Source: Kashmir Herald
[Editor’s Note: Kashmir Herald is honored to have Mr. Francois Gautier write this article exclusively for Kashmir Herald.]
No doubt Mr Vajpayee is a nice man, no doubt he is well-meaning, no doubt he also embodies some of the better virtues of tolerance and ahimsa of Hinduism, but lately, he has all but surrendered Kashmir to Islamic separatism, not only losing elections there, even amongst his own people, but also saying that “democracy has won in Kashmir”. Democracy has won in Kashmir? Does democracy mean that a state where Hindus and Muslims used to live in harmony, where Islam had a gentler more tolerant face, has now become a haven for violence, intolerance, bullets and treachery? Is this democracy? Does democracy mean that 400.000 Kashmiri Pandits have become refugees in their own land, an ethnic cleansing without parallel in the recent history of mankind, worse even that in Yugoslavia ? It is also an irony that Mr. Vajpayee, whom the Press likes to call a Hindu “nationalist”, may have all but handed to Pakistan on a platter what has belonged to India for millennia.
I am a white man and a Christian, but I feel ashamed for India when I see in Sundays’ newspaper the photo of a Christian, and a white woman, Sonia Gandhi, along with two Muslims, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, royally offering to the latter the governance of Kashmir. Have Indians forgotten how Mufti Mohammed Sayeed surrendered the might of the whole Government when his daughter was taken hostage and he was a Union Minister? Does a country of 860 millions Hindus, inheritors of one of the most ancient civilizations on earth and today comprising some of the most brilliant people on this planet, need a Christian white woman and a Muslim to run what was once the cradle of Shivaism?
Western correspondents (and unfortunately sometimes Indian journalists) keep lionizing the Kashmiri “freedom fighters” and demonizing the “bad” Indian army. 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 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 are living in miserable conditions in camps near Jammu and Delhi, 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 or the Albanians in Yugoslavia?
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, Kashmiri Muslims never liked India. There was only one thing that attached them to India, it was the marvellous financial gains and state bounties that they made out of tourism. Even those Kashmiri Muslims 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 a 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 Mufti Mohammed Sayeed wants us to believe that with a certain degree of autonomy, Kashmiri Muslims will be appeased. This may be true in most Indian states, who are often rightly fed-up with the Centre’s constant interference in their internal affairs, but basically, there is only one thing which Kashmiri Muslims 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 Mufti, 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. 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. Amnesty International chooses to highlight “the Indian atrocities” in Kashmir. But Amnesty which does otherwise wonderful work to keep track of political atrocities world-wide, can sometimes become a moralistic, somewhat pompous organisation, which in its comfortable offices in London, judges on governments and people, the majority of whom happen to be belonging to the Third World. Its insistence on being granted unlimited access to Kashmir is a one-sided affair. Did Amnesty bother at all about the support given by the CIA to the most fundamentalist Mujahideen groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, support which led to the bleeding of Afghanistan today and the Pakistani sponsoring of terrorism in India? (Without mentioning the fact that most of the Western countries which today sit in judgement of India, raped and colonised the Third World in the most shameless manner; and after all it happened not so long ago).
And this leads to the next question: should then India surrender to international pressure and let Kashmiris decide their own fate? Well it all depends on the Indian people’s determination. Each nation has, or has had in the past, a separatist problem. Today, the Spanish have the Basques, the French the Corsicans, and the Turkish, the Kurds. Amnesty International will continue to lambaste India in its reports about human rights violations. But has Amnesty the right to decide what is right or wrong for each nation? Sometimes double standards are adapted by the West. Yesterday it colonised the entire Third World. Today; the United States, under the guise of human rights, is constantly interfering in other’s people’s affairs, often by force. It uses the United Nations, as it does in Iraq, in Somalia and Yugoslavia and is getting away with it. Can Amnesty International, the United States and the United Nations decide today what is democratic and what they deem anti-democratic and use their military might to enforce their views? But this is the trend today and it is a very dangerous and fascist trend. Will tomorrow the United Nations send troops to Kashmir to enforce Pakistan’s dreams?
Furthermore, there is today another very dangerous habit, which is to fragment the world into small bits and parts, thus reverting to a kind of Middle Age status, whereas small nations were always warring each other on ethnic grounds. It is the West and particularly the United States’ insistence to dismantle Communism at all costs, thus encouraging covertly and overtly the breaking up of Russia and Eastern Europe, which started this fashion. But this is a dangerous game and tomorrow Europe and indirectly the USA will pay the price for it: wars will bring instability and refugees to Europe and the United States might have to get involved militarily.
Can India get herself dragged into this mire? Why should India which took so long to unite herself and saw at the departure of the British one third of its land given away to Pakistan, surrender Kashmir? The evolution of our earth tends towards UNITY, oneness, towards the breaking up of our terrible borders, the abolishing of passports, bureaucracies, no man’s lands; not towards the building up of new borders, new customs barriers, new smaller nations. India cannot let herself be broken up in bits and parts just to satisfy the West’s moralistic concerns, although it does have to improve upon its Human Rights record, particularly the police atrocities. To preserve her Dharma, India has to remain united, ONE, and even conquer again whether by force or by peaceful means, what once was part of her South Asian body . For this she should not surrender Kashmir, it could be the beginning of the breaking up of India.
[Francois Gautier, who has lived in India for 30 years and is married to an Indian, is a French journalist, was the correspondent in South Asia for Le Figaro, France’s largest circulated newspaper. He has published Rewriting Indian History (Vikas) and Arise O India (Har Anand).]
NOTE : He is about to release his latest book The New istory of India this october 2008