Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Abdullahs of Kashmir

The older Abdullah, Farooq, says that Kashmir would not like to remain in a 'communal India' i.e., an India with a BJP government. Modi retorts and the younger Abdullah defends his father. Another day in the life of a Kashmiri. If you don't know much about Kashmir, that is. For, despite the fact that the older Abdullah is the MP from Srinagar, the truth is that he is elected by a minuscule proportion of the population there. Of course, that is perfectly valid in a first-past-the-post system.

Except when you consider the record low turnout in Kashmir. People are not just voting in a fractured manner, they are not voting at all. The sitting MP not only enjoys meager support, he is a deeply hated figure. As a friend from Kashmir told me, if Sheikh Abdullah's grave did not have security, the Kashmiris would've exhumed his remains and stoned it to death, again.

As Modi rightly said, the Abdullahs and their godparents, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, have done more harm to secularism in the valley than anyone else. For this father-son duo then to be issuing threats in the name of the Kashmiri people is a cruel joke on them. If it wasn't for the protection of the Indian state, those two would've been publicly executed on the streets of Srinagar by now. Sheikh Abdullah's historic lie to Kashmir and to India, which has caused the death of thousands of Indian soldiers and have scarred generations of Kashmiris, is the primary act (together with that of his co-conspirator, Nehru) that has led to the tragedy that is Kashmir.

I am not a separatist. I firmly believe that India's map cannot be changed again, whether it be Kashmir or Nagaland. But a brutal military occupation is no way to win an insurgency or to win the hearts of Kashmiris. This blog has been consistently opposed to AFSPA for anything beyond a short imposition - Kashmir has been under AFSPA for over two decades now and Manipur for almost as long as it has been in the Union. We are not winning there, we are gaining the land and losing the people. In the case of Kashmir, we have probably already lost the people.

It is these issues that the Abdullahs should be talking about, not their imagined ideas of Kashmir's future in India. Kashmir will always remain a part of India and the Abdullahs certainly will not be the ones to change that. But whether Kashmiris are a part of India or not is yet to be seen. In the mean time, this father-son duo, who are deeply hated in the Valley, should not be speaking as their representatives. 

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