By K.N. Pandita
During past two months, former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha twice led a delegation of Delhi-based organization named “Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation” to Kashmir.
This group of “intellectuals” working on Kashmir for more than a decade includes some top ex-bureaucrats, diplomats, senior army and civil servants including former Army Chief, former RAW Chief and former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and others, all high profile personalities.
After the visit of Sinha delegation to Kashmir secessionists, – who sing to the tune of terrorist sources in Pakistan – it issued a statement-cum-appeal coinciding with the martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi, thereby indirectly purporting to add ethical weight to the content of the appeal.
Couched in carefully drawn phraseology, the statement conforms to the new political narrative of ‘post-truth era’. Therefore, it merits notice. So far, no Kashmir watcher has specifically reacted to it. Perhaps more voluble mainstream media has deliberately chosen to underplay the nuances of the statement and public reaction.
The appeal is meant to serve two purposes; (a) sensitizing “thinking citizens of Indian democracy” to the “agony” of “fellow brothers and sisters” in Kashmir (b) assuaging hurt feelings of Kashmiris.
The Statement makes us presume that “thinking citizens” of India are insensitive to the pain and agony of “brothers and sisters of Kashmir”. No cultured man can be insensitive to human suffering. The blame of insensitivity against citizens of India would be justifiable only if the Indians had not suffered bereavement on the martyrdom of thousands of their near and dear ones who laid down their precious lives while fighting externally sponsored insurgency in Kashmir. While our “intellectuals” have vowed to shed tears for the “brothers and sisters in Kashmir”, the fallen heroes of our defence and security establishment had also vowed to protect the countrymen, including the wailing “intellectuals”, from external aggression and internal subversion.
The dirge of these “intellectuals” is about the hurt feelings of Kashmiris. The appeal wants voice to be given to all our citizens that “this is their country as much as Kashmir is part of us”.
Does this appeal assuage the hurt feelings of Kashmiris or does it exacerbate them? The statement draws a line between “their” and “our”. This is the crux of the issue. This is precisely what the Kashmiris think and act upon. Kashmiri “brothers and sisters” say they have made sacrifices and suffered privations to make the Indian “intellectuals” understand that “this” (India) is not their country nor is Kashmir part of their county. The real pain of Kashmiris is that Indians refuse to understand them.
Therefore, will profusion of conciliatory rhetoric and mollifying mantras like “deeply distressed:, “deep concern”, “grave and unfortunate situation”, “emotionally wounded” etc. exuded by Sinha & Co cut ice with Kashmiris? Do the “intellectuals” believe their mindless entreaties will be effective in making their Kashmiri “brothers and sisters” deviate from the goal for which, according to their claim, more than a lakh Kashmiris have laid down their lives? Does not the appeal of the “intellectuals” rub salt into their wounds? The irony is that these “intellectuals” do not know that Kashmris know and understand their antics very well.
While exhorting the Indian nation to “do everything to assuage their (Kashmiris’) pain”, the appeal predicates the sentiment with one more subordinate clause of “even when we cannot undo their loss”.
This is to separate the event of last summer unrest in Kashmir from the decades old history of Kashmir secession. In taking a slice from the whole, the “intellectuals” have tried to delink the summer unrest from the entire gamut of the rising crescendo of ongoing civilizational conflict and crisis of our century.
A former foreign minister of India does not need to be briefed on the phenomenon of civilizational conflict. A former Army Chief of India does not need to be updated on the subtleties of proxy war, and a former RAW chief does not need to be convinced of the futility of pecuniary largesse he extended without solicitation to Kashmir secessionist leadership. If these venerable personalities now try to give substance to the theory of victimhood by profiling “Kashmiri brothers and sisters” as victimized fraternity, they hardly do justice either to their profession or to their conviction.
Conforming to ‘post-truth’ culture, the signatories to the appeal-cum-statement have made effort, albeit a crude one, of taking resort to filtered phraseology after the practice of Chinese foreign office that must perforce speak in dichotomy. To convey to Kashmiris that they (“intellectuals”) do not subscribe to the finality of the accession of J&K to the Indian Union, they have chosen the escape route in the phrase “Kashmir is bound by many laws.”
The import is placid double-speak (a) accession of J&K to the Indian Union is legal (b) law alone cannot bind J&K to the Indian Union. A little further “but only love and understanding will bind friends together”, says the statement. In other words, the statement conveys that if India does not show love and understanding then J&K cannot remain bound to India.
A State needs to protect the people before loving them. Leaving for a while the invasion of tribesmen on Kashmir in 1947, India could not protect the tiny Hindu religious minority against attacks by Kashmir fundamentalists-insurgents in 1990. Nevertheless, India did protect Kashmiri Muslim majority against attacks from Pakistan-sponsored terrorists and sacrificed precious lives of thousands of her valiant soldiers. What more show of love is expected from the Indians? Isn’t Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and its faithful upholding an expression of love and understanding? In Sinha’s idiom, “love and understanding on the part of India” means offering Kashmir to Islamists on a platter and then wait for a word of thanks, which, however, will never come.
The real import of the appeal by “intellectuals” to the “thinking citizens of the county” is to give Kashmiri “brothers and sisters” the freedom of torching school buildings, attacking police posts, damaging public property, looting banks, grabbing the properties of extirpated Pandits, blocking cultural activities, vandalizing their temples and shrines properties and breaking the State Subject Clause by extirpating the Pandits and cordially embracing migratory Muslim Sunni population from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Somalia etc.
Dispassionate analysis will show that the appeal-like-statement has done the organization/delegation more harm than good. Without the appeal, Kashmiris might have been disposed to give at least an iota of credit to the delegation. But with the appeal intentionally bandaged in dubious language organization’s credentials have become suspect. The fact is that the group has exposed its questionable credentials by issuing a misleading appeal which the Kashmiri consider another trap laid out by the Indians.
Kashmir events have made some believe, albeit erroneously, that democracy does not proscribe sedition against the state. Democracy does not rule out enforcing the will of the majority if the solidarity of the state is in grievous peril. The elected government in the US waged civil war against its own citizens only to protect the American State against the attempts of seditionists desiring to disintegrate the American State. The real democracy of the US gets reflected in the Gettysburg speech of Abraham Lincoln after the Civil War was won and adversaries were defeated. The magnanimous gesture shown by Lincoln towards the defeated opponents of the American State is the high watermark of democratic dispensation. It shows that integrity of the State has precedence over dramatic show of Gandhiism.
Our country is fighting a civil war in Kashmir precisely in the manner in which Lincoln fought the American Civil War. It is the Indian nation that has to be generous to the defeated and destroyed insurgents and not the rabble rousers posing as self-styled conflict resolving agents. The civil war in Kashmir asks for harsher response because it is sponsored mostly by outsiders and non-stakeholders. Any well-wisher of Kashmiris, sensitive to their pain, will advise them to give up the gun and rejoin peace-loving civil society.
(The author is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).