Kashmir is again protesting, fiercely. The mood on the streets is again that of ‘we’ll not give up’ despite the heavy loss of life the state has already inflicted on the people for demanding the right to be free from Indian rule which has historically displayed all the characteristics of a military occupation cloaked in electoral democracy. It’s stasis again. On the one hand is New Delhi refusing to even acknowledge that Kashmir is a case of disputed sovereignty, and on the other Pakistan insists on holding plebiscite which could allow the beleaguered people to decide choosing to be a part of India or Pakistan. But what we see on the streets of Kashmir time and again is people shouting Azadi, which contrary to the meanings New Delhi or Islamabad want to derive from the slogan means freedom from both the nation states.
That brings us to the conflict within Kashmir itself. We have the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, both allies of New Delhi in Kashmir. While the NC has stuck to its cherished objective of regaining autonomy within the Indian union, which ironically its leaders have already bartered away for power in the past. So, it counts for little. On the other hand we have the PDP whose lofty ideals of self-rule turned out to be made of wax under the rising and blazing sun of BJP, which has already eaten the party up like a soup. So, the PDP in the existing circumstances also counts for nothing. Whatever was left of the party that has also been uprooted by the aftermath of Burhan Wani’s death.
That leaves the struggling and protesting people on both sides of the bloodied dividing line and the resistance leadership in the middle. The people are once again saying to this leadership they are ready to do whatever it takes to wrest their right to freedom. The resistance leadership’s response so far has been familiar. The world is also familiar with the positions India and Pakistan have maintained over Kashmir. The UN is silent on the dispute. What the world has not seen so far is a plan or a solution the people of Kashmir and the true representatives of their sentiment propose. It’s time for them to think of one, negotiate with Pakistan to earn that country’s unconditional solidarity with that solution and then present it to the world. The only winning solution can come from the people themselves. It’s time for it to think.