The Kashmiri Oppressor and Oppressed
For those not fully vested with background knowledge about Kashmir, a brief historical perspective will help to explain this cover. There are a few myths that need clarification and a few important questions need to be answered.
Myth 1: Kashmir only has an Islamic past
Kashmir has documented history of thousands of years. The origin of the word Kashmir is in the Sanskrit words Ka (meaning water) and Shimera (meaning desiccate or dehydrate) and as per the Nilamat Purana, the name was given because the valley came into being from the desiccation of a large lake. Kashyapa Rishi was the architect of the desiccation plan and so many reason that the name Kashmir came from his name. Kashmir was a known seat of learning but Kashmiris were also brave Hindu warriors. The great king Lalitaditya Muktapid (724-761 A.D) conquered territories in much of India and also established governance in large parts of the rest of Asia. Till the advent of the 13th century, Kashmir was known as a home of Hindu philosophy, religious scriptures, mathematics, sciences and art. The soil, waters, air and nomenclature of places in Kashmir still contain a pervading essence of this history. Weaker kings in the 13th and 14th centuries left room for invaders and in the 14th century, a weak king and the indifferent Hindu population of that time brought successive invasions and the advent of Islam. Subsequently, Hindus were ruthlessly persecuted and murdered in the reign of the Sultan Sikandar and other rulers like him. The demographics of Kashmir were comprehensively altered through genocide to the extent that only a proverbial 11 Hindu families remained. Yet, there were subsequent periods of relative religious tolerance which helped many Hindus to return and created a composite culture where the Kashmir society contained the followers of more than one religion. The Sikhs took over Kashmir after a period of despotic Afghan rule and during the 19th century and till mid 20th century, Kashmir was ruled by Sikh and then Dogra Hindu kings. Kashmir therefore has a composite religious history with rulers having been aboriginal Kashmiri Hindus (in most part), Muslims from Afghanistan, Moghuls, Sikhs and Hindu Dogras.
Myth 2: The spurts of violence in Kashmir are spontaneous and organic home-grown
Near the half-way mark of the 20th century, democracy came to the valley through its accession to India. The areas of Jammu and Ladakh were combined to form a state within the Republic of India and while creating a government, hegemony of the Kashmiri Muslims from the valley was established to appease Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. Provisions were made of a special Article 370 in the Indian Constitution to protect this hegemony and to satisfy Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. This Article 370, combined with hundreds of millions in grants through the decades and a policy of financial appeasement to deal with secessionism “manufactured” by their various leaders on the basis of religion brought about a sense of entitlement in the Muslim majority population of the valley. Accordingly, the gameplan has been to keep a pot of “grievances” boiling and milk India, a couple of neighboring countries and some religious states for enormous funds and other resources, without creating a resident output based economy. Nothing changed even after they forced exodus on hundreds of thousands of Hindus from Kashmir in 1990 through planned, targeted and gruesome violence. And every time when it seems that a semblance of normalcy is returning, which will make demands on the Kashmiri elite to make an honest living and put a cap on the dole money, the cycle of violence is restarted as is happening at present, in 2010. If it only appears that more Indians will establish business base and travel more to Kashmir and worst, if the return of the internally displaced Kashmiri Hindus seems somehow possible, the violence is strategically peaked. The unlimited fund supply, on ground organizational network, paid stooges and “ideological” sympathizers ensure that not only is a violent campaign executed ruthlessly, but it also has a sophisticated PR front-end and receives the best media coverage possible. It is quite clearly evident and well known through intelligence and other documented sources that violence in Kashmir is pre-planned and involves several foreign countries that are tapped for finances, mercenaries and other fighting resources.
Violence of 2010 and 1990 A comparison
The campaign of violence in 2010 is similar in scale of participation and visibility but otherwise markedly different from the violence experienced in 1990. The violence in 1990 resulted from a plan that had been more than a decade in the making. A campaign of terror and guns were central to its execution. The forced exodus of 400,000 remaining Kashmiri Hindus which was one of the purposes of the campaign was achieved through selective but gruesome killings followed by various machinations orchestrated on a most fearful night of terror. Circumstances were created so that a pliable Government of India would remove from action the man who could have solved the problem then and there; ex-Governor Jagmohan. Subsequently, gunmen, including a large contingent from Pakistan ruled the roost for several years but trouble started brewing between the ethnic Kashmiri and foreign gunmen. Also, the local elite who had earlier been powerful agents in the creation of the grand plan of violence were not happy that common folk with guns held more power over the situation than they did. So they let the Indian military deal with the terrorists and the power of many guns was silenced. Post 9-11, the international community too was strongly against the specter of religious terrorism and that factor combined with a fatigued population after a decade of gun violence caused a lull in the violent activities of the Islamic separatists. At this time the Indian Government became complacent while the separatists devised a new strategy which would be more in tune with the times. Guns were kept in the background as an army of stone pelters was made the face of the separatist campaign. Young people and even kids were pushed into situations of confrontation which were a recipe for death and disaster, with one thing leading to another in an escalating sequence of events(http://www.shehjar.com/list/121/1367/1.html). Property was burned and destroyed with impunity and comparisons were sought to be created with the situation in the West Bank and Gaza. How this violence was most different from that in 1990 was in the degree of sophistication and organization with which the propaganda machinery became active over the web, in the media and at protest locations even outside of Kashmir and India.
