Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke in reference to Kashmir in his Kerela speech on Saturday and then again in Man Ki Baat on Sunday. Modi’s speeches are usually composed of his development mantra which of course has buyers in India, but whenever he speaks of matters Kashmir the place where it least resonates, perhaps does not resonate at all, is Kashmir. For that matter seldom has an Indian prime minister resonated with people of Kashmir. Modi’s government may appear dealing with political unrest in Kashmir with gloves off, but apart from a certain muscular contouring his rhetoric surrounding the issue has so far stayed in line with the trajectory New Delhi has taken in the last 70 years.
Unrest in Kashmir since Burhan’s Wani’s death and the Uri attack have exposed the Modi government’s muscular rhetoric for what it is. The Indian state and the nationalist sections of the mainstream media are beginning to reveal the reality of the incumbent government’s muscularism and the pressure it brought to itself. Somewhat realistic comparisons between capability and bluster – that may win votes – are beginning to come about. The PM said the Uri attack will not be forgotten. Of course it will not be! But can more than 80 civilians killed since July 8 in Kashmir be? Niether can the thousands whose bodies have been inscribed with all that the Indian state has meant in Kashmir be forgotten. That is to mention just a few weeks of India state’s meaning in Kashmir where its history of denial and use of brute force stretches back in the same manner seven decades.
The PM, like any other pro-India Kashmir politician or an average Indian politician for that matter, including those from the left, speaks of ‘peace’ and ‘development’ conveniently and willfully appearing to ignore that the demand and need in Kashmir is for comprehensive justice. Kashmir is still in the throes of a near-total rural uprising for Azadi, for freedom, but all that one heard from the PM was that people here want ‘peace’! Justice cannot begin to be imagined until language and intent are sincerely matched.
But if palatable articulations of obfuscations are set aside, the intent, reality and its denial appear perfectly matched up on the ground in bloodied Kashmir where it is war and revenge every day. A war against the people who never tire of shouting what they want, and revenge against them for doing just that! The PM’s Man Ki Baat might begin resonating with Kashmiris when it can at least be acknowledged that, well, if no one is clear about what the people really want sincere efforts would be made to discern the same through negotiated mechanisms. That would truly mark the beginning of India’s humanity and true democracy in Kashmir, the will of its people.