An Open Letter to the Indian Intelligentsia: Kashmir is about People and Justice

By Seema Kazi

Dear Politicians, Generals, Media and Security experts:
It is hard if not altogether impossible to hold views contrary to yours regarding the Kashmir valley these days. Through deception, bayonet, repression and (mis)representation you inscribe your monopoly over politics, violence and the truth in a small valley awash in blood and suffering.
In your united and unitary narrative, Kashmir’s school children, young girls and boys, young men and women throwing stones at our country’s soldiers are all, without exception, a dangerous radicalised Islamised, Wahhabised constituency maliciously manipulated by Pakistan with the sole aim of destabilising Kashmir and undermining India.
Similar is your view regarding those Kashmiri young men across the valley who fight and are killed by our soldiers for whom all such men are Pakistan-backed terrorists. From the point of view of the young men, India’s soldiers have unjustly occupied and brutalised their homeland; they must be fought. You claim it is only a matter of time before this sinister, illegitimate Pakistan-backed conspiracy is extinguished.
Your claim would certainly be persuasive if the people of the Kashmir Valley shared your view. Indeed, Kashmiri affirmation of this theory would most certainly buttress and conclusively seal our country’s case for all times to come. So why do we stop short of seeking the opinion of the Kashmiri people themselves? Can it be because Kashmiri sentiment lies scrawled on walls, roads and public places across the Valley? Or is it because we are working overtime to establish iron-clad evidence that Pakistan pays each and every Kashmiri civilian to protest against the status-quo, and each and every local Kashmiri graffiti writer for writing slogans demanding our troops leave the Valley? Perhaps we are also working hard to establish that Pakistan paid Budgam’s school children to write the word azadi on their school blackboard.
Most mainland Indians do believe that all Kashmiris – young, old, men, women and children – are proxy Pakistan agents out to destroy our country and therefore deserving of a bayonet plus bullet response. You have won the crucial battle of aligning domestic public opinion with yours in mainland India.
However, this is certainly not the case with reference to world opinion on Kashmir. Reports and images in the court of world opinion testify to Indian security forces firing bullets, pellets and teargas on Kashmiri school and college students, and on unarmed Kashmiri men and women peacefully protesting occupation and brutality. Despite your loathing for the ubiquitous foreign hand, even you may agree that reports on Kashmir in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Al-Jazeera, the BBC etc. are not bankrolled by Pakistan or crazed Wahhabis. The people of Kashmir these reports say are protesting and resisting Indian occupation and repression in Kashmir. Their description of the situation in Kashmir is at great and complete odds with your super-patriotic Pakistan-centric national security narrative.
On 6 June 2017, in his speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council, United Nations High Commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said his office “continues to receive reports of increasing violence, civilian casualties, curfews and website blackout in Kashmir.” Is Mr al-Hussein too on Pakistan’s payroll? If not, why does our country not respect a request made by the UN of which it is member? Is it not extraordinarily ironic that India seeks a place at the United Nations Security Council and moves the International Court of Justice against Pakistan yet fails to respond to United Nations requests for accountability and adherence to international law in Kashmir?
A further contradiction concerns our own soldiers deployed in Kashmir. A few days ago, sources in the “Indian Army told the BBC that morale among soldiers stationed in the valley is very low. Many soldiers are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with their role in Kashmir, saying they fear they are effectively becoming an army of occupation.” (Justin Rowlatt, BBC, Why Indian Army defended Kashmir ‘human shield’ Officer, 31 May 2017). There can be no greater indictment of our country’s politicians if the very institution sub-contracted by them to enforce law and order in Kashmir admits to feeling like an occupying force. Despite its grim, grisly record, our army dared speak a truth our politicians, media and security experts ignore, hide or erase.
Against these deeply troubling contradictions and lamentable deceit, would it not be in the interests of our country’s democracy, integrity and international repute to stop masking our great failure in Kashmir with the aid of bayonets, bullets, hysterical tv anchors and security narratives? Should we not end our wilful (mis) representation of the horror of Kashmiri youth dying by the dozen in protest against occupation and repression, as Pakistan-instigated terror?
Amidst the thick fog of nationalism and drums of war whipped up by your combined efforts, I urge you to recall Tagore’s compelling universal plea to “never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity.” Amidst the deepening darkness across India, may Edith Cavell’s words before her execution for valuing people and humanity over nation and territory (that the people of London inscribed forever in Trafalgar Square) make you recoil in revulsion from the bloodlust that has seized you: “Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards any one.”
Can any decent human being of any nation or nationality be accepting of your morally repugnant patriotism-cum-tv debate-cum-security-doctrine baying for war, repression and the spilling of Kashmiri blood? The answer, as Bob Dylan sang, is blowing in the wind.
If and when you overcome your extraordinary ignorance, arrogance and prejudice you shall discover the basic, fundamental, elementary, rudimentary truth that Kashmir is about people and justice. The occupation must end. Nothing more. Nothing less.

