What Those Who Disagree with Manu Joseph Have to Say [Part 4 of ‘A Fresh Wave of Thinking in the Kashmir Valley’ Series]

Posted on June 4, 2012 in Exclusive, Specials

By Karmanye Thadani:

In the previous article in this series, we dealt with the non-separatist Kashmiri Muslim writer Sualeh Keen’s piece endorsing Manu Joseph’s stand about normalcy having returned to Kashmir.

So, what do those having a problem with Manu’s article have to say? Let’s see what Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, an Indian writer supportive of the separatist movement, who isn’t a Kashmiri Muslim, has to say. She writes in an article titled ‘Happy in Kashmir, Laughterless in India’

“…the root cause of the conflict or its most touching repercussions — human rights violations, which itself had been the first trigger in 2010 street protests.”

We have already dealt with the problem with this line of argument in the previous article in this series, which is that human rights violations by security personnel, though unjustified, are an inevitable consequence of any armed rebellion, as Sualeh Keen, a Kashmiri Muslim himself, has pointed out (his article being referred to is available here.

Moving on, Anuradha Bhasin Jhamwal writes –

“As for the Indian intelligentsia, it’s begun parroting cyclic refrains about ‘optimism in Kashmir’, ‘Kashmir needs to move on’ and ‘Kashmir can now be resolved overnight’, a la Wajahat Habibullah and R.K. Dullat. But what takes the cake is writer-journalist Manu Joseph, known otherwise for his progressive views, proclaiming that ‘Kashmir indeed is happy’ and his latest apologist who comes up with a critique of the former and concludes that while the analysis and observations were fine, it was just a case of wrong choice of words and that ‘happy’ should happily be replaced with ‘hopeful’. Such words may not simply smack of insanity and lack of logic, they also betray a sheer lack of sensitivity. It doesn’t need a genius to sense what Kashmir wants. All it takes is a bit of sensitivity, some openness and an unbiased mind that refuses to get prejudiced by a myopic chauvinism and denial of Indian wrongs in Kashmir.”

So, her primary allegation against Manu Joseph is his overlooking human rights violations by Indian security personnel. Had he done so, that would have indeed been a gaping flaw in his piece, since these have indeed served as a catalyst for and for some Kashmiri Muslims, even the basic cause of the struggle for azadi. But if Anuradha Bhasin Jhamwal would have read Manu Joseph’s piece carefully, she couldn’t have missed this passage —

“Faesal does not have a passport yet. The only foreign country he has ever visited is Nepal. ‘But that’s still India, right?’ he says with a chuckle. A decade ago, his father, a schoolteacher and known Moderate, was killed by ‘unidentified gunmen’. Once, after a bomb blast in Srinagar, Army jawans rounded up some men on the streets, including Faesal’s father. The men were beaten up and they were, according to Faesal, forced to chant, ‘Ram, Ram’.”

Manu Joseph alludes to the unidentified gunmen as possibly being Indian soldiers, and explicitly mentions how Army jawans rounded up innocents and beat them up after a bomb explosion and forced them to chant the name of a deity of another faith. Not only that, Manu Joseph has referred to rapes, murders and forced disappearances by Indian Army personnel in that very piece, but of course, people like Anuradha Bhasin Jhamwal overlook such passages, perhaps deliberately.

About such non-Kashmiris sympathizing with the separatists, Keen writes —

“The separatists have for the first time in many years, after they picked up guns, been able to garner some sort of wider public attention and interest in Kashmir, and begun to extract solidarity from other groups in India and the West–mainly Leftist groups, which in my opinion may be well-intentioned but have a severe lack of understanding of the local complexities of the issue.”

