kashmir
Original image courtesy : Vikar Syed

The discussion on what should happen with Jammu & Kashmir has always been an interesting one, with no feasible, sustainable solution that can ensure peace in the valley on the table. While as an Indian, one might think of the J&K for its strategic location benefits for the military purpose, and the utter pride to say that such beautiful heaven is present in my country. While thinking it from this narrow mindset, we often forgot to consider the opinion of the inhabitants of the J&K. They have been living in an isolated warzone for so long while facing human rights abuses on a large scale. The part of India, which we call heaven, has been deprived of any development. Other Indian states sharing a border with Pakistan and China does not have the kind of issues J&K have and are prospering. In that case, why has India failed Kashmir?

The BJP led government argued that Article 370 and 35A are the root cause of terrorism, to which I beg to differ. The provision of special status was following the conditions that J&K was facing. The conditions have not improved, and the status was withdrawn first, arguing that the status itself is not allowing the development and is responsible for the conflicts. Is not this like removing reservations, which is the result of casteism, saying that reservation itself is the cause of casteism? Can we see the future of backward people without the presence of reservations? Would not the rich castes get richer systematically in that scenario?

Similarly, the abrogation of Article 370 does not change anything, other than allowing corporates to buy the land from the poor people of Kashmir who are struggling to live their life. Rather than empowering people to start and sustain their businesses, this capitalist thinking may force them to shut their shop and move them into bonded labor in their homeland. However, it looks good for the government to have given rise to employment opportunities. On the other hand, Indian citizens may get to live in a fancy hotel run by a capitalist firm.

Kashmir is such a great tourist place that the inhabitants could have earned a hefty earning. However, constant insurgencies have stopped local businesses from flourishing, and now the government is introducing competition from the big players having money power. There is discontent among the Kashmiris over the decision, which I think is fair enough. On the other extreme, without peace in J&K, any corporate risking to invest in the land is still a question. We have also seen the BJP led government promoting the Kashmiri land in political rallies while asking for a vote. It is also argued that the ulterior motive is to increase the Hindu population in the region by allowing others to buy land. However, it is implausible that people will survive the harsh climatic conditions for a long time but still might fall prey to this selling point façade by the party.

Another failure is how the abrogation was handled, with a total disconnect from India and the arrest of several business people, lawyers, politicians, activists, etc. Even today, the presence of 4G is the privilege that inhabitants are banned from, to control the descent. The recent NIA raids are another instance of human rights violation, in which prominent human rights activist such as Khurram Parvez was also targeted, who are raising their voices. However, this is not new for the people of J&K. Few human rights groups argue that more than one lac people have died since 1989, while the official figures estimate the number of civilians killed due to insurgency as above half lac. This number is far more than the crimes committed by the militants’ group.

On the other hand, such atrocities by the Indian security forces are said to have been given rise to the number of people joining such militants groups, while India keeps accusing the Pakistan army and its state-sponsored terrorist outfits. We have also seen militant violence against Kashmiri pandits leading to their migration, to which we blamed all the Muslim inhabitants of the J&K, also resulting in discrimination of Kashmiri Muslims. However, does that justify the human rights violation by the Indian security forces and the NIA to force out the militants and separatist group?

A recent interaction with socio-political activist Mr. I. D. Khajuria (President of International Democratic Party), helped me think from the J&K people’s perspective, which provided me with a broader picture. Mr. Khajuria is a firm believer of J&K autonomy and a utopian view of J&K as an independent country, with India and Pakistan as allies to support, so that every stakeholder is content. However, given the relationship with Pakistan and China makes it impossible. He still believes that nothing is permanent, and the system will change. While this remains a long shot, he appeals to other fellow Indian citizens to stand by the people of J&K in their fight against human rights violations.

Akash R Gedam (PGP2 student at IIM Ahmedabad)


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