Hindu India stretched its hand towards the Valley of Kashmir ravaged by floods. And it is laudable. But will it change anything to the fact that most Kashmiri Muslims feel they do not belong to India? I doubt it for one. The article below should serve as a reminder of the hard reality of Kashmir.
KASHMIR, A FOREIGN COUNTRY?
Sri Aurobindo wrote in 1940: “in Kashmir, the Hindus had all the monopoly. Now if the Muslim demands are acceded to, the Hindus will be wiped out again.” (India’s Rebirth, p. 220) How prophetic ! Today, if a Hindu wants to undertake a pilgrimage to one of the most ancient shrines in the history of Hinduism, Amarnath, he must do it under heavy police and army protection, and at the risk of his life. It is as if, not only he is going to a foreign country, but also to a hostile foreign country.
The frightening thing is that the writ of the Central Government is gone in Kashmir; stringers who hail from the Valley, report a distorted picture from Srinagar and nobody finds anything to say. EveryTV footage shows crowds waving Pakistani flags and nobody objects. Do you know that Kashmir is the most subsidized state in India? That every time the PM goes there, whether from the Congress, or the BJP, thousands of crores of subsidies are announced? Since 1989, all government officials in the Valley of Kashmir, while they hardly work in the year because of strikes and curfews, get their pay checks? It makes no difference to the fact that if a referendum was conducted, at least 85% of the Valley of Kashmir would opt to be attached to Pakistan.
The truth is that India is slowly losing its grip on Kashmir and that the ground is prepared for an agreement brokered by the US, which will give de facto independence to the Valley of Kashmir. Unfortunately, in Delhi amongst journalists and intellectual, you will find many who will say: “so what? India is a big country, we can do without Kashmir”.
This is why we have to examine why is it important that India retains Kashmir?
The most obvious reason is that Kashmir is of extreme strategic importance to India. If Kashmir would fall out of India’s hands, New Delhi would be surrounded by three hostile nations who strategically could swoop down from a height: Tibet, which was once the peace buffer between India & China; Nepal, which is de facto fallen in hostile hands: and Kashmir, the gateway between the Middle East and Asia.
Secondly if India allow Kashmir to go, why not Manipur, why not Tripura, or even Tamil Nadu, which has Dravidian aspirations? Many countries in the world face separatism problems, whether France with Corsica, or even Britain with the Falklands, which is thousand of miles away. Why should India let go of Kashmir, which has been culturally, and physically part of its body for at least 5000 years?
Finally, Kashmir is the cradle of Shivaism, thousands of yogis, gurus, sannyasins, have prayed meditated, performed tapasaya in this holy land and for that reason only, it should be sacred to India.
Part of the blame for the present apathy of Indians for the deteriorating situation in Kashmir, must fall on the Press, particularly the western media, which has always maintained that Kashmir was a “disputed” territory. Many of us journalists know that since the mid-eighties Pakistan encouraged, financed, trained and armed Kashmiri separatism. But Mark Tully, for instance, who is revered in India for his ‘fair’ reporting always made it a point to say: “India accuses Pakistan to foster separatism in Kashmir”; or :”elections are being held in Indian- held Kashmir”; or “Kashmir militants ” have attacked an army post, instead of “terrorists”. All the other foreign journalists, yesterday and today have followed the BBC’s benchmarks.