Next, we may consider the stance of Mohamad Junaid, a Kashmiri separatist writer based in New York. My first encounter with his views came when I read the well-known book Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir, containing essays and interviews compiled by the prominent pro-azadi Kashmiri Hindu, Sanjay Kak. The book carried a very well articulated essay by him in the form of an open letter to all fellow Kashmiris (it’s also available on this online source) reflecting very progressive views in which he wrote that an independent Kashmir must be a secular state offering unconditional friendship to India, Pakistan and China, and one in which the religious minorities shall not be viewed with suspicion. He also wrote that there are Kashmiri Muslims averse to azadi, and that they have every right to voice their views (this was stated in a footnote in the book, which isn’t there in the online version), one of the few pieces by any Kashmiri separatist I encountered that acknowledges the diversity of political opinions among present-day Kashmiri Muslims. He also stressed on environmentally sustainable economic development reaching out to all sections of the society after Kashmir gains independence. He also expressed the idea that the azadi-seeking Kashmiris must listen to their adversaries representing the Indian state and politely refuse what they regard as fundamentally unjust, but they must be willing to listen, for listening is a gesture of great friendship. However, he exhibited the standard prejudice of labeling India as a Hindutva-ized country common to all these Kashmiri separatists who proudly boast of Kashmiri Muslim tolerance. If they don’t expect to be stereotyped on the basis of the killings of Kashmiri Hindus by some men of their own ilk, then on what basis do they stereotype India’s Hindu populace, numbering to about 800 million, for some Hindus who have killed innocent Muslims, and in the case of the Gujarat riots, their favourite example, in retaliation to the Godhara train burning by Muslim extremists?

I joined a Facebook group called Kashmir Solidarity Network, meant to be a group of people expressing solidarity to condemn human rights violations by Indian security personnel (no, at least the stated mandate of the group makes no reference to azadi for Kashmir) in which Mr. Junaid was an admin, and there, he posted an article of his own, refuting Manu Joseph’s article, titled ‘The Fools Are At It, Again’ (very offensive indeed!), in which he wrote that India’s Hindu populace had a problem with Kashmiri Muslims because the latter were “so Muslim”. I took strong exception to this remark, pointing out that Indian Hindus have no issues with tolerant, peace-loving and friendly Muslims even if they are very devout in their religious beliefs and practices. I also said that had the word ‘Muslim’ been replaced by ‘Islamist’ (Islamism is to Islam what Hindutva is to Hinduism and both are totalitarian ideologies that paint other communities as enemies and are actually not in conformity with the teachings of the two great religions), it would have been understandable since many (though certainly not all) Indian Hindus think of Kashmiri Muslims in that light, but even most of them would distinguish Islamism from Islam, and I pointed that out in a comment addressed to him in that thread. Indeed, Maulana Azad has been one of the greatest scholars of Islam in South Asia, and he is loved by most Indian Hindus for his contribution to the freedom struggle. In the same article, Junaid has written with reference to Faesal and other Kashmiri Muslims in the Indian bureaucracy –

“A word about brand marketing of IAS is due here. My contention is that as neoliberalism continues to remove traditional powers out of the bureaucratic sphere, that is, as Indian bureaucracy loses its former powers, more unreflective Kashmiri Muslims will join the ranks of bureaucracy. After India dismantled social spending programs, like Public Distribution System etc, the Indian elite no longer believes in the power of this old colonial and License Raj-era profession. Decisions are made in the boardrooms of capitalists, financiers and investors. It is, therefore, not odd that a de-fanged bureaucracy will be outsourced to Kashmiris and other subversive or potentially subversive populations. That is why there is also no contradiction between the Indian polity becoming more Hindutva-ized than ever and more Muslims beginning to find jobs in bureaucracy. Overall, in the neoliberal set-up, government itself becomes a shameless, direct handmaiden of capital, where the government’s role is reduced to being the advance clearing party before capital lands; which means the ruling classes don’t see real power–you know, the power to make crucial, directive decisions—in government jobs.

