“I Am not an Indian, I am a kashmiri”, contradicted a 15-year teenager named Azad in the suburbs of beautiful Kashmir valley.
The Reply- A Kashmiri or an Indian?
Replying to me in disdain, Azad claimed the above lines, making me wonder how and why such anti-nationalistic feelings were being born.
During my engagement as a part of “SADBHAVNA” ops, such encounters were a frequent occurrence. As the name “SADBHAVNA” itself means “Goodwill”, our operation was focused on infiltrating the mind of the local population through our helpful, compassionate and cooperative feelings.
(Indeed, this is a better version of infiltration, unlike that, which takes place from across the Line of Control! leading to incitement of hatred and loss of innocent lives )
These painstaking and laborious efforts were being undertaken to make them (the Kashmiris) feel like an integral part of our diversified nation. For we never leave any Indian behind, and it is our responsibility to guide our fellow brethren that have strayed from their path.
Nevertheless, the measure of success that we undertook would take certainly take time, perhaps decades. Like it took decades to reach the union territory of Kashmir, it will also take time to get to their hearts. However, now we intend to accept them as citizens, not only as anti-national elements.
Irony and the Trust Defeicit.
Isn’t it strange? In fact, what an irony…….” WE”…….” THEY”….. it has to be “US”, from the beginning and it will be one day for sure, despite the challenges. So we must exercise patience, just like it took them decades to start trusting and accepting us. We must also bear patience to witness the changes we desire to foresee.
Had it not been the opportunity provided to me by my profession, I would have never understood the unsaid trust deficit that exists in the valley. Moreover, this deficit is not only with the outsiders (as few Kashmiris prefer to call) but surprisingly also among the natives of the valley.
To be honest, very few people understand the nitty-gritty of this historical blunder and the legal disaster that the erstwhile prime minister Nehru had created. While promising to conduct a plebiscite in every public forum possible, PM Nehru took actions when he was not even entitled to do.
The reason being, the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was legally a sovereign state when it signed the instrument of accession. And under international law, a sovereign state that has not formally transferred power is entitled to make all decisions regarding its territory and people.
Read more about State sovereignty and modes of acquisition of a state here.
Kashmir and the Cold Breeze.
Nonetheless, it was all part of the great game of Britain and very well executed by Lord Mountbatten (the last viceroy of British India). We can’t change our past; what has happened has happened. But what we can change and focus on is the perception of the people of the valley.
People like Azad constitute only a handful of the populace, but they do exist. But the efforts of the government, the forces haven’t been in vain it has paid dividends, if I may say so. Furthermore, Kashmiris have shown the inclination to join the mainstream, partially because of the help provided and partly because they are tired of this violent and grumpy way of life.
Now, neither do they detest the military presence nor do they welcome them. So that is at least some development and, although minor, still a sign of progress.
Yet, the thoughts here are still as cold as the valley breeze, and the intentions could be as treacherous as the sharp mountain ridges of the Kashmir valley.
Nevertheless, to a large extent, there exists an environment of peace, though in pieces. Concerning the prospects of peace, a stark difference can be seen between the north and the south Kashmir. Moreover, peaceful co-existence and the level of acceptance amongst the locals to join the mainstream differs in these two geographical divisions.
South Kashmir, being more volatile due to infiltration, provides for the terrorist’s safe havens who do not let the tranquillity prevail, unlike in north Kashmir. But what worries me more is the boundary between the north and the south Kashmir and the divide among the people themselves.
Where does the solution of Kashmir lie for Indians?
Needless to say, the Kashmir conundrum cannot be viewed from one lens. The dynamics in Kashmir are localized and require specific solutions to particular problems at particular locations concerning one particular set of the populace. The intertwined mistakes of our political leaders, armed forces, locals and intentions of our mischievous neighbour cannot be solved with just one template.
We need to understand that Kashmiris do not need free computers. Instead, they should realize that they’ll lag behind if they don’t learn how to operate them. Then they won’t seek it for free alternatively would take the first step towards openness and would prefer to buy it. Perhaps we have given them so much importance that they now consider anything less a violation of their rights.
This leads to the formation of mindsets and communities that plague the mind of people like Azad. It pains my heart to see young, passionate, talented youth of Kashmir, swayed and brainwashed, unable to realize their talent and fulfil their potential.
It’s high time that they understand and are made to realize that they need us as much as we need them, you see !….. the irony….WE ……THEY …..! It’s high time that “a Kashmiri and an Indian” gets translated into “a Kashmiri is an INDIAN”.
Insights By- Krishna Kumar Shukla.
KRISHNA IS A SERVING INDIAN ARMY OFFICER WHO WAS DESTINED FOR IT SINCE HIS SCHOOL DAYS. HE HAS FIRE IN HIS HEART AND PASSION IN THE BELLY TO LEARN, IMPROVE AND GROW. HE FELL IN LOVE WITH READING AT A TENDER AGE WHICH MOTIVATED HIM TO REGULARLY PEN DOWN HIS THOUGHTS. HE KEPT HIS PASSION FOR READING AND WRITING ALIVE EVEN DURING TRAINING DAYS.
HE AUTHORED TWO BOOKS. “THE LOST FRIEND” IN 2012 AND A HINDI SHORT STORY TITLED “MAA NE KAHA THA” WAS AWARDED DURING HIS NDA TRAINING DAYS. KRISHNA LOVES TO EXPRESS HIMSELF THROUGH SHORT STORIES IN HINDI. YET FEELS HIS MUNDANE DUTY TO OPINE ABOUT THE ISSUES ON LIFE, SOCIETY AND GEOPOLITICAL ISSUES APART FROM HAVING A STRONGHOLD OVER MILITARY AFFAIRS.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND COOKING ARE ALSO HIS AREAS OF INTEREST. RECENTLY HE HAS BEEN TRYING HIS HAND IN PAINTING AND SKETCHING. HIS WORDS ARE BLUNTLY SUGAR-COATED TO CONVEY THE MEANING IN THE MOST DECENT POSSIBLE WAY.