An interesting story from history would be that of Nazi Germany. Now, when we hear the stories of Nazi Germany, we feel outraged, sad and disgusted not just by the dictator but also the people who unapologetically contributed to the killing of their fellow humans. We feel perplexed over how such a huge chunk of the population was suffocated to death mercilessly while the other half of the population remained silent. ‘Jews were traitors,’ they said, ‘Jews deserve to die,’ they said. They were dragged from their homes, men, women, children, all of them, and ruthlessly murdered. The angry German population filled with ‘nationalism’ and a desire to restore the old glory of Germany accepted with pride that Jews need to die; neighbours gave up on neighbours, humans on humans. And there it was, one of the saddest events in human history.
This year certainly has seen a huge number of tragedies, some killed by age, some by fanatics and some by their own people. And we Indians are very sad. We update our status and display pictures on Facebook in support of all the countries, all the sufferers in the world. But it seems that we feel the pain of anyone bleeding as long as they don’t come from ‘Kashmir’. ‘Kashmiris are all terrorists and deserve to die’. I read something like this somewhere in the comment sections of a post on Facebook. This article is not an attempt to prove or disprove whether separating Kashmir is the solution or not. This is an attempt to make you think. Do we even understand Kashmir? Do we even care to check the painful history of Kashmir before abusing anyone and everyone who talks of Kashmir?
We say Kashmir is an integral part of India. But what do we mean when we say that? Do we mean the land is ours? Do we mean the Kashmiri people are ours? If there is so much passion for keeping Kashmir, why haven’t we been able to make India an integral part of the Kashmiri’s mind? Why do Kashmiris feel alienated from Indians? We have been growing up hearing how Kashmir is obviously ours and anyone who talks otherwise is a traitor. I asked one of my fellow patriot friends who abuses ‘Kashmiri terrorists’ on a daily basis what he thought about AFSPA and he had no clue what that is. He only knows Kashmiris are influenced by Pakistanis and that the Indian army saved the ‘ungrateful Kashmiri terrorists’ from the flood. I asked another nationalist friend of mine about the ratio of militants to security personnel in Kashmir, to which he says, “That doesn’t matter. All Kashmiris throw stones at the army.”
I’m not saying that all of my patriotic friends don’t read any history before commenting. But it looks like a lot of them are conveniently ignorant, only there to add to the number of blind nationalists and to add to the collective anger of the masses. The complicated political matter that Kashmir is, has just become another face of Islamophobia in the eyes of so many Indians who choose to sit on their sofas and watch opinionated news and understand the matter only to the extent that it guarantees them pride and satisfaction while hiding the bitter truths of unfulfilled responsibilities of our own government.
It’s been more than a decade since Pakistan stopped mass infiltration of foreign militants into Jammu and Kashmir. Despite that, we are still facing a conflict. To put it in numbers, there have never been more than 250 militants in the entire state since 2008, and the number isn’t much higher even according to government officials. And we have sent 7,00,000 soldiers to fight them. Yes, 7,00,000. Kashmir remains the most militarised zone in the world, more militarised than Iraq or Palestine. And while our government claims it to be an internal law and order problem, the media can be seen describing it as a ‘Pakistan-sponsored proxy war’.
In 2008, 2010 and now in 2016, we have seen almost the entire Valley come out on to the streets and shout azadi slogans. We are seeing young boys ready to die in the name of freedom. We are witnessing children chanting slogans of azadi, women rushing out on the streets. All the influence of Pakistan? Really? Probably we need to start reflecting upon this issue more logically than emotionally. Maybe, we should ask the authorities how long their standard response will remain, “Centre rushes more troops…”
And for the fellow Indians who mostly start their comments with the words ‘terrorism’, ‘militants’, ‘Islam’, ‘radicals’, what do you (we) even mean when we say terrorism? In the case of Kashmir, it needs to be very carefully analysed who is terrorising whom. The valley of Kashmir is growing a generation that has seen killings of their loved ones on a daily basis. It’s high time we brought the behaviour of a typical Kashmiri youth under the lens of psychological analysis. Where is the anger coming from? Are we all somehow collectively responsible? Remember, hate begets hate. The insensitivity of the state and fellow Indians will only grow more rebels and more alienation.
Featured image for representation only. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta.