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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Valley must look within

How, why and who made New Delhi into an enemy in Kashmir? It’s time for Kashmiris to introspect

Written by Reapan Tikoo | Updated: August 13, 2020 10:19:57 pm
The officials said the explosives were found in a Syntex water tank at Karewa area of Gadikal during a search operation.

Haseeb Drabu’s, ‘Listen to the Valley’ (IE, August 7) is barking up the wrong tree and doesn’t see the wood for the trees. Let us look at the Valley as of August 4, 2019. It was a dysfunctional province, whose state-of-affairs is best captured by the Kashmiri word, Ganznas — when stink becomes the normal.

Today, there is an attempt to save the Valley. It is for Kashmiris to rise above emotional rhetoric and grab this opportunity. God forbid, if this attempt fails, we could end up being worse than Syria or Afghanistan. But there are no quick fix solutions — improving the quality of people’s lives and for peace to knock on our doors again will take time.

Drabu quotes NTR’s 1983 conclave. Several state chief ministers were at the receiving end of Delhi in the Eighties of the last century. Only Kashmir reacted differently. Andhra Pradesh prospered and Hyderabad became one of the most economically vibrant Indian cities. Hyderabad continues to prosper though Andhra Pradesh has been divided into two states. And we, in Kashmir, went on a path of self-destruction.

In 1947, Kashmir didn’t go with either India or Pakistan. But this agreement on status quo was violated by Pakistan which attacked us in October 1947. After the Maharaja signed the accession treaty, the Indian Army came forward to save Kashmir and drove out the enemy with the active support of Kashmir’s Salamati Fauj.

Till January 25,1990, the families of security personnel used to live among Kashmir’s civilian population, their children attended school with us. How, when, why and who made India into an enemy? Each Kashmiri should look within for answers.

The Women’s Disqualification Bill 2004 was introduced by the State Government, when Drabu was its adviser. The Bill proposed to disqualify women from inheriting property in the state if they married an outsider.

This was done to negate a J&K High Court ruling of 2002 that upheld the rights of women who married outside the state. This Bill amplified the injustice and gender bias in Article 35A — and its fountainhead, Article 370.

The argument for J&K’s bifurcation is pernicious. If Kashmir is not ready to live with Jammu, the long-pending demand of the terrorism-displaced Kashmiri Hindus for a UT within Kashmir has to be met.

But actually, despite differences, the people of J&K can live together by respecting each other’s rights and building a plural and economically vibrant UT — and perhaps a state someday. In fact, much of this is happening in J&K. Thirty-five per cent of the houses in and around Jammu city belong to Kashmiri Muslims, who live in harmony with the Dogras. Why should there be a problem if the next chief minister is from Jammu? Let the best person lead us — a Shia, Pandit, Gujjar or a Kashmiri Sunni Muslim.

The entitlement to toxic hegemony was responsible for creating a dysfunctional Kashmir. This has been dismantled now and has no takers today — except those who have lost their privileges. But do they have any skin in the game? Their children are studying and working outside the state while the poor man’s child is indoctrinated to be the fodder for the Islamist ideology.

The Valley will have to look inward for answers and support only what serves it.

The writer, a displaced Kashmiri, works in the field of technology research

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