The Propaganda Machinery; Its purpose and functioning
While the situation in the valley seems to be easing slowly, the pace of activities of the propaganda machinery outside of the valley is picking speed. Groups of people are gathering in various parts of India and under protection of the Government of India making argument and slogans for Kashmir’s secession from India and creation of an Islamic state there. Similar propaganda activities are taking place the world over through an unprecedented communications campaign. The world wide web and social networking media are being used for organizing, brain-storming and publicity efforts in such an organized manner that even the most reputed web marketing firms could learn a thing or two.
So what can be the result of this? For starters, it even appears that these designer protests in the rest of India, outside Kashmir have the blessings of the Government of India. Maybe the Government is making the Indian population ready for a major give away! This should be true if chatter on the web by campaign organizers of the separatists is any indication. Things are going according to plan as per the separatists and the pliable Government of India is acting exactly in the manner that they want it to act. There is already an offer for talks, even with the most hardline separatists. And even before the talks have started, there are suggestive statements by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about allowing greater autonomy for Kashmir and a large financial package.
The protests outside of India are geared towards influencing global public opinion but specifically targeting getting something from the planned visit of President Obama to India in November of this year. The Kashmiri-American Council of Ghulam Nabi Fai recently organized a conference in Washington, DC where the participants unanimously adopted a resolution at the end of the conference. A lot of emphasis was placed on the visit of the United States President to India suggesting that he should be persuading India during his visit for resolving the Kashmir dispute. The resolution itself had a few fair points in the beginning including clear mention of the requirements of Kashmiri Hindus. However the later points read like a War Crimes indictment of India. This conference had some renowned people as its part and one wonders why the Government of India cannot directly or indirectly organize educational seminars that provide the Indian point of view.
The Kashmiri; Both the Oppressor and the Oppressed
India is a democracy. There are 150 million Muslims in India, besides the 5 million or so Muslims in Kashmir and they are sought after by political parties because their votes make or break governments. In the Jammu and Kashmir state, the valley Muslims have enjoyed being in power for more than 60 years as a sort of entitlement. Kashmiri Hindus, Sikhs, Dogras have at best played secondary or minor roles in the governance of the state. So who are the oppressed people here? They are the average Kashmiri Muslims. Surprised by the answer? Let me explain. It was only the average Kashmiri Muslim who was misled into crossing over the line of control to Pakistan to come back as a terrorist with only one future. It is only the average Kashmiri Muslim who is being taught to hurl stones instead of reading books or learning trade to improve his future. The motivation that is provided to him is only on religious lines and not on any grounds such as economic development, better education, improved facilities and such. Central slogans like “Azadi Ka Matlab Kya La Ilah Ilalah,” “Kashmir me kya chahiye Nizam e Mustafa” prove the point. And who creates cannon fodder from human beings who otherwise would have a bright future. It is the elite Kashmiri Muslim only, the oppressor. He himself has all the benefits of modern education and living and travels and lives freely anywhere in India or elsewhere in the world. He is sought after by the Indian government for support and doles and is also able to manipulate funds and attention from neighboring countries and religious states.
The average Kashmiri needs to eschew violence and ensure a government that rewards merit strictly (no religious or any other biases), recognize his/her being part of a global community and then see what happens. He is made to think that India is the enemy without realizing that Rs.10,000 crores is sent on his account every year. There is full religious freedom in Kashmir and if only the money that is sent on his account was used to create better infrastructure and newer community assets rather than to line the pockets of the elite and the separatists and help them in creating armies that destroy whatever infrastructure exists! The government on its part needs not to strengthen the separatists and terrorists but those large chunks of the population who stand for India, peace and development. The worst of the past can be overcome by even a glimpse of a wonderful future. Could we together drink a Kahwa or Nun Chai to that thought?
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