The Hard Facts: Can Kashmir Be The Catalonia Of India?

Next News Now Special Series – The Hard Facts on Youth Ki Awaaz

30-second summary: While Catalonia decided to make its independent decision, Kashmir is marred in a politics that has long failed its people, with the Indian state never facing the tough questions that concern the people of Kashmir. This is all that a 30-second summary gets you. Read the full 3-minute post below.

Catalonia, a place less known to mankind this side of the planet has been in the news a lot lately. Why? Because ‘Catalans’, or residents of ‘Catalonia’ demanded independence from Spain, and the Catalan regional parliament went ahead and declared that independence. The pro-Catalonia rallies stormed the streets in joy. The Spanish parliament, however, in a fit of rage and anxiety, went ahead and declared ‘full control’ over Catalonia.

What Does This Mean?

According to a recent report in the BBC, “it could include the firing of Catalan leaders, and the Spanish government taking control of the region’s finances, police and publicly owned media.” How did Catalonia reach this point? The BBC report details out further.

Ironically, this comes right after the day Kashmir marks as “Black day” in the Kashmir history. It is the day when the Indian Army landed in the valley in 1947. Many people in Kashmir, including several political leaders, have been demanding independence for the state – to make Kashmir an independent country, not abiding by the laws of India, or Pakistan – with its own constitution, leadership and rules.

Why The Demand For ‘Azaadi’?

Kashmir, an independent state, first faced external invasion in October 1947 from the armed tribesmen from the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Kashmir’s ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh did not have the ability or capacity to take on this invasion and hence, ended up requesting assistance from India’s armed forces on the condition that Kashmir would accede to India. The only condition was, the accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh was to be ratified by a referendum – or a public vote – right after the war – and both parties agreed on it. The only issue? Seventy years on, the referendum is yet to happen.

The Indian Army never really left Kashmir, and in the 70 years, roughly 70,000 people ended up dying in the protests and uprisings.

October 27, 1947, changed everything for Kashmir and its people – leaving them disappointed, outraged and feeling ‘betrayed’. And this is exactly why before we make an opinion on who is correct about the Kashmir issue, we should make an effort to read the history that Kashmir and Kashmiri people have gone through.

Why Kashmir Cannot Be Catalonia

There’s a simple way to understand: Catalonia had a state parliament that took a decision. To begin with, Kashmir’s legislative assembly is marred in politics between the Indian central government, separatist appeasement, public sentiment management and a lot more.

Politics is more about public sentiment than about solving issues realistically (bullet train over healthcare budget?). The Indian government which currently controls Kashmir clearly understands that the public sentiment favours the valley being a part of India. The previous governments understood this equally well.

The ‘seizing’ of Kashmir led to the longest armed struggle in the history of independent India, the rise of insurgent armies and the growth of a politics of hatred and war with Pakistan. Kashmir’s geography and India’s upside over it have also ensured that India’s military keeps a watch on Pakistan. India has also had a long standing reason for the referendum not to happen – the occupation of Kashmir by Pakistan (PoK).

The conclusions are as easy to derive as possible: Kashmir cannot be Catalonia until India addresses the concerns of the people living in Kashmir, and puts the issue of the “referendum” at bed, and resolves the Indo-Pak conflict over Kashmir.

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