. They are to be met with argument.

Kashmir needs patience to get right. A harder military approach will be urged. That has been tried since 1989. Time may have come to try something different.

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  1. Sharad Shah
    Jul 20, 2017 at 10:56 am
    Give Kashmir the same freedom under the present Indian Government that it had in the British Indian Government. This will bring peace with honour to all concerned. Ruling people without their consent is immoral. The British realized this and left India. Let us follow their example. Don't cut your nose to spite your face.
    1. D
      Jul 17, 2017 at 12:15 pm
      Despite of trying to solve kashmir problem overnight, the Indian government should manage the situation for sufficiently longer time. Side by side, massive development efforts coupled with employment generation and winning hearts and minds of the people will facilitate emotional integration of kashmir with rest of India. Regional integration is empty without emotional integration.
      1. M
        M M
        Jul 17, 2017 at 7:00 am
        Democratic process of encouraging all the stakeholders is the only option to resolve contentious issues which the Indian establishment is not resorting to. Reasons! The central government is the beneficiary of the politics of communal polarisation in the JK and the rest of the country. Army is not for fighting it's own people but it's currently used for political purposes which is unfortunate. There are no social and political issues that can not be solved through mutual discussion and understanding but Indian establishment has chosen to rule the state by shedding blood of soldiers and common Kashmiri people. India cannot silence the autonomy voices of millions of Kashmiris. Intellectuals like Dr Desai should forcefully and strongly tell the government, lest Kashmir will be out of Indian union
        1. Bert Brech
          Jul 16, 2017 at 10:24 pm
          Never take the advice of sell out weaklings like Desai. Modi is a tough guy. Better to die than live a Muslim slave like Desai.
          1. S
            shahid khan
            Jul 16, 2017 at 10:13 pm
            Good suggestion. Doing the same thing again and again and expecting different result is described as insanity. It has been a long time since 1989 and military approach have not produced a desirable result. Many leading Indian, latest being Yashwant sinha, have reported on the alienation of Kashmiris. It is time to try dialogue and offer some autonomy to settle the dispute.
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