120 Days And Counting: Kashmir’s Identity Remains Under Siege

“Gar firdaus bar roo-e-zamin ast, hami ast o-hami ast o-hami ast.”

“If there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.”

These are the famous lines by the 13th century mystic poet, Amir Khusro. These lines were repeated by the fourth Mughal emperor, Jahangir, when he first saw the beauty of Kashmir.

Undoubtedly, if he got to see Kashmir at present, he would probably say, “There were people dying everywhere getting massacred in every town and village, there were people being picked up and thrown into dark jails in unknown parts, there were dungeons in the city where hundreds of young men were kept in heavy chains and from where many never emerged alive, there were thousands who had disappeared leaving behind women with photographs and perennial waiting, there were multitudes of dead bodies on the roads, in hospital beds, in fresh martyrs’ graveyards and scattered casually on the snow of mindless borders.”

I hope you all are quite familiar with the condition of Kashmir right now. Well, as an average Indian, I am not supposed to say a word about what I know but anyway, I can write, at least here.

A scene from Srinagar. Civilian life has been dotted with the presence of armed forces for decades in the valley, serving as a pressing reminder that the state is under constant siege. (Photo: Kashmir Global/Flickr)

First of all, I would like to take you all to 1947 and recapitulate the history of Kashmir and Article 370.

In 1947, we ushered into independence and freed ourselves from the shackles of servitude and subjection after more than 200 years of vivisection by the British. But unfortunately, our country was partitioned, the British had already fanned the flame and divided our people on communal lines.

After this partition, we were left with what we call India, our motherland. Our national leaders with their unparalleled political acumen decided that we should be strong militarily so that foreign agencies think twice before trying to sabotage the unity of India. Our administrative power should be streamlined in order to enable it to see that the guilty are immediately brought to book.

Last but not the least, our international image also needs to be refurbished and our policy of non alignment should be truly non-aligned. Clearly, our leaders focused more on maintaining unity as it is rightly said that, United we stand, divided we fall.

Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel worked a lot towards this direction. He put herculean efforts in merging the princely states with India. The most irksome of all are believed to be Hyderabad, Junagadh and Kashmir.

Hyderabad was annexed after full fledged war with the Nizam of Hyderabad, Junagadh was supposed to join India as it was a Hindu majority state but its ruler being Muslim planned to join Jinnah’s Pakistan and this infuriated Patel. Patel was not at all interested in Kashmir as the majority was Muslim and it was understood for Kashmir that it would go with Pakistan.

Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir, wanted to remain independent but suddenly Pakistan attacked and the whole picture has changed. Hari Singh asked for help from India. Patel being extraordinarily scrupulous, asked Hari Singh to sign the Instrument of Accession and he signed it but on the condition that Kashmir would be an autonomous entity and there would be laws which limit the powers of Indian parliament regarding the matter of Kashmir.

On October 26, 1947, Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession. In 1949, the Constitution of Kashmir or Article 370 of Indian Constitution was drafted. In 1954, Article 35A was added to it and finally in 1956, it came into force.

Gradually, the ideology of fundamentalism based on obscurantism or may I say, Wahhabism, took over Kashmir and terrorised it.

As a result, the Armed Forces Special Power Act was imposed on Jammu and Kashmir in 1990. In 2015, Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party entered into an unholy alliance with BJP which in turn resulted in making Mufti, a Chief Minister of Kashmir. By 2018, the BJP had cut ties with the PDP and President’s Rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2019, BJP came back to power at the centre with breast thumping victory. The abrogation of Article 370 and 35A was clearly mentioned in their manifesto. So, they did so without consulting any Kashmiri, not even politicians like Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

For the first time, BJP kept their promise to the voters. They held a security lockdown in Kashmir so that no one could come out of their houses and question the government, they banned the media so that the Kashmiris couldn’t reach out anyone for help and now, they are petrifying Kashmiris by conducting atrocities on regular basis and we as responsible citizenry of India won’t say a word until amd unless some brutal pictures from Kashmir function as little jabs of electricity, shocking us into action.

It is an irony that for material resources like land, forest, soil and minerals, human resources like human energy, intelligence and the inherent goodness of man, etc. sold themselves out.

Today, governments are busily engaged in armament race. Every country spends millions for inventing or possessing destructive weapons but none spends a fraction of it in preventing such actions and maintaining human rights.

Plato and Aristotle postulated an idealistic theory of state in which the state was viewed as a moral institution essential and natural for moral development of the individual. The Renaissance emphasised the dignity of man who was endowed with reason and was the master of his destiny. The divine right theory of state was replaced by the social contract theory, propounded by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau.

The American Declaration of Independence, 1776 asserted, “we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.”

The French Declaration of rights of man, 1789 claimed, “men are born free & equal in respect of their rights.”

These ideals led to formation of human rights which are suppose to be universal, inalienable, interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. But what about the human rights of Kashmiris? Aren’t they human?

When the language has been butchered and bled out of meaning how do we understand our power and duty to stand against the wrong?

Today, freedom means occupation, democracy means neo-liberal capitalism, reform means repression, words like empowerment and peace make your blood run cold.

It’s high time for all of us to call a spade, a spade. Wake up! Please don’t let them change the definition of humanity, open the curtain of your spirit.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Getty Images.
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