So, a historic opportunity has opened up for the subjugated to fill in these ranks. This opportunity is, however, only an opportunity to dissolve a people as people. An auto-dissolution, if you will, since the decision is made with full intention to serve the occupier state. It puts the potentially thinking vanguard out of circulation. The careerists delude themselves into believing that their ‘success’ is a function of their ‘genius’ and effort, and as soon as they enter the services of the state, they pontificate to the people from whom they emerged. They don’t realize that their “success” is, in fact, directly related to the political subversiveness of the people to whom they preach to submit. If Kashmiris didn’t resist, there would be no need to placate them with these symbolic images, these shiny-skinned cardboard cutouts.”

Cutting across all his fancy language, all that Junaid has tried to convey is that as the Indian economy moves away from the license permit raj, the bureaucracy becomes less important, and therefore, those berths are being given without hesitation to oppressed peoples like Kashmiris, some of whom are getting duped into believing that India cares for them, and in fact, it is actually because of the Kashmiris’ resistance that India looks for such ways to placate them. Mr. Junaid would have to prove this very strong assertion with some strong backing. Firstly, a bureaucrat still wields a lot of power in India, even if the license permit raj no longer exists (and though we say it’s gone, it hasn’t completely and no, the Public Distribution System has certainly not been dismantled), and the argument that the IAS officers are now not all that important is very silly to say the least. Secondly, what evidence does he have to say that Faesal or other such people were given preference over other meritorious candidates only because they were Kashmiris? Finally, if it’s corporates and not bureaucrats who are only important in today’s India, it may be emphasized that one of the biggest industrialists in this country, Azim Premji, is a Muslim and he has been the richest Indian at a certain point of time. And, this ‘Hindutva-ized’ India of Junaid’s actually trusts Muslims in the armed forces, even at high ranks and gives them gallantry awards, and intelligence agencies, and one of India’s most popular Presidents so far is a Muslim, besides Muslims being prominent public figures in the spheres of journalism, academic research, sports and cinema, with their Muslim names not coming in the way of the recognition of their talent.

I also expressed objection to this undue exaggeration of the Hindutva element in India when it has failed as a tool of political mobilization at the national level. I pointed to Junaid that liberals like him have a different vision of an independent Kashmir from Islamists whose views would somewhat resemble, to varying degrees, those of Geelani, and that before trying to paint Indian Hindus with the same brush (someone posted a comment portraying all Gujarati Hindus as people who “enjoy lynching and roasting people”, a statement which wasn’t retracted by that person even when I pointed out that many Gujarati Hindus actually gave asylum to Muslims in their own homes in those turbulent times, and even today, many of them are engaging in relief work and/or fighting legal battles for the victims), they need to introspect that some of their own ilk had exhibited immense religious intolerance while shooting down Kashmiri Hindus and that liberal Kashmiri secessionists need to take on Islamist secessionists along with the Indian state if they want an independent Kashmir of their liking.

To this, Junaid replied saying that the Indian state machinery has been responsible for so much killing that comparing it to the damage done to Kashmir by the Islamist militancy is not fair, though of course, I was never trying to equate the two statistically, nor can the adverse effect of Islamism as an ideology be gauged only by comparing the number of casualties of the militancy with those of rogue soldiers committing human rights violations. When I said that, someone else protested that these were not activities of rogue soldiers but the carrying out of a genocide well planned in Delhi, something I refused to accept and even asked for evidence for, which couldn’t be produced but I was ridiculed for not buying this ludicrous theory. Some even said that the Indian state had a role to play in killing several innocent Kashmiri Hindus who stayed back after most of them left, and when I again said that I won’t believe this so long as it is just a conspiracy theory, someone sarcastically said that I had a great sense of humour and that I should transport myself to the stone age! Someone even called me an “irksome ghoul” in spite of my being very civil.

Junaid went on to say that Indian Hindus, by and large, believe that Muslims per se are a problem globally, which again makes little sense for then, Indian Muslims wouldn’t have excelled in all walks of life, and it’s not like Indian Muslims perennially face discrimination in their daily lives in schools, colleges or workplaces. He even tried to refute the well-known fact that Hindutva has lost much of its relevance in India, saying that politicians like Bal Thackeray and Narendra Modi don’t need to inject more anti-Muslim poison in the minds of people because anti-Muslim hatred has become so very mainstream, which is far from true. I pointed out that Modi’s sadbhavana fasts for communal harmony indicate that he wishes to reach out to a huge secular Hindu vote-bank that he knows is inclined to reject him in spite of the commendable economic growth he has brought to Gujarat (yes, there is crony-capitalism and neglect of the poor by his administration, but still, even in supplying microcredit financing facilities or check dams to poor farmers, Modi has been ahead of many other Chief Ministers).

Another point of contention was the oft-repeated Islamist myth of delayed justice for victims of Hindu aggression against religious minorities as opposed to the victims of Islamist terror attacks and this being an indicator of the communal bias of the Indian state. I pointed out how in the context of the Gujarat riots, justice was done in the Best Bakery Case and Sardarpura Massacre case, besides even Maya Kodnani, who had been the Education Minister of Gujarat in 2002, being sent to jail, much before the sentences were pronounced for the Godhra train burning, of how the perpetrators of the 1993 Mumbai blasts were also punished as late as in 2006, while on the other hand, many Hindus responsible for the anti-Christian riots in the Kandhamal district of Odisha in 2008, including MLAs like Manoj Pradhan and Ashok Sahu, were punished quite quickly. Also, even if this assertion of riots cases against Hindus taking much longer to get resolved than terrorism cases against Muslims is accepted for the sake of argument (though as we have seen, this is certainly not always the case), I pointed out how riots cases, with many perpetrators spread across an entire region and with instances of perjury in the absence of any proper witness protection mechanism in India in general and with the heavy backlog of cases in India in any case, usually take longer to settle than terrorism-related cases which have been tried very often under special anti-terror laws (the MCOCA, for example, is even being employed for Hindutvavadi terrorists like Purohit and Pragya Singh Thakur) and very often in special anti-terror courts, which does help to speed up the process.

Such debates went on and on, and Junaid commented saying that the struggle for freedom undercuts jingoistic nationalism and has a very strong humanistic worldview. I refuted this argument quite strongly as well, pointing to various examples of formerly oppressed nations like the Americans, Zionists, Pakistanis and even Indians, all of which underwent struggles resulting in what they came to call liberation but among whom empathy for others’ legitimate urge for freedom is selective and which themselves tend to oppress, be it Iraqis, Palestinians, Balochs or Kashmiris in the respective cases. The selective empathy in the Indian context can be seen with respect to Tibetans and in the Pakistani context for Kashmiris, though, of course, the question of Kashmir is very complex with the militants killing off so many Kashmiri Hindus and pro-India Kashmiri Muslims and with Pakistan not implementing the UN resolution mandating it to the return the part of Kashmir occupied by it to India before a plebiscite can be conducted, but still, most Indians would choose to keep themselves oblivious of ground realities of any plebiscite promise, former rigging of elections or human rights violations by Indian security personnel in the valley and just choose to shout from their rooftops that Kashmir is an integral part of India (based on Hari Singh’s signing the instrument of accession in India’s favour, overlooking in the cases of Hyderabad and Junagadh, India did not go by the wishes of the rulers and invaded these princely states, saying that the people wanted India), Pakistanis faring no better when it comes to Balochistan, which, like Nepal and Bhutan, wasn’t even a part of India under the British and was invaded by Pakistan going against the wishes of both the ruler and the majority of the populace. The next day, I was banned from the group, in spite it being clear that I wasn’t someone with a nationalist bias and wasn’t giving a clean chit even to Indians! I wrote to Junaid, saying that this wasn’t on and if the goal of the group was to express solidarity against human rights violations by Indian military and paramilitary forces in Kashmir, is it necessary for me to believe that most Indian Hindus are hardcore extremists or that these human rights violations amount to the execution of a genocide planned in Delhi? He apologized and added me back, saying he didn’t know which admin removed me, but told me that people out there are quite intelligent and so, I shouldn’t talk in terms of liberals and Islamists when it came to Kashmiri Muslims! I retorted, saying that those who label all Gujarati Hindus as criminals or exaggerate the problem of Hindutva but bury their heads in the sand when it comes to Islamism in the valley, are not intelligent by any means, after which I found myself blocked again and Junaid repeated he didn’t know who was blocking me! Though I do take his word for it, it shows the reluctance of many of these cyber-vocal Kashmiri separatists to engage with those who disagree with them, even if respectfully.

