AFTER THE PARTITION of India and Pakistan, the unresolved fate of princely state of Jammu and Kashmir aggravated the situation between the two nations, and they went into an undeclared war with each other. After India took the case to the United Nations, the international organization mediated to put ceasefire into effect between the two belligerent countries. In the following years, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolutions in which not only was the right of self-determination of the Kashmiris people primarily accepted but it was also proposed that the people of Kashmir would be given an opportunity of holding a plebiscite.
It was assumed that once an impartial plebiscite in Kashmir is conducted according to the United Nations resolutions, peace would prevail in the state. More than seventy hard years have passed but this long-drawn promise has not been fulfilled so far.
On August 5, 2019 the Narendra Modi government in India decided to completely ignore the UNSC resolutions and the Shimla agreement. The Indian government abrogated the very agreement Article 370 of the Indian constitution which made the state of Jammu and Kashmir temporarily accede to India decades ago. When Modi was raising false hopes, his own government cut the internet service, transmission of TV, blocked cell phones and social media for the Kashmiri people. The embargo has now lasted ten days.
Background - Punjab:
During the decisive days of the partition, Indian leaders gave written undertakings and made conditional bids with both the Sikh and the Kashmiri Muslim communities in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. In the years following independence, the Indian leaders forgot their promises to Sikhs. Through the 1950s and 1960s the Sikhs realized that the train on which Nehru had sent them was disappointingly not destined to their homeland. Still during what is known as the green revolution - when India faced a food grain crisis and was forced to import food from other countries - hardworking Punjabi Sikh farmers industriously piled up stacks of grain and averted the national crises.
However, the Indian governments’ approach and the Sikh leaders’ vested interests have caused a prosperous Punjab to become a debt-ridden state.
• The land of Punjab was unfairly trifurcated and some of the regions where Punjabi speaking people were in majority deceitfully attached to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The demographics of Punjab were changed, the purpose of which was to decrease the importance of Sikhs in the state.
• The flow and distribution of the rivers of Punjab was changed to benefit the neighboring states at the cost of Punjab.
• Villages were evacuated to create a new city Chandigarh which even after half a century remains a bone of contention between Panjab and Haryana.
The Sikhs started protesting and consequently the Indian political elite became antagonistic towards the Sikh community. The Sikhs raised their voices and were labelled terrorists.
Finally, the most sacred place of Sikhism on the planet, Sri Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht was attacked and thousands of men, women and children were murdered in a ruthless operation by the Indian Army. Innocent individuals were targeted in the villages of Punjab by the state forces. Even after close to four decades, this wound on Indian democracy and secularism is still alive and throbbing. In spite of the devastation caused by Partition, the once prosperous Punjab has now become a debt-ridden state tumbling on all human indices.
Present – Kashmir:
After winning the 2019 election, Modi-led government has bailed out of the undertakings and promises with Kashmiris, as the previous governments did to Sikhs. In his recent address to the nation, Modi pledged that after the revocation of Article 370, Kashmir would progress rapidly, new state of the art airports, railways and roads would be built in the state, and the youth would be offered employment.
Such promises are catchy enough for BJP’s digital armies and its ‘godi’ media to go hyperactive on social media and on television. This is the segment of Indian media that propagates the narrative of Hindutva – a Hindu Rashtra, a nation based on Hindu laws and not secularism where all other minorities are second class citizens.
The truth of Kashmir, now apparent, is that for over seven decades the Kashmiris were bluffed with the lollipop of Article 370 and 35A. Except a few self-interested political factions, a large number of Kashmiris have always been against the oppression and cruelty of India. Indian Home Minister Amit Shah validated abrogating Article 370 in the Indian Parliament, saying that the Article was the biggest hindrance to the progress and development of Kashmir. However, according to world economic experts, even in this turbulent state of affairs, the financial indicators of Jammu and Kashmir are much better than those of Gujarat.
We need to ask:
The government of India would have us believe that an economic agenda is the only criteria to end the anguish and sufferings of Kashmiris. Such an argument posits that the Kashmir conflict has only been spinning around economy for the last seventy years. We need to ask if economic development is a substitute to freedom?
If so, why for decades has the Indian army been deployed in such a large number on the streets and in markets of the state? Why is the militarization increasing every year? Why are the dales and valleys bloody with the killings of innocents? Why are women raped? Why are hundreds blinded bypellet guns? Why are thousands missing through enforced disappearances? After every summer, the green chinar soaks up the blood spilt by security forces and turns fiery red in winters. This year too the Chinar will turn red but there would be an added blush of betrayal of promises - old and ancient.
With boots and bullets of the forces, Indian authorities are forcefully constraining the aspirations of Kashmiri people. Will the Indian government succeed in enslaving the Kashmiri people? Read the political history of any colonized people, the lesson we learn is that emotions cannot be suppressed, voices cannot be muted, and the people striving for freedom cannot be stopped.
Saba Pervaiz Kiyani is a freelance blogger, journalist and broadcaster.
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