By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
In his recent article entitled as ‘A Different Voice in Kashmir’, the former ambassador, writer and eminent Indian scholar, Kuldip Nayar, has pointed out that, situation in Kashmir has changed altogether, and Kashmiri youth of post 1990, has taken over the charge of the renewed uprisings. Two aspects could be observed as quite obvious throughout during this new phase of uprisings; “one, there is no Pakistani hand, and two, the movement has nothing to do with the militants.” This is an extraordinary acceptance of the reality by an Indian scholar, as the people of Kashmir and Pakistan have repeatedly been saying this. Indeed, Pakistan has never been behind the Kashmiri’s freedom movement. The movement has been and is an indigenous struggle of the people of Kashmir. It started in the first quarter of 20th century, against the cruelties of the repressive Dogra regime, once there was no existence of Pakistan on the world map.
The first formal exposure of the struggle came into the glare of publicity on July 13, 1931, once Dogra Army
killed dozens of innocent Kashmiris during a peaceful protest, so how could Pakistan been behind it. The seething struggle continued thereafter, and in 1947, Kashmiri revolted against a fraudulent accession by Maharaja Hari Singh that led to the physical occupation of the state by Indian Army, against the wishes of Kashmiris. Thereafter, there has been phased revival of the struggle against the Indian occupation of the state; the major armed resistance against Indian repressive security forces started in 1990.
The current lot of the Kashmiri youth has resorted to adopt a peaceful way to attain their right of self-determination. Indeed, the prolonged armed struggle by their antecedents has taught them that, initially, they too were peacefully pursuing their demands, but compelled to take arms, which was not the solution, but certainly had an impact. They did not let the freedom movement to die for which they paid a heavy price. This cost of revolting against Indian occupation by Kashmiris surely remained unmatchable. Over 93,000 people have lost their lives, thousands still languishing in prisons and torture cells and there has been brutal rapes and burning of houses and properties by the occupation forces.
Today when compared with Gaza, Kashmir stands much worse. At least all the international media and the civil society stands behind the people of Gaza. Here in Indian Occupied Kashmir, people are left at the mercy of the Indian Army that spares no opportunity to kill, rape and humiliate the Kashmiris. The British Prime Minister visited India on a sales mission, his eyes were blinded or he closed his eyes and ears to the plight of the Kashmiris. Obama or his predecessors have never said a word about Kashmir, why? All they say it would be best solved by without outside interference. To them Kashmiris are not humans or they do not have a right to human values and dignity.
To the desire of international community, Kashmiri people suspended their armed resistance in 2002/03, thus giving way to peaceful political solution to the issue. They waited for some positive outcome until 2008. Seeing no moves, Kashmiri masses once again started their peaceful protests in 2008. This time the peaceful protestors were responded by economic strangulation and brutal massacres like the early 1990s. Nevertheless, in-spite of resorting to peaceful means by Kashmiris, the international community did not make serious efforts to resolve the issue.
It is worth mentioning that unless pushed to the walls, Kashmiris are a peaceful nation. This is evident from the prolonged foreign subjugation, spreading over two centuries. Pelting stone is the maximum violence by Kashmiri youth, being practised even today. This too is done once they receive bullets from the Indian Army soldiers and paramilitary personnel. It is to h mention that, since the beginning of June 2010, over 100 innocent Kashmiris, mostly youth have been brutally killed by Indian Security Forces.
I agree with Kuldip Nayar to the extent that the youth, “do not agree to the various formulas which have been presented for the solution of the Kashmir issue.” However, they too do not accept the Indian rule over their motherland, which is the essence of the dispute. This indeed is the real cause of the anger with the youth against the establishment in New Delhi and Srinagar. In fact, it is the Indian establishment; a combination of Indian bureaucracy and strong Military power, the real power centre in India that denies Kashmiris to exercise their right of self-determination in the light of UN resolutions. What to talk of Manmohan Singh or Omer Abdullah, no Indian, and puppet Kashmiri leader has ever tried to understand the ‘ethos of Kashmiri movement.’ The recent shoe throwing on the Chief Minister by a policeman is a clear indication that Kashmiris should no more celebrate the independence day of their occupying power. This was an open revolt against the regimes and the systems, ruling them against their wishes since 1947.
The youth’s rising has surely no economic agenda; therefore, can be lured in neither through job offers of Omer Abdullah for 75,000 people, nor Indian Army’s illusory mode of good will gesture, put into practice through Operation Sadbahwana. They have only one agenda, “allow us to exercise our right of self determination,” as given to them by international community through over twenty-three UN resolutions. In this regard, they do not take a lead from the puppet leadership of the state that has been betraying their confidence for years and years, through the lollypops of the autonomy and self- rule.
Over the years, Indian establishment and pseudo scholars are making assertion that the growing unrest in IOK has the element of radicalism and Islamist fundamentalism. Some of them even compare it with the Naxalism, with a pronounced religious slant. However, the reality is that, Kashmiri movement is a peaceful political struggle for the right of self-determination, rather than a religiously motivated radical and Islamist movement. Dubbing the movement as terrorism is indeed to betray the international community, which take this hazy term as a threat to the global peace. If at all there is terrorism in Kashmir, it is committed by Indian security forces on the innocent Kashmiri masses.
There is a harmonized society in Kashmir comprises of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and others. However, being in majority, the Muslim is the dominating community in Kashmir. But this is not like the India, where the dominant class; the Hindu majority, openly proclaim through its radical parties like RSS, BJP and other Hindu nationalist parties, that all non Hindu population have two options; either to convert into Hinduism or leave India. There has never been an infighting among Kashmiris of different beliefs. After partition of the Subcontinent into India and Pakistan, the then Kashmiri Prime Minister, Pandit Kak, a Hindu by religion, advised the Mahraja Hari Singh not to join the Indian Union, rather preferred to be part of Pakistan or Kashmir remaining independent. But the Maharaja was put to such a pressure that he was not left with any option but to accede to India.
Besides, Kashmiris cannot be called as separatist or secessionist, as they are not the Indian nationals. Historically, except the period of forced occupation, Kashmir has never been part of India. Practically Kashmiris are a different nation, then how can they be called as the separatists or the secessionists. Correspondingly, their political struggle cannot be equated with radicalism or the so-called terrorism, taking place elsewhere in India like Naxalism or Maoism. Terrorism was labelled to defame the Kashmiris struggle after 9/11.
Kashmiris are peace-loving people and the current phase of the youth’s uprising is a peaceful political movement, cannot be mislead as radicalism or the religious fundamentalism. What all Kashmiris desire is the authority to exercise their right of self-determination as per UN resolutions? International community must fulfil its promise with the Kashmiris for giving them their basic right to live as per their wishes and should compel India to stop killing the Kashmiri people through gruesome human rights violations.
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan did his PhD from Karachi University. Now he is a Associate Professor with National Defence University Islamabad. Dr Khan does his research on South Asia, Central Asia and the Islamic World. He is also current on the present regional conflicts and crises. He is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.