Form and orientation

Kashmir’s long and continuing struggle for winning the otherwise universal right to self determination derives itself from a history of suppression its people have been subjected to for centuries by outside rule. This struggle took a definite turn first in 1947 when the subcontinent was decolonised, and then another sharper one in 1989 by when ‘democratic means’ available to them were systematically subverted at every step to deny the people genuine opportunities to shape their political future. Kashmir being a Muslim-majority region played into the politics of Partition of the Indian subcontinent, and so its Muslim identity interacted with the Hindu dominated post-1947 India as well as Muslim Pakistan. However, the people of Kashmir do not demand the right to self determination because they happen to be a Muslim-majority nation but simply because they have not gotten an opportunity to determine their political destiny by their free will. That is not to suggest that a certain Muslim identity, or Islam has not played a significant part in the ways resistance leaders from the entire spectrum have deployed to mobilise the masses. Call it compulsion, attempts to compensate for lack of tactics employed in the movement for Kashmiri rights or historical reasons, Kashmir’s Muslimness has always played a significant part even before the formation of Muslim Pakistan or Hindu dominated ‘secular’ India. The historical fact also is that Kashmiri Hindus have at various points in time been a significant part of the movement for right to self determination. It may not appear so now, perhaps because a certain communalising narrative has deliberately been deployed by statist classes to subvert the Kashmiri struggle – so much so that demanding the internationally recognised right has almost automatically come to be described as a communal demand. The moot argument is that historically no one among Kashmir’s resistance leadership has ever said that the right to self determination is deserved by Muslims of Kashmir alone. It is the right of every identity that makes Kashmir. Now, if anyone from among the non-Muslims citizens of Kashmir say that the right to choose one’s political destiny does not have to be exercised after establishment of Indian rule over Kashmir it amounts to privileging a certain choice over every other. Tuesday’sHurriyat statement saying that the Kashmiri struggle is a political response to repression rather than a religious aspiration is one of the valid views here. There can be a debate, but turning away from this position would, for many, amount to negation of the raison d’être of the historic Kashmiri struggle.