During his recent foreign visits, your Prime Minister, Narendra Modi highlighted two global issues as the most critical ones being faced by the world; one of which was terrorism. While he was stressing on the need to tackle terrorism on an international platform, back home his own forces were busy inflicting state terrorism on the people of your so-called ‘integral part’ due to which the already oppressed Kashmiris were losing lives one after another. What followed is something which the world has been witnessing despite media bans by the state.
It all started with the killing of Burhan Wani, the person who took up arms to fight his land’s occupation. He may be a terrorist to you but he was a darling of his nation. For a moment, you need to think beyond your state narrative on Kashmir and pay some heed on why a terrorist for you was one of the most beloved heroes for his own people. If you remain unbiased, the answer you will get may not leave you very comfortable.
Killing one Burhan or a handful of other similar fighters is not going to end the freedom struggle of Kashmiris. You must have realized that by now over the period of time. Burhan had become a youth icon. One does not have to do much of research to realize that. The size of the funeral procession of Burhan was one of the biggest funerals of any freedom fighters of Kashmir which speaks volumes.
You killed their hero and hence, they protested. You killed more. They protested more. And then you killed further. Even the ambulances carrying the injured protesters to the hospitals were targeted. Pellet guns were used extensively blinding many for life. Not just men, but women and children as young as 5-years old were also targeted. There can be no compensation to the loss of lives and sight. In which kind of democracy is a protest dealt with in such a brutal way?
The madness did not end there. You started putting ban on all modes of information and communication including cellular networks, cable TV, internet, newspapers to the extent of asking Facebook to disallow anyone anywhere in the world from showing the plight of Kashmiris which was the direct result of your atrocious state policies. You have tried your best to isolate them. But the people who haven’t surrendered in decades might not do so even with all these suppressions and restrictions.
Despite your understanding with Facebook to remove any news coming from Kashmir, other social media platforms are continually discussing #FreeKashmir, #KashmirUnrest, #KashmirSiege, #KashmirCrisis, #KashmirKillings and other relevant topics that are ultimately drawing attention of many global citizens.
The news of this recent episode of barbarism has gone global now which is only bringing shame to India. People not only in Pakistan but from across the world are peacefully protesting on streets of Australia, Britain and Canada. Even India is now added to the list where the sane minds are raising voice against inhumane use of force unleashed on innocent civilians of Kashmir under your control.
To hide your own sins, you are shamelessly blaming Pakistan for this unrest. Please ask yourself; was Burhan a Pakistani or a Kashmiri? The people who joined his funeral, were they all not Kashmiris? Those who became victims of your bullets, was any of them coming from Pakistan? Is the anger of the locals and their protests not a result of your army’s never-ending cruelty? You even banned Pakistani TV channels in the valley which only speaks volumes of your insecurity but you will see that this move of yours will not help bring peace in the land because Pak media has got nothing to do with the unrest.
It is high time you prepared your nation to accept the hard facts on Kashmir; the fact that Indian forces have brutally occupied Kashmir for decades; the fact that Kashmir is not one of the Indian states; not unless its people deliberately choose to be part of it through a plebiscite; the fact that when they chant “Hum kya chahtay? Azaadi!” they mean it. It is not the notion of their separatist leaders only, but the voice of every Kashmiri. As one of the stone-pelters from the valley says; “When we throw stones, we throw them not on an individual but on Indian occupation.”
The hurling of Pak flags in the valley, the chanting of pro-Pakistan and freedom slogans, the celebration in the valley on every defeat of Indian cricket team, the anti-India slogans during in every protest, the fact that ‘Azaadi’ is the very first word the toddlers of Kashmir learn to speak, all have signs of the aspirations of Kashmiris which are no less than a referendum. They may or may not want to join Pakistan, but they certainly want freedom from India. No shrewd tricks or baseless propaganda of yours can change this fact at all.
Yes I’m using the word propaganda here because it is propaganda of highest order when you run fake news and videos on your news channels about Azad Kashmir wanting to accede to India. One of the journalists from Azad Kashmir describes this attempt of yours in the following words:
“If there were Oscars for lies of different degrees, India would clinch all every year.”
Over the period, a hard-line narrative has been instilled in you as a nation that now every Kashmiri is considered a terrorist by your nationalists to such an extent that some of them even wish Kashmiris to be bombed once and for all. I ask you India, what is the point of winning a piece of land without owning and caring for its people?
But now after years of brutality, a healing touch cannot change things in your favor anymore. Nothing can undo the damage caused after decades of barbarity. The one and only solution to put an end to this conflict is holding a plebiscite. It’s high time you fulfilled what Nehru promised to the Kashmiris because the case of Kashmir is not the case of Human Rights violations but the case of freedom struggle.
Another absurdity from your side is revealed when you call Kashmir conflict your ‘internal affair’ in an attempt to keep Pakistan from raising voice for the Kashmir cause. I don’t know how you all as a nation can easily get fooled with such a baseless narrative. You do not have to refer to centuries’ old history to realize that Pakistan is the country without consulting whom you can absolutely not resolve the Kashmir issue whether you refer to the UN resolutions or the Simla agreement. Whenever India and Pakistan’s diplomats and leaders hold meetings, is discussing Kashmir not part of the agenda? If so, how can you so conveniently declare it as your internal matter?
The fact of today is that Kashmir is bleeding. It is wounded and in pain. In such circumstances, the more you kill the more rebels it will give rise to. Denials won’t work anymore. The world knows your ‘integral part’ as the world’s ‘largest militarized zone’ on earth. Today you killed one Burhan; tomorrow there will be dozens more. Every young Kashmiri today is saying ‘I am Burhan’ which clearly means that they have become completely inspired by what Burhan stood for and fought for.
You claim to be the world largest democracy but Kashmir occupation and the resultant suppression of its people doesn’t go really well with such glorious claim of yours. You must live the claim in its true sense. You still have a chance for face-saving. Being the largest democracy and the regional giant, it comes as your responsibility to be kind towards smaller nations around you. So why not start from home? Be proactive and do whatever is required to fulfill the aspirations of the people who have been oppressed since your independence.
No third party of the world will help resolve this issue unless a sincere effort by those directly involved in the conflict is made. As long as this bone of contention between the two nuclear states remains unaddressed, the region will remain under huge risk which is definitely not in the favor of this developing region. The world’s largest democracy should not be securing faulty national interests at the expense of innocent lives where your own officials conveniently claim that India just needs the land of Kashmir, while Pakistan can take its people.
I hope my letter has shown you the true face of the world’s largest democracy and it surely doesn’t look so good at all. As a concerned global citizen and a citizen of this highly volatile region, I urge you to let peace prevail. Resolving Kashmir conflict is the only way to it.
– A concerned South Asian citizen
A slightly different version of this letter appeared in Pakistan Today