Later, when I read Keen’s article, the following words rang a bell –

“The separatists are only interested in exaggerating the figures of victims, demonizing India, and exhorting people to make sacrifices at the altar of Azadi, while acting as fire starters or as torch-bearing cheerleaders standing outside the fire or as pall bearers and mourners. The most notable characteristic of the workers of the ‘The Unhappiness Factory’ is that they are not content in seeing human rights violations (HRVs) being put to an end or seeing that victims get justice. No, they want nothing like that to happen, because justice for the victims and an end to HRVs would portray ‘Endia’ (India) as a responsive and responsible ‘Demon-crazy’ (Democracy), and that will undermine and devalue the sacrifices of the martyrs. They are very clear that they want nothing less than secession from India, even if India’s human rights record improves to become the best in the world, which is fine, because people may seek secession from a larger country for one reason or the other. But the aspiration of which ‘people’ do the separatists represent? The separatists are unable to or refuse to accept the hard reality of the divided opinion of the people of J&K State.

The cumulative positive contribution of the separatists towards the betterment of Kashmir draws a blank. Rather than supporting, the separatists can be seen pooh-poohing the local movements about RTI, corruption, environment, etc. They even try to morally pressurize victims against taking compensation from the State. These ‘Einsteins’ think that switching off and rebooting the main power switch would make every malfunctioning appliance in the house function properly on its own, miraculously, as soon as the light of Azadi dawns. That Kashmir may on the contrary get plunged into darkness is a risk this vocal minority is willing to take on behalf of every Kashmiri, even those who don’t agree with them, because according to them ‘Azadi is for everybody,’ notwithstanding the differing opinions of some Kashmiri Muslims and religious and ethnic minorities in the valley, the entire Pandit community that fled away from the violent Islamist Azadi movement in 1990 and the people of the Jammu and Ladakh regions of the J&K State. And until thy ‘Free-doom’ has come, every other enterprise in the valley should be suspended, cynically mocked, or termed as inconsequential. Only Azadi is of value and only the separatist knows what is good for the people whether they agree to it or not.”

Speaking of RTI, this passage in Keen’s article too is interesting —

“No wonder, Manu Joseph’s interview of the top ranking Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer from the valley, Dr. Shah Faesal (which forms the backdrop of his ‘Sorry, Kashmir Is Happy’ article) was harshly criticized of by the online separatists, which compelled the target of criticism to respond in a Facebook groups. The separatists conveniently turned a blind eye to the pioneering work done in the area of RTI (Right To Information) by Dr. Shah Faesal. Incidentally, one of his first RTI cases was about finding the whereabouts of a civilian picked up by the Border Security Forces in 1990 and never seen again. But the separatists are not interested in all these ‘charades’ of justice or making heroes out of individuals who work within the ‘system’.”

