By Muqbil Asgar:
Dear Mr. Chetan Bhagat,
I hope this letter of mine finds you in sound mental health. I happened to stumble upon your letter to Kashmiris. I am grateful that you took the time and pains to write a letter to us. It doesn’t matter if you have quite subtly related the current vicious cycle of violence in Kashmir to the NIT scuffle which anyways has no relevance for Kashmiris. I am sure you aren’t unaware of the real reason behind the current mayhem, not that I am complaining about the propaganda and bigotry on display. But don’t you think it would have been wise of you to wait for some time before writing this letter as the great nation you have asked us to be a part of has blocked internet access in the valley.
You have tried to give an insight into the Kashmir issue to the less fortunate ones who don’t have the knowledge and wisdom you feel you have achieved. But you have quite cunningly missed out on the broken promises and deception the Kashmiri leadership had to face at the hands of the Indian state even after having opted for temporary accession to India against the aspirations of many of their people. You have also quite conveniently ignored the violence the Indian state has been perpetrating in Kashmir over last two and a half decades, be it the cold-blooded murder of civilians, the widowing of thousands of women, thousands of disappearances and custodial killings, torture, illegal detentions, fake encounters and what not!
The Kashmiri youth you have addressed have been brought up amidst curfews, crackdowns, and encounters. You are either an atrociously ignorant armchair intellectual or a cunning propagandist. I leave it to you to decide which.
You have talked about the size and population of Kashmir and argued how it would be impossible for Kashmir to survive. Let me inform you that this is the lamest of the arguments we have been given. I don’t blame you. Your ‘knowledge’ is based on nationalist whimsical fantasies. Kashmir is far richer in resources than many parts of India which still features among the poor nations of the world even after 68 years of its Independence. It would be better for you to leave the worries of Kashmir to Kashmiris and instead concentrate on the huge Indian population of over a billion, most of whom live from hand to mouth and don’t give a damn about what the fascist, armchair intellectuals of your nation write on social media.
Coming to the women’s rights part, isn’t it funny that you talk of women’s rights while conveniently ignoring the real reason behind the current mayhem in Kashmir which is that your holier than thou army personnel have been accused by a schoolgirl for sexual assault? Have you heard of the Kunan Poshpora mass rape by your army wherein an entire village, ranging from young girls to grandmothers, were (allegedly) gang-raped by the army of your sexist and casteist state? Well, I don’t expect someone blinded by bigotry, prejudice, and nationalism to talk sense, and for your kind information, Kashmiri women enjoy more freedom than many other Indian women ever can, like those living under the Khap Panchayats. A Kashmiri woman Parveena Ahanger has been giving nightmares to your mighty state.
Coming to the Pandit exodus part, let me make it clear to you that the common Kashmiri youth considers the Pandit exodus an unfortunate blot on the otherwise harmonious history of Kashmir. But the Indian state and her apologists have been abusing this exodus thing for the last two and a half decades without contributing an iota to the Pandits’ well-being or return. Let’s stop milking this exodus cow and do something on the ground to facilitate their return without chest thumping.
You have acknowledged that India has been inflicting atrocities when you write, “Terrorism is no solution, nor revenge, and retribution for Indian atrocities.” But, in the same breath, you have quite cunningly brushed it under the carpet of collateral damage.
Your fake concern is going to fool none here. Kashmiri youth are intelligent enough to differentiate rants from concern. But I feel sorry for you as you have been trolled, not just by the Kashmiri youth, but by sane Indians as well. I remember you had tried to fake concern for Indian Muslims, too, in past but, alas, you haven’t learnt from that mistake.
I am sure by now you might have realised that Kashmiri youth aren’t so naive that they can be given advice by any rightwing, self-proclaimed intellectual. It’s time for ‘Ghar Wapsi’ Mr. Bhagat. Please forget Kashmiri youth and get back to writing fiction.
Another oppressed Kashmiri youth