Thank you Thapars, Roys and Vardharajans
SOMEWHERE BENEATH THE DEAD BODIES IN KASHMIR, HUMANITY LIES BURIED. ANYBODY WHO RECOGNIZES THE FACT MUST BE DULY ACKNOWLEDGED, WRITES BASIM AMIN BAZAZ
Fifty by no means is a small number. It becomes even bigger, when it counts the number of corpses that have been laid to rest by wailing families. In the last two months, 50 people have been reported dead in Kashmir - how many deaths have gone unreported, nobody can say for sure. I have said it before and I am saying it again; a life is a life and nobody has a right to put a lesser price on a Kashmiri`s life as opposed to anybody living in any other part of the world. The laws of the land, the constitutions of the world and the governments in power are primarily put in place to empower man with a right to life, among other rights. When the same institutions dishonor this basic right - or worse, keep silent when it is being dishonored - it is nothing less than an unfortunate irony.
There was a time when a day marked by someone getting killed inspired awe. Now it is ghastly reverse. A day when someone does not get killed throws a surprise. As the death toll rises within the infernal boundaries of the Kashmir valley, the concern has finally started to grow. A time has come when not only native Kashmiris but people from other parts of India and the globe have started to raise their voice against the blatant override of human rights there. They may be very few in number but still they are there. I would say these are the people whose have recognised the irony - dogs have rights in Kashmir, humans have none.
Karan Thapar is a renowned Indian TV host (Don`t know what else to call him. Wikipedia calls him a Television Commentator but I will stick with TV Host). He has the distinction of grilling the most vociferous people on his television shows. Recently he appeared with a write up in 'The Hindu'. He called it The Silent Shame. He was clear and unbiased in pointing out that the killings in Kashmir were not justified at all and that the prime minister should express some grief, if not tender an apology about it. I preferred to read it as more of a confession. A piece where he confessed that he had tried to justify the killings, at least to himself, but a certain 'Pertie' had made him realise that those who had been killed where mostly kids, flesh and blood, had wounds in the upper parts of their body and their killings could have been avoided. The piece pointed out one more thing that needs a mention - governments are there to protect people and not to kill. The best thing about the piece seemed to the starting line where Pertie asked Karan what David Cameroon, the prime minister of Britain would have done if 50 civilians were killed on the streets of London. And to be honest that is what all the Kashmiris are most anxious to know - why has their blood become so cheap? What happened to their rights? Rights they were promised when they elected a government back in 2008?
Interestingly Karan Thapar is not the only 'unexpected' person who has at least rationally tried to ponder over the issue. We know Siddhartha Vardarajan came out with a piece in The Hindu some days ago. On the heels of these written contemplations come peaceful protest have erupted across parts of the country in support of an end to these killings. These peaceful protests have not only been taken up by Kashmiris but by many non-Kashmiris as well whose heart goes out to the bleeding humanity. Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi - the metroes have started to reverberate with the question. Why kill Kashmiris?
This pertinently has not been the only time when there has been a crisis in Kashmir and subsequent civilian killings. And this of course is not the only time when the most unexpected of figures have raised their voices against the killings. Back in 2008 when the Amarnath land row had broken out, T. Swaminathan came out with a written peice in The Times of India, where he meticulously charted out the history of the conflict, citing a telling irony that really not many have a satisfactory answer to.
During Britain`s colonial rule of India, there were at least 576 princely states that were not ruled directly by the British. Jammu and Kashmir was one among these princely states, ruled by king Hari Singh. The British had an understanding with their rulers. The rulers of these states would accept the British supremacy, let their militaries stay in their territory, provide for their expenses and pay a certain amount of taxes towards them. The British in turn would not to attack them and protect them from any other external threats. However at the time of India`s Independence the fate of these princely states lay in tatters. Their rulers were given an option to either stay with India, join Pakistan or stay independent. In most of the cases the resolution proved effective barring three. Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir and Junagarh.
While Hyderabad was locked on all its sides by Indian territory, the discretion of its ruler to stay independent did not hold much value and it was eventually invaded and integrated to India. However, the situation with the states of Junagarh and Jammu and Kashmir proved to be in a peculiar contrast. Although both lay at the borders between India and Pakistan and could have been integrated to either, there was a stark demographic distinction between the two. Junagarh had a Muslim ruler who wanted to join Paksitan but his population was Hindu in majority; Kashmir had a Hindu ruler but his population was Muslim in majority. The ruler of Junagarh chose to join Pakistan, the Indian forces sympathetic to the public sentiment invaded Junagarh and integrated it with India. The ruler fled to Pakistan. In case of Jammu and Kashmir though, what happened was diamertically opposite. The public sentiment was to join Pakistan, the ruler wanted to stay independent but aceeded to India – through the famous instrument of accession – on the heels of an invasion from Tribals coming from Pakistan.
India took contorl of the defence, economy and communications of Jammu and Kashmir. However the sentiments of the population in general- a majority of Mulsim - were to join with Pakistan. The United Nations was called upon by Pandit Jawarlal Nehru which passed the resolution demanding removal of forces from Jammu and Kashmir – both Indian and Pakistani; both from Indian part of Kashmir as well as Pakistani part of it. As the fate of Jammu and Kashmir did not turn out the way it did in Junagarh where public sentiment was heeded to, a plebiscite looked the natural solution. Thus the UN resolution also called for a plebiscite which was backed by Pandit Jawaharlal at his famous Lal Chowk speech. A right to self determination where they would get to choose which county they want to stay with. This is where the core of the Kashmir problem lies. This is what people of Kashmir have been asking for.
Now this is all history and we know all about it. Coming to the question that T. Swaminathan had posed in his article back in 2008. Had Junagarh been clubbed with Pakistan, would its majority of Hindu population not have raised its voice? Would there have been no resistance movement to join India? Would there have been no public sentiment and furore? How would Pakistan have reacted to it? How would have India reacted to it? Why is Kashmir different from what Junagarh could have been? It takes us back to the same point where we started. And I am sure this point will keep springing up again and again. Shouldn't it be the people - who make the governments- decide their fate as opposed to governments deciding their fate for them, as is happening now?
Back in that year, 2008, Arundhati Roy also published an article which she named Azadi. She drew severe flak for it from some quarters. The news items in the national newspapers that carried excerpts from her article attracted fiery comments. Many dubbed her as anti national and advised her to pack her baggage and migrate to Pakistan. Public sentiment, no doubt.
That is how it works. Interestingly I found a really interesting comment on her article where a person had opined that if the people of Kashmir are against their government, they should leave India and migrate to Pakistan. In his view that would end the dispute but in my view it would really shake the very fundamentals of democracy. Again we have to understand, it is the people who make governments and not the other way round. If people have a problem with the government, it is the government that has to recognise the problem, address it or leave. Really that is what democracy tells us. People themselves are at the highest throne and not the governments they choose!
So many have died in Kashmir. So many more continue to die. Not much is being done. It is painful. Only those who lose a kith or kin can understand how painful it really is. All we can do as people is to let our disapproval be known peacefully and hope that civilians will no longer be killed. However one thing is sure, all the protests add up. All those whose conscience pricks them to raise their voice with us, we welcome. Be it Karan Thapar, Arundhati Roy, Siddhartha Vardarajan or T. Swaminathan; be it thousands who came on the streets of the metropolitan cities of India or those who gathered in Washingtion. They would know that it seldom matters who you are or where you come from, when you are raising you voice for the right cause. In any case I thank you for recognising the human angle here and providing your shoulder to share our grief.
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Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 12 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 13 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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