Keen has also written the following about these Facebook revolutionaries —

“Some of the shrillest proponents of Azadi operate online from urban Kashmir, elsewhere in India, or from abroad. Beneath their veneer of Leftist ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ word salads resides a foundation of xenophobic regional-religious chauvinism they can barely conceal and is hardly an improvement over that of their gun-wielding Islamist predecessors. Using what is essentially a Leftist jargon, they warn of the ‘occupying forces’ using ‘progress, development and peace’ to undermine the Azadi movement, even though a better education or a career in a peaceful setting is what took many of them to places outside the valley. Those who warn of the ‘capitalist consumer carrot’ should go to a Kashmiri wedding and Waazwan (wedding feast–no carrots on the menu) where ordinary Kashmiris can teach them (and the rest of India) a thing or two about consumerism that is very much indigenous! It becomes a futile task of imposing and seeking to universalize the unfettered-capitalism debate (legitimate in other contexts) to a localized phenomenon and to individual choices to the point of absurdity. It is extremely patronizing and hypocritical of the computer-savvy city slicker or a non-resident Kashmiri to tell people that they do not need decent jobs and infrastructure.”

This very “xenobhic regional-religious chauvinism” that contrasts Kashmiri Muslims epitomizing religious tolerance and Indian Hindus epitomizing religious intolerance (even if all major acts of violence by Hindus against any community have been provoked by some violent act of some people from that community, be it Khalistani Sikhs killing innocent Punjabi Hindus and later, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, or Maoists from the Christian community in Odisha shooting down Laxmidananda Saraswati or Muslim extremists burning the S-16 coach of the Sabarmati Express in Godhara, though this is certainly not to condone, leave alone, justify the killing of innocent Muslims, Sikhs or Christians in the name of avenging these acts) has been very well brought out by Keen and clearly reflected in the discussions these so-called liberals had with me, and it proves that many of these (though certainly not all) Kashmiri separatists are, in this sense, no better than jingoistic Indian nationalists or even Hindutvavadis. The only Indians these people are willing to accept are those who tow their line, and even the Indians who disagree with them but are open to understanding and even respecting their position like me, are subjected to insult and mockery. At this rate, how can they ever hope to swing Indian opinion in their favour, or even international opinion when the world now knows India for what it is?

This tendency of making sweeping negative generalizations about Indian Hindus has also been echoed by a prominent azadi-supporting non-resident Kashmiri Hindu academician, Nitasha Kaul, who wrote a blog maligning Indian Hindus, accusing all of them, including the educated middle class, of being casteist and communal, and this piece too found a place in the book Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir. She also made some very contradictory statements about Kashmiri Hindus’ identification with India prior to their exodus. She also wrongly stated that India became a secular state only in 1976 by inserting the word ‘secular’ in the constitution that year, though India was never a theocracy even prior to that and the word wasn’t inserted initially because of the multiple meanings it carried and this point was debated in the Constituent Assembly. I posted a lengthy comment on her blog exposing her lies and half-truths (highlighting besides other things that even the RSS, which defines ‘Indianness’ in connection with a Vedic cultural heritage too has its moderate elements ready to assimilate practising Muslims and Christians willing to acknowledge their Hindu ancestry and the ancient Indian heritage as their own, and these moderates within the Sangh are averse to killing innocents; in fact, because of these moderates, several Muslims and Christians have been drawn to the Sangh, and the RSS Muslims have formed their own organization called the Musalman Rashtravadi Morcha, abbreviated as MRM, and the Sangh as a whole has provided education and health care to people without discriminating on the basis of faith), which she deleted, though she retained another comment by an ignorant person accusing her of being a fake Kashmiri Hindu and abusing her, but that comment did not effectively expose her false propaganda, while mine did. Later, I found her on Facebook and sent her a friend request which she accepted. I had luckily saved a copy of the comment and I posted the same as a Facebook note in which I tagged her, but instead of defending her stand in the comments, she untagged herself and blocked me from her friend-list, simply because she didn’t have any refutations!

