When we label all of them as Pakistani agents, separatists and militants we generalize and marginalize the already suppressed stakeholders of an age old dispute- The people of Kashmir.
As videos of stone pelting and casual abuse and assault of army men go viral, hate and anger as initial responses do far more damage than good. The people of Kashmir, have been largely treated as disputed property by the two arch rivals- India and Pakistan.
When Pakistan cannot measurably control its internal territorial problems, nor suitably administer Azad Kashmir, its interference in the valley is more than just condemnable. The proxy war and financial incentives to disrupt the valley from across the border is hardly acceptable. The use of communal propaganda to further their claims over a region, which does not belong to them, is a regressive tactic to divide and rule.
For these reasons, India must be aggressive and strong willed against Pakistan. India, must force itself to be stronger than fringe elements that can disrupt law and order. However, while addressing the problem, India must bring with it, the peace with which she was born.
Celebrities scream “anti-national” when stones are pelted (maybe rightly so) but, it is hypocritical that such “true Indians” aren’t vocal about the pain of the disenfranchised Indians of Kashmir. To label ordinary carpenters,labourers and students as terrorists or separatists might seem right to the Indians stuck inside the bubble of freedom. To provide courage and to stand by our army is essential. Yet, such strength and glorification of the actions of the Army need not be at the expense of the people, they are meant to protect- The people of Kashmir.
When we limit our perspective to the anger against the army, while actively excluding the voices that need to be heard, we will never solve the problem that plagues the valley. When we claim all disturbances are by Pakistani agents, we will never ask ourselves why thousands of people instantly gathered on to the streets when a terrorist was killed. We will neither ask ourselves why only 2% of the same population gathered on to the streets to cast their vote. We will not care to find out about the young women and innocent children who were blinded by pellet guns. We will not dare to track the identities of the many missing people of India. We will not sympathize with the kids that are being denied basic education. We will ignore the largely unemployed adult population and we will not bother to empower the woman, who are confined to their homes in fear of their safety.
Its time India realizes that the dispute with Kashmir is not, who will govern, but ‘how’ will we govern. The problem in Kashmir is the unanswered hopes and aspirations of the youth, the lost dreams of the old and the hateful perception of humanity that young children are growing up with.
However, to the people of Kashmir, one can only preach the power of patience and peaceful persistence, to be provided with what they have been denied-their rightful ambitions and desires.
For even if they hope for any change, they must look Southwards to Delhi. This is because only India can provide to the teenagers education, the youth with jobs and the old with safety. Kashmir needs India, as much as India wants Kashmir.
India brings with her, Tamilians and Punjabis who have largely different cultural traits. India brings with her, Hindus,Sikhs,Christians and Muslims who can co-exist. India brings with her an accommodative democratic set up, which has the power to lend its ears to the voices that need to be heard. India brings with her plains and deserts with its share of mountains and rivers. India in every way can accommodate the beautiful, picturesque Kashmir.
However for the people of Kashmir to feel at home, the valley should be remembered by Indians not just as a state that belongs to us but, must be remembered for the Kashmiri shawls, the Basmati rice, the dry fruits, the rich contribution to Urdu literature, the vibrant culture and beauty of the valley and its people. Kashmir’s ‘saffron’ should be the ruling Government’s agenda.
India, cannot afford to neglect and suppress the people and force them to listen to her, rather India must be the one that listens to the echoing voice of pain and distrust from the valley of Kashmir. For that, India, has to bring to the valley of turmoil and bloodshed, the peace with which she was born!