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Indian Home Minister’s recent say; ‘Kashmir is, was, and will always be ours’ is not any different or new statement to the ears of Kashmiris. Since Indian forces landed on this territory in 1947, Kashmiris are used to such versions. Crown of India, Integral part are few more phrases that are most often used for erstwhile princely state – Jammu and Kashmir. However, history bears testimony to the fact that people of Kashmir have never taken such utterances seriously. There are mainly two reasons behind it. One, such statements are aimed to dissolve internationally recognized Kashmir-dispute, which is not possible as far as the resolve of people is concerned. Two, these claims time and again prove insincere and hollow.

Regarding first reason, had it been so easy to dilute Kashmir issue, it would have ended long time ago. Kashmir would never have simmered repeatedly after witnessing massacres, which compose its history. Even the horrifying bloodshed of 90’s could not make people submissive rather they have become more vocal about their demand as is evident from the present situation. Thus, there is no scope for spoken words in changing contours and dimensions of Kashmir-issue. Unless and until it will not be resolved sincerely and according to wishes of people, it will continue to disturb peace in sub-continent and keep on existing as sore in the body of Indian politics.

Coming to the second point that is my focus point also. Let us presume, Kashmir is what they call, their integral part, inalienable segment, crown etc. Nevertheless, the question is what makes it so? The answer is ‘mere rhetoric’. The succeeding regimes at the center have never moved beyond their interests and empty-talks vis-à-vis Kashmir. For them, Kashmir is an integral part because of land and resources not because of inhabitants. It is an integral part when it comes to garnering a vote, on the floor of UN assembly to bully neighboring country, and for making their people feel Kashmir-problem is “No-problem.” Other classes also make a profit out of this “Phrase.” TV-channels gain a good amount of publicity in the form of movies, hot debates etc. based on lies about Kashmir. In reality, people of Kashmir never felt themselves to be part of India because of the treatment they have received and are receiving.

In Kashmir, people continue to suffer having no end to their agony. They are always mal-treated for no crime. It is only Kashmir, where so-called disciplined forces use innocent as ‘Human Shield’. The conceiver of this abominable idea gets reward and ultranationalists derive sadistic pleasure, cross the limits of inhumanity by printing the designs depicting this incident on garments. Additionally,  people of Kashmir continue to become cannon fodder , lives of common people get consumed day in and day out, and there is no end to the dance of death, which significantly contribute to rising armed rebellion. It is important to note that there is existing a concept of ‘brain-washing from neighboring country’ among some Indians nonetheless Kashmiris are not so callow that they would get trapped in passionate discourses, but it is the situation that makes them go extreme. The Research scholar Manan wani is one such example who before joining militancy complained of questioning and mishandling by men in uniform thru his face-book handle. Questioning, harassing, vandalism etc only make a part of their adopted terror-creating strategy, now infamously called state-terrorism. The latter, however; has many forms and fresh subsequent firing incidents in Shopian on 27 Jan and 4 March, that left unarmed civilians dead and half-dozen families shattered is one such form. What furthers the pain of people is the impunity enjoyed by killers. In Shopian incident also, even the highest seat of justice-Supreme court stayed the probe against the Army officer involved.

Commoners apart, people associated with the fourth pillar of democracy – Journalism, are not spared. Highlighting and capturing the pain of people through a lens makes a journalist to languish behind bars for months. Next is a contempt that Kashmiris face in other states of India. It is outside the state when Kashmiris realize that they belong to so-called integral part. Wherever they go, they come under the radar for Kashmiri accent. Nobody trusts them. Everyone looks at them with suspicion. They often wonder about this unwelcome and sometimes doubt themselves. Many even face harsh handling, thus flattening the tall claims of ‘integral part’.

The People of Kashmir often tarred as fundamentalists, factually are loving, compassionate, peace- believers, and civilized. They believe in peace, provided it is given chance to prevail. They prefer amity to enmity, provided cordiality is extended to them. Humanity is in their blood, provided they would get human treatment. However, unfortunately, in every respect, rules, and laws for them vary leading to estrangement. Thus, before beating the drum of an integral part, the people at helm of affairs need to treat the Kashmiris as integral rather than harping on rhetoric. They need to ensure the protection of human rights in Kashmir.The rule and law must not change for Kashmir and its people and they must have the same freedom as people of other states have. Think tankers need to think beyond military approach and listen to grievances of people. Winning people’s trust must be the priority. Ruling hearts and minds should be the approach. Rather than compelling more youth to pick up guns, the creation of a favorable atmosphere where no one would think of gun is a necessity; this may somehow influence the lingering K-issue also. If they cannot do so and would keep on blaming neighboring country without rethinking their strategy, the situation can never improve. Their words would never transform into reality. Yes, land of Kashmir may be with them but not people.

Concisely, in Kashmir, there are only two options for India; either ‘Love’ the people of Kashmir or ‘Leave’ them and forget the ‘phrases’. Because people no longer want tyranny, they want to live freely. They no more want to live under the shadow of the gun. They want calmness but not eerie calmness. They want a life of honor, not slavery. Importantly, they now believe the rebellion against tyrants is God’s obedience and this belief cannot allow them to be chained in thralldom for long.

Zeeshan Rasool Khan, writes on current socio-political issues and can be mailed at mohdzeeshan605@gmail.com

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