To Rahul, with love

Congrats, but I want to add a word before I finish

OPEN LETTER

MUHAMMAD KAMRAN SHAMSHAD

Dear Rahul
I am sure, by now, you would have been deluged with congratulatory messages on taking over as Congress Party’s vice-president on 19th January. Does my congratulatory message matter, I don’t know. But since you too, like me, are a Kashmiri or at least claim to be, let me greet you in unique Kashmiri style ‘Waarai.’ You are considered to be an icon of the youth in India blessed with good looks which reminds me of a letter shot to your great grandfather, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru by Pandit Manto where the writer says “To be Kashmiri is to be handsome, and to be handsome…I don’t know” So I hope that you are not admired as ‘youth icon’ merely for your looks; as looks don’t work in politics only brain does. And going by the old saying “handsome is what handsome does.”

In your maiden speech as Deputy leader of Congress, you were emotional and deeply critical of the Indian government. You, in your speech, said, "… it does not matter how much wisdom you have, you mean nothing. This is the tragedy of India. Why is our youth angry? Why are they out on the street? They are angry because they are alienated.” Yes sir you got it right.

 And maybe that is the reason you try to do things differently. In last few years you have been taking painstaking journeys to know the reality of India which lies among the poor of the country. Your efforts to recruit the youth of India are worth appreciating. I think this gives you the distinction of being India’s ‘youth icon’ in comparison to other young Indian politicians like Sachin Pilot.

But why does every policy, every line; every idea; every ideology; every vision change completely when it comes to Kashmir? Why does a person who meets troubled farmers in the mainland and pledges full support to them, fail to meet the troubled families of Kashmir? Why does a person who dares to hop on to a local train in Mumbai leaving Shiv Sena shell-shocked refuse to walk down the local streets of Kashmir? Why a person who carries the tag of ‘youth icon’ doesn’t deem it necessary to actually meet young people in Kashmir? Why doesn’t the ‘youth icon’ go and meet those parents who are awaiting justice for the cold-blooded murderers of their children? Why doesn’t the ‘youth icon’ meet those parents, who are relentlessly moving from pillar to post, in search of their disappeared children? Why do you only choose to skim across the run of the mill stuff here? Why do you like any other politician and even layman for that matter, talk only about development and jobs but not justice? 

Now you may tell me that he went to Kashmir University (KU) and met the students of this highest institute of learning in Kashmir. But then I must clarify that these students were selectively chosen and were ordered to refrain from asking any questions regarding the Kashmir-dispute and were also clearly instructed not to say 'our Kashmir, your India' instead.

Now when students are hand-picked, where how will you understand the youth? Well, you may say then the fault lies with KU authorities and not with Rahul. But Rahul, your own party boasts you of being smart enough, doesn’t this logic tell you that students assembled there can be dictated terms, so that a programme runs smoothly?  Like doesn’t logic tell me this letter will not reach your high security zone area, let alone be a ‘neutral’ person? 

Being the leader of the youth, shouldn’t you have had asked the officials to allow all the university students to be present there? Then why didn’t you think of a general invitation as such opportunities come once in lifetime? Please don’t take me amiss saying youth should have been allowed without compulsory security checks.

You were sure you would be embraced whole heartedly by the sarpanch's in Kashmir, but alas and alack, they also disappointed you or maybe it was the other way around. I also find it strange that you the 'youth icon' wouldn't want to talk about one of the biggest problems haunting Kashmiri youth; the draconian AFSPA, PSA laws.

On your two-day visit to the Valley, you had come along with corporate bigwigs. Wouldn't it be more appropriate for a young politician 'wanting to make a difference' to accompany the interlocutors who visited Kashmir, though to buy time, in late 2010?

Also, how does the visit or interaction of the business tycoons help the people of Kashmir when the State Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah himself, on the same day, says, “Jammu and Kashmir has no lesser problems. It has problems of militancy, poverty, development and there is a political problem” (Greater Kashmir: Omar for addressing JK’s political issues). Don’t you know when there is vexing political problem, development card hardly matters? Also, Rahul you said you “extend (your) my hand to Omar like Jawaharlal Nehru extended it to Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah” (Italic added).

Now, when Omar Abdullah has no doubts in saying Kashmir has poverty problems also, then I would like to recall the same letter of Manto addressed to Nehru saying, “I have seen places like Kud, Bataut and Kashtwar. I have seen their poverty alongside their beauty. If you have removed this poverty, then keep Kashmir to yourself.”

Also, in your speech you said you want Kashmiri youth to be a part of the growth of India. But Sir I want to bring to your notice that even animals are the part of the growth. And yes they too are well fed, but they don’t enjoy the freedom of speech, freedom of expression. Did you ensure if Kashmiri youths have such fundamental human rights?

Just days before your visit, facebook and youtube were unofficially banned in Jammu & Kashmir. Why was access to these sites denied only in Kashmir?

Not to mention the ban on SMSs since 2010. Why didn’t you address this issue? Isn’t this in the interest of 'youth' whose welfare you seem to be so concerned about? Why didn't you ask the government to revoke or make sure facebook, youtube and SMSs work properly?  Is the youth, nowadays, more seen on facebook and on the internet or on the streets? Or did you come to Kashmir without doing any homework? And finally, don't you realize that your effort to lure people in the name of development and jobs cuts no ice with Kashmiris,let alone with its youth.  

Regards,

A Kashmiri youth
PS: No love, no hatred; No expectation, no hope; No qualms, no regrets.
skamranmuhammad@gmail.com

Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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