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Kashmir has been continuously ravaged by many outside forces for more than four centuries. While the barbarity and oppression has failed to dampen our unique spirit of survival, it has proved a nemesis for all the oppressors!

Dictionary defines nemesis as, “The nemesis of a person or thing is a situation, event or a person which causes them to be seriously harmed especially as a punishment”. All cruel and oppressive persons, nations and countries always meet their nemesis in the end. This has been a global phenomenon. Most well-known nemesis historically has been Moses to Pharaoh who had mercilessly oppressed the enslaved Jews. He was brought up in Pharaoh’s own house and ultimately proved his undoing as ordained by God. During last four centuries Kashmiris have been subjected to merciless oppression by various outside rulers. The Mughals were the first to capture Kashmir through treachery after having been defeated repeatedly by the Kashmiris. However, in the end they met their nemesis and totally disappeared from the sub-continent. Similarly, the Afghans from Kabul exceeded all limits of oppression. They made the life of Kashmiris miserable. However, Kashmiris survived their onslaught and are still there! But the Afghans have been suffering the worst oppression in their entire history. The Russians and the Americans have reduced their country to almost rubble! The Sikhs were supposed to be the cruelest. They had fixed the price of a Kashmiri to just few rupees! Finally, the Dogras held Kashmiris as their vassals for more than a century but in the end their empire too met its nemesis and they as royal rulers virtually disappeared. However, Kashmiris continue to be as strong as ever, with no diminution in their resolve to survive and live as a free people.

After the partition of the sub-continent engineered by the British to keep a hold on a territory which they were losing after 200 years of rule, the Kashmiris landed themselves in a Gordian knot of a dispute between their two neighbours. Neither of their two neighbours was interested in their welfare. They did not care for the people but wanted the prized land known as the heaven on earth! The western powers that engineered the whole dispute would never like it to be settled as it helps them to milk both the countries which have sizeable populations below the poverty line! All these seventy years instead of persuading them forcefully to settle the problem, they have been selling them weapons! Both the countries have used Kashmir to settle their scores with each other. The tussle between the two has caused loss to both causing the poor on the two sides to suffer. In the meantime, both the countries have exploited the natural resources of the disputed land of Kashmir for their own advantage and profit leaving the original owners high and dry!

For last four years or so, the Kashmiri Muslims living on this side of the divide are facing a serious threat to their very existence. The communal elements from the mainland are bent upon reducing them to a minority. Youth are being slaughtered and property destroyed on a continuous pattern. The alienation of the people has reached an extreme probably beyond redemption! A very important political leader Yashwant Sinha when asked in a NDTV interview whether India is losing Kashmir replied that the question of losing does not arise, India has already lost Kashmir and it is being held merely by the dent of its army! According to him an important government functionary had told him that the new strategy of the present Delhi rulers is to use the total state power to completely destroy any rebellion in Kashmir!

However, oppression has never succeeded in subduing the urge for freedom. One of their leaders late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was keen to settle this bleeding problem and had taken a number of initiatives. His doctrine of solving the problem within the circle of humanity was workable. A number of initiatives were taken during his time even though these were scuttled by some fanatics during the Agra Summit. One would have thought that after taking over power the party would have gone for a decisive solution of the decades old festering problem of Kashmir. They had the support of the entire Hindu vote behind them. Unfortunately, for short term gains they preferred the reverse. Incidentally, the ruling party owes its origin to Kashmir. The 1951 Jammu agitation for total merger of the state with the Indian Union gave birth to the party. They still have time to make the dramatic change. Failing this, Kashmir, like its other oppressors may prove a nemesis for them.

Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir

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