Such were the people who launched a successful campaign to have the Harud Literary Festival cancelled in Kashmir, so as to prevent the world from thinking that there is normalcy in Kashmir. Passing a sarcastic remark on these intellectual Kashmiri separatists quoting Edward Said, a prominent American Jewish writer who was outspoken in favour of the Palestinians, at the drop of a hat, Rahul Pandit, a Kashmiri Hindu writer who also feels the pain of Kashmiri Muslims subjected to human rights violations by Indian military and paramilitary personnel, but is equally expressive about the plight of his co-religionists from the valley, and who was going to attend the festival, has written in an article in the magazine Open, titled The Autumn of Hypcrisy

“I was going to be there to talk about everything I felt strongly about: the killings of the past few summers, the unmarked mass graves, the unfortunate spectacle of an old man being made to frog-jump in front of his son by a CRPF trooper, the untruth about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, the hypocrisy of the mainstream media when it came to reporting on Kashmir. I also felt the festival would enable young Kashmiris to interact with prominent writers and artists, and also serve as a platform for them to learn about literature and the process of writing. But saying even this much is apparently taboo. How dare someone teach anything to Kashmiris? After all, young Kashmiris now read Edward Said and Dostoevsky.”

As for his reference to “the myth about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits”, the myth is that Governor Jagmohan had them shifted from the valley in spite of their actually not being under any grave threat, the reality being that the militants were eager to engage in a full-fledged ethnic cleansing when it came to that community. He has further written—

“To my Kashmiri friends I say this: we need to fight our own battles. The Twitter messiahs will come and go. They have no stake in our story. For them, we are just case studies. For another article. Or a film. Or white paper. It is time we owned our stories. The story of Fancy Jan, who received a bullet in her heart. The groom whose henna-dyed little finger went lifeless. The old poet in whose forehead they drilled a nail in place of his tilak. Or the young Kashmiri who travelled from Delhi to Jammu in June 1997, and, at the Punjab-Jammu border, saw a photo of his brother’s bullet-ridden body splashed on the front page of Daily Excelsior.

I will tell that last story. Harud or no Harud.”

Many of these elite ‘intellectual’ separatists also unapologetically condone, if not justify, the rather crude and evidently provocative act of stone-pelting and even plainly stigmatize all Indian soldiers, dehumanizing them. Here’s what one well-known online Kashmiri separatist, Arif Ayaz Parrey, writes (the piece can be accessed here) — “We throw stones at them because we do not consider them human. If we begin to accept these killers, rapists and sadists as human, then what will be left of our hope in humanism?” Going by this disgusting logic, painting all Kashmiri Muslims with the same brush for the militants who killed Kashmiri Hindus should have also been regarded as justified and the human rights violations by Army personnel deserve no condemnation. Nitasha Kaul has romanticized stone-pelting, calling a stone “a weapon of the defenceless” and has shamelessly suggested organizing stone exhibitions to sensitize the world about the plight of the Kashmiris! Even Junaid sees nothing wrong in “the methods we (the Kashmiris) adopt in our (their) everyday resistance”, which certainly include stone-pelting. Many of these people even describe this post-militancy, stone-pelting phase as “non-violent”! Militancy that doesn’t target innocent civilians (which is not true for the militancy that had erupted in the valley) but does target soldiers and police personnel, who are meant to fight on behalf of the State, can be understood as a method of conflict resolution, but not pelting stones at soldiers, which will obviously instigate retaliatory firing if and when soldiers do not have the required apparatus to shield themselves and this practically will not end the military presence, also giving the soldiers a valid justification for their firings.

Shah Faesal once wrote — “…the crop of burger-fed, Armani-attired pseudo-revolutionaries has actually harmed Kashmir, more than anyone else.”

However, I must mention in the spirit of objectivity (I shouldn’t become what I accuse others of doing!) that even Geelani urged youths to not pelt stones and some of these Kashmiri separatists living abroad and using the Internet as a mechanism to propagate their pro-azadi views, like Basharat Peer from New York, do not dehumanize the Indian jawans as a collectivity.

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