#BoycottHaider. In the wake of #VishalBhardwaj’s brilliant, but anti-national film, which makes villains of Indian soldiers & heroes of terrorists, it’s relevant to have a good look at Kashmir.
I have been covering Kashmir as a political correspondent for nearly 20 years and it has always been my feeling that Kashmiris, from the humble sikhara to the High Court lawyer not only dislike India, but would want nothing better than be attached to Pakistan. But various Indian Governments have preferred to fool the public by saying that it was only a ‘tiny’ minority which wants independence, while the majority of Kashmiri Muslims are ‘fed-up’ with militancy. The frequent massive demonstrations in Srinagar for Separation have come as a slap to the face of the successive Government. The priests and attacks against the Armanath pilgrimage have also deflated the financial sham of the Valley of Kashmir, who has been subsidized for decades at the tone of thousands of crores each year. The anger of the Hindu pilgrims is not only about being denied basic facilities on the way to Armanath, whereas Haj pilgrims get royal facilities and subsidies, but also about the injustice of Kashmiri Muslims settling all over India and making business in India, while no Indian can buy land in Kashmir, without speaking of the disproportionate amount of MP’s which the Valley has.
Western correspondents (and unfortunately often Indian journalists) have lionized for three decades the Kashmiri “freedom fighters” and demonized the “bad” Indian army (notice how the Indian Press always gleefully reports suicides of soldiers in Kashmir or any army scandal). But they should do well to remember Sri Aurobindo, who 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 ! Because nobody cares to remember today that Kashmiris were almost entirely Hindus or Buddhists, before they were converted by the invading Muslims six centuries ago. True, today these Muslims in Kashmir have not only accepted as their own a religion which their ancestors had rejected, but they have also often taken-up the strident cry of Islam. Does any one remember too, that at the beginning of the century, there still were 25% Hindus in the Kashmir valley and that today the last 350.000 Kashmiri Pandits have become refugees in their own land, they who originally inhabited the valley, at least 5000 years ago, a much bigger ethnic cleansing than the one of the Bosnian Muslims?
It’s a common refrain today in most newspapers to say that since Independence, India alienated Kashmiris through years of wrong policies. But those who have been in close contact with Kashmir, even in its heydays of tourism, know for a fact that as a general rule, there was only one thing that attached Kashmiris to India, it was the marvellous financial gains and state bounties that they made out of tourism. But those Kashmiris who are now settled in India make no bones about where their loyalty lies. Talk to them, specially if you are a Westerner, and after some time, they’ll open their hearts to you; whether it is the owner of this Kashmir emporium in a five star hotel in Madras, or the proprietor of that famous travel agency in Delhi: suddenly, after all the polite talk, they burst out with their loathing of India and their attachment to an independent Kashmir.
Nowadays Omar Abdullah and others want us to believe that with a certain degree of autonomy, Kashmiris will be appeased. This may be true in most Indian states, who are often rightly fed-up with Centre’s constant interference in their internal affairs, but basically, there is only one thing which Kashmiris are craving for and that is a plebiscite on whether they want to stay with India or secede…The answer in the Kashmir valley, would be a massive “no” to India (98%?). And as for Abdullah, he would be quickly eliminated by the militants, who would immediately seize control of Kashmir and attach it to Pakistan.
The Indian security forces in Kashmir are accused of all kind of atrocities. #VishalBhardwaj emphasizes it with a heavy hand in his film #Haider. But this is war, not a tea party! If India decides to keep Kashmir, it has to do so according to the rules set by the militants: violence, death and treachery are the order of the day. And men are men: after having been ambushed repeatedly, after having seen their comrades die, after weeks and weeks of waiting in fear, one day, they just explode in a burst of outrage and excesses. It should also be understood that the hardline Sunni influence of Pakistan and even Afghanistan, has radicalized the once softer sufi side of Kashmir and that it’s a painful, deadly and uphill battle for the Indian army, which should have the support of Indians.