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Kashmir And Demcracy

Even after the beheading of the Indian soldiers, the Indian Government seems to think that talks between Pakistan and India are a solution in themselves and will go a long way to resolve the Kashmir issue. But Pakistan needs Kashmir, preferably a festering Kashmir, where lots of people get killed and bombed. For it is the only thing that really holds Pakistan together today. And truly, nothing symbolizes better the absurdity of Partition than Kashmir. Nehru and Gandhi’s folly of accepting the division of the country on geographical-religion lines has come back to haunt India with a vengeance.

Secondly, Kashmiris from the Valley will not be satisfied by these talks unless it leads to a breakaway from India and a unification with Pakistan . As one nice Muslim lady from Srinagar told me one day: “we feel safer with Pakistan”. Whatever the Indian Government says, whatever some of the polls state, non-Arab Muslims all over the world often feel that their first allegiance is to Islam – not to their country of birth. This is not only true in Kashmir, but frequently amongst lower and middle class Indian Muslims. It is not that they are more wicked or unfaithful than any other person, it is just that their religion teaches them to look-up to another country – Saudi Arabia, where the Mecca is situated; to read, a scripture – the Koran – which is composed in another language than the one of their own birth; and on top of that a Scripture written 15 centuries ago for a people who were not Indian and which has never adapted to modern times.

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 may be slowly losing its grip on Kashmir and that the ground may be prepared for an agreement brokered by the US, which will give autonomy to the Valley of Kashmir – which will inevitably lead to the breaking away of the Valley of Kashmir from India and its uniting with Pakistan,. There are good, intelligent people in the Congress. Surely some of them would agree that this would be a tragedy for India?

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?

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.

It is not he only the 400.000 Hindus from Kashmir who had to flee their own homeland, who are under threat. It is not only the pilgrims of Amarnath, today even Hindu gurus are targeted, who defame them, make fun of them, and accuse them of lying. The Open magazine’s latest issue again targets Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whom millions of people in India hold dear.

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? 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.

François Gautier

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