—The author can be reached at: seemakazi1@gmail.com

7 Responses to "An Open Letter to the Indian Intelligentsia: Kashmir is about People and Justice"

  1. Marjan Lucas   June 17, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Seema Kazi is an excellent, dedicated academic researcher and writer. In Europe we follow all her articles and books and use them in educating students, politicians, diplomats and human rights professionals on Kashmir, India’s refusal to aknowledge it is an international issue, not merely a domestic affair.

  2. Vikram   June 16, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Another article written in complete isolation.

    I would want to know why all factors of this dispute are never included in discussion. What about the following:

    – why should we not consider communalism as the true nature of the movement? One of the first expression of the movement was to get rid of the minorities… You drop words like genocide to describe India , how bout culturally sanitized for Kashmir.

    – why should the obvious assistance taken from global terrorists by the movement be ignored .

    – the govt should apologize for the individual acts of brutality but is violence not a conscious choice made by kashmiris. Was getting rid of minorities not a conscious decision made by kashmiris

    These articles only and always include the same reasoning …. And maybe it reflects what the kashmiri society has become ……..

    A MONOLITH

  3. Wajaht   June 16, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Mr. What any as you rightly said everybody has a right to dream. You also dream that Kashmir will not be separated. Go on watching Kashmir wiĺl be the starting point of disintegration of pseudo democratic india

  4. Seema Kazi   June 15, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Dear Shantanu,my main point is that it is morally and politically wrong on the part of our country to occupy Kashmir and repress and kill Kashmiri people. I value human life, truth and justice. My criticism of my country’s policy in Kashmir does not make me an admirer of separatists or Pakistan. Kashmir’s future is a matter between the Kashmiri people and the Indian state. It is not the focus of my article.

  5. Ambarish Srivastava   June 15, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    I recently visited Kashmir (Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam), and by and large I found it peaceful even though there was army deployment at every nook and corner in Srinagar, except the Friday when a curfew was put in some areas in Srinagar. The basic emotions of a Kashmiri as a human being are no different from the basic emotions of a Delhi Wala. We all have red blood, like good food, like good upbringing for children.
    I feel that instead of focusing on “Azaadi” the Kashmir people should focus on the development of the state (Bijli, Paani, Sadak, Employment, Education and Industry).
    I feel that instead of constructive work for prosperity the youth is being fed with the Useless opium of “Religion” and the “Heroic” pursuit of “Azaadi.”
    Instead of focusing their energies on building a career, so many students are wasting their time and energy in getting involved with “Tehreek e Sangbaaz”.
    It reeks of Islamic Incitation (Otherwise why would there be stone pelting happening after every Friday afternoon Namaaz), I am sure that people are being made high on the opium of Religion by the Islamic Salafist and Wahabist Morons.
    Infact by supporting Hizbul Muhahidin/ LeT and Tehreek-e-Sangbaaz, people are only justifying the deployment of Army. If they stop resisting, and turn against the terrorist organizations, the need for army will be automatically obviated.

  6. Santanu Chatterjee   June 15, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    I want to say something about this report though I am a common Indian people. The view of 99.99% people of India is that Kashmir is an integral part of India and we will keep it intact whatever cost it takes and all and every might and resources of India will be used for that purpose if needed. As India is a democratic country no government can ignore this opinion it is not run by Amir or government backed by army garrison. As India is growing stronger everyday there is no power in the world that can snatch Kashmir from India. Any newspaper report or anything such will never change India’s course of action in the future. Dream is a natural component of human being so it is very natural to dream about Kashmir;s independence or marge of Pakistan in the future so their is every right of separatist to dream about it but it will only prolong suffering of the people of Kashmir but intelligent people of Kashmir know very well that Kashmir will always be part of India though they never accept this in public as it can be detrimental for their life. Now it is up to the people of kashmir how long will they suffer. Please note Pakistan will also instigate you in this matter but never they will do any step to change status qua because they are very well aware about their own strength, Thank you

  7. Santanu Chatterjee   June 15, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I want to say something about this report though I am a common Indian people. The view of 99.99% people of India is that Kashmir is an integral part of India and we will keep it intact whatever cost it takes and all and every might resources of India will used for that purpose if needed. As India is a democratic country no government can ignore this opinion it is not run by Amir or government backed by army garrison. As India is growing stronger everyday there is no power in the world that can snatch Kashmir from India. Any newspaper report and anything such will never change india’s course of action in the future. Dream is a natural component of human being so it is very natural to dream about Kashmir;s independence or marge of Pakistan in the future so their is every right of separatist to dream about it but it will only prolong suffering of the people of Kashmir but intelligent people of Kashmir know very well that Kashmir will always be part of India though they never accept this in public as it can be detrimental for their life. Now it is upto the people of kashmir how long will they suffer. Please note Pakistan will also instigate you in this matter but never they will do any step to change status qua because they are very well aware about their own strength, Thank you