Kashmiri Myths

young boy throwing stones in a riot in Kashmir

This child, if detained by cops would be abuse

Got really bugged by some of the reporting for Kashmir. While I am in favour of Kashmiris finding justice and joy and all that, I am not too delighted about my country being blamed for every sneeze they get. The Kashmiris and media are so busy talking about human rights abuses and all, that many things are unquestioningly assumed as the truth. Trying to gather here some of the ‘truths’ that come to mind. I call them myths.

  1. India is basically an evil country that invaded Kashmir. – Not true. Whether the Kashmiris had a fan club or hate gang with their own ruler, India certainly entered Kashmir on invitation. If the Kashmiris are blaming India because India didn’t support their unrest against their ruler, well….. dream on.
  2. Azad Kashmir is actually free – yes. They are named Azad – meaning free. That is about the extent of it. Strangely for “free” Kashmir, it isn’t possible to get government jobs, politics, etc without signing a statement accepting the accession of Kashmir to Pakistan. Yet another Pakistani inexplicable phenomenon. “Azad” Kashmir “allowed” to have “representatives” only if they say that Kashmir “acceded” to Pakistan.
  3. India has engaged in a genocide in Kashmir. – not true. The assumption here is that genocide actually involves the killing of a substantial number of people for belonging to some or the other race/place. Kashmir’s summer of rage had a death ratio that shocked India and got all kinds of people asking for accountability. On an average, about a person per day died. This was during unrest where Indian soldiers have been repeatedly accused of indiscriminate firing with automatic weapons. One death a day as an average.
  4. Indian troops engage in unprovoked firing. Sure. Possible. However, this can’t be called the whole truth. Indian soldiers get wounded in far greater numbers than the Kashmiris. Bullets kill, stones don’t. So obviously, the casualties are among the Kashmiris only. However, I can’t imagine a group of people firing live ammo unprovoked actually getting hit with stones more often than their victims got hit with bullets, which travel farther as well. This whole claim of unprovoked firing with automatic weapons, genocide, massacre, etc need to be examined for truth.
  5. A free Kashmir will be better than what they have. Yeah right. They have the Army visible and can’t do a thing. They are going to prevent the LeT from deciding what happens to Kashmir. Of course, the militants are very reasonable. Not a single Kashmiri objects to them. No one is killed. Reasonable. No reason to go around disagreeing with them. They can’t raise their voices against extremist criminals in their society living in a state solidly opposed to them, with one of the biggest Armies in the world present to protect against any consequences. A free Kashmir is not going to allow them any power. As though they are going to ask!
  6. A free Kashmir will be secular. Of course. Its easy to dream. Yet the reality is, when the militants killed the two Muslim girls, not a voice was raised till the separatists position was clear. The entire society’s conscience is outsourced to extremists, and they claim a free Kashmir will be a secular state.
  7. India must respect the separatists right to separate Kashmir from India. Isn’t that right, Mr. Geelani? Hurriyat wants freedom, hates India, yet its okay to arrest the boys on the street, but arresting the head honchos is blasphemy! If India is evil, why is there such great expectation to support your “pure” mission Mr. Geelani? Want everything. Appreciate none. So, Mr. Geelani, in over half a century of leading Kashmiris, what joy have you succeeded in bringing about? Oh wait, that is also India’s job. You only want the freedom. But wait a minute, Geelani, India is the greatest evil since sliced bread. Aren’t they SUPPOSED to be killing lots of Kashmiris? They are quite incompetent?
  8. Kashmir has a freedom struggle. Sure, they call it that and raise slogans and all, but what exactly it is that they have done that can be called a claim to freedom? Heck, they even want the existing government to facilitate their right to do such events. Many stones got thrown, many fiery speeches happened, many complaints got heard – all part of being a democratic country. The whole movement protested troops, got arrested, complained and protested to come out and play all over again. If India had actually said, okay, we are walking out, there were no leaders anyone trusted. There was no vision for the society. There was no readiness to fight their cause – the readiness was only to fight as long as no one really got hurt – AND the government was supposed to take care of that, while the protesting leaders didn’t even manage the protests (forget governing a country) in a way that attempted to plan for safety of the masses. That was the job of the government too – the well being of the people – assigned by the people, the separatists, human rights, media and everyone – while everyone did their best to harm. What freedom struggle?

I am not saying that the soldiers are innocent. I am not saying that they should not be punished. They should. Regardless of the status of Kashmir, Indian soldiers should be tried for crimes they commit.

But, so should other criminals.

When Egypt fell, there was this huge flutter on twitter, facebook and other social media. Kashmiris wanted their own revolution. But, when Egypt fell, there were no leaders. There were no agendas. Each man spoke his reality, not a narrative dominated by power brokers selling their lives for own agendas. It was the voice of truth, because each person spoke only what he knew. The Muslim Brotherhood got sidelined as surely as the government. The PEOPLE ruled.

On the other hand, we had a strike in Kashmir over Geelani being investigated over money laundering. What? India abused his right to launder money? They targetted him specifically? Actually, no. The Karmapa of the Tibetan government in exile and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan were also came under the scanner. The Karmapa was actually investigated far more intensely than Geelani. The Tibetans must have forgotten to throw stones and bring their own lives to a standstill and blaming the government for daring to enforce laws. Kashmiris were the only people to damage their own livelihoods over a personal investigation of their leader – a futile fight against a government for being ‘evil’ enough to question anything about their leader.

Kashmiris have great resentment when Indians call them militant supporters. Hmm. So, when was the last time they refused support to militants? Again, the expectation is that they will do whatever they want to hit at India, but if India hits back, its evil.

A revolution Egypt style is impossible. At worst, in an extremely extreme situation, there will be a transfer of power among tyrants. Most likely a case of jumping from frying pan into fire.

There is a lot of suffering that has brought Kashmir to this illogical, self-destructive point. However, having a reason for insanity doesn’t make it sane. If Kashmir wants a future beyond this limbo, they first need to start thinking coherently. If they want freedom, where are the plans for what they will do with it? For how they will manage? Somehow, they think throwing stones will fix all that. Freedom will happen when they do nothing beyond proving their extreme unreliability in maintaining peace? If they think unrest will make India free Kashmir, they are crazy. If India loses all love for Kashmir, the atrocities may increase, but one thing is for certain – the more anti-India Kashmir gets, the more it will become the last thing India will want as a neighbour outside its borders where they can’t control things.

The fact of the matter is, no one is thinking. There is grief, sure. But what to do about that grief has been so thoroughly hijacked by forces invested in profiting from their unrest, that they don’t even wonder why they are doing what they do. Over and over again, doing the same thing, expecting different results. Soldiers shoot when they get overwhelmed with crowd control. Day after day protesting previous deaths, creating new ones. Even rhythm. If protests went on for another three months, it would be another 80-100 deaths. If protests happen this year, same story. Somehow, evil India is expected to value the lives of Kashmiris that the Kashmiri leaders consider disposable.

It there is  a change, it can’t be credited to the separatists. Troops got more careful, people got exhausted of protesting. Still, the separatist trend continues. When the separatists finally condemned the deaths of those girls, they backed it up with – you guessed it – a protest. A women’s group in Srinagar had also protested peacefully and without incident, but the separatist protest again ended with one injury when protesters threw stones at soldiers in a protest against killings by militants. This is the reality of the separatist protest phenomenon – it is utterly devoid of humanity – even a soldier killing in hate has emotion. It takes a special kind of dead soul to send people to face deaths, but never lead them from the front. The injuries and deaths of Kashmiris bring about no attempt by the so called leaders to avoid them. They only increase in value as a tool while India – “the butchers” – is expected to show compassion. No one inside Kashmir thinks this is illogical – that the villain is expected to be more compassionate than the hero. On the other hand, it is an existential statement on whom the Kashmiris turn to in trouble – even as blame. No one told the separatists that people were getting killed and to protect Kashmiri lives when they planned. They stood with their stones in hand in front of people they call butchers who were armed with automatic weapons and threw stones expecting their lives to still be protected.

Sure, soldiers were wrong, but who has it on his conscience that people were incited to protest in full knowledge that they would face bullets? Kashmiris call these people leaders. They are the bright future of an independent Kashmir. This isn’t how the Egypt revolution was. The people weren’t protesting deaths that were a consequence of their protests. They had a problem and were bringing the government down. The deaths were a sorrow, but not a propaganda tool. They didn’t have leaders selling dead bodies for articles in the media. We barely know of the suffering of individuals – publicizing it was never needed. They weren’t fighting the media war. They were claiming their freedom.

Kashmiris think India wants to hold them by force. Possibly. But frankly, there hasn’t been a movement for freedom at all, though many people have had tantrums and sulks over it for years. It has only been anarchy that profited a few. Do you expect any Egyptian screamed about human rights if their people got arrested? Did they expect the government to send them out so that they could protest? No. They stopped acknowledging the government including stopped expecting anything from them other than stepping down. This is something the Kashmiris are incapable of – including separatists. They don’t want to not expect India to accommodate their comforts even as they fight to free themselves of this tyranny. Thus, they can only sabotage and call it a freedom movement, but freedom cannot emerge from it, because no one quit expecting the current government to deliver.

This is a typical dog in the manger attitude. The separatists have their families living their lives. India feels sad, but has a rich existence beyond the Kashmir issue as well. It is only the Kashmiri common man who is kept in a perpetual limbo, fed on tales from history and incited to demand justice for every injustice of the past before he can live. That is a big burden. It is a burden the separatists and militants will never allow Kashmiris to put down. It is also this burden of constantly reliving the pain that sends people blindly into further danger.

I would be happy to see Kashmiris taking charge of their country, if that is what they truly want, but they haven’t actually made any move in that direction. They can’t even manage to have a coherent leadership with some alignment of objectives. The only thing they have been doing is creating unrest and damage to their own people. The only people to profit from that are people who don’t suffer in it, and people who gain power from it. The rest are pawns.

PS: Breaking another myth. Kashmiris or the “oppressed masses” aren’t the only ones whose protests get quelled by force. The BJP’s flag march was stopped by the state government – no appreciation for that, of course – India does nothing good. This morning, another BJP protest was lathi charged with “at least” 50 injured. If the numbers aren’t as overwhelming as those in Kashmir, well forgive them for not parking themselves on the street everyday. Uh, Arundhati, any comments? Elite Hindu Brahmin capitalist something or the other getting lathi charged? What happens now to your model of India? They are doing the same as Kashmiris are – protesting government policies. That isn’t a freedom struggle either.

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About the Author

Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

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