The issue of Kashmir has been an apple of discord between India and Pakistan since their independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. Two wars have been fought in its name and there are “N” number of different political narratives that exist in bold contradiction to each other depending upon where they come from. One of the most talked about part of Kashmir debate is the United Nations Security Council resolution 47, adopted on April 21, 1948, which promises a plebiscite to the people of Kashmir who then can decide whether they wish to remain with India or Pakistan or choose a free Kashmir for themselves. But what the plebiscite mongerers have not done is to read the UN resolution themselves. The UN Security Council’s resolution clearly states three “consequential” steps that needs to be implemented “sequentially”. The first being that Pakistan was asked to demilitarize, the second that India also demilitarizes the region with a presence being permitted only to defend itself against Pakistani aggression and then subject to fulfillment of the above two conditions, finally came the option of plebiscite. So all those Indians and Pakistanis who are upset that the plebiscite never happened have solely the successive Governments of Pakistan to blame because Pakistan never fulfilled the first necessary condition. Hence to blame India with a fictional anti-plebiscite narrative based on selective presentation of facts is simply in my opinion a propaganda for which not only the masses of Pakistan but several liberal left leaning masses of India have fallen prey to. Carol Christine Fair, an associate professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies (CPASS) at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, explains this very point to a Pakistani Fulbright scholar and brings down the “fictional” narrative that is so commonly used against India.
What one must be honest in accepting is that the protests for “Azadi” in Kashmir is less about political freedom and more about establishing an Islamic state in the Norther border of India owing to the regions religion-based allegiance to Pakistan. Why does one say that ? If one dispassionately observes every so-called riot in Kashmir one realises that the minarets of the mosques, reserved for prayer calls, proclaims armed jihad against India and these calls from the mosques in Kashmir often are straightforward – they urge the faithful and the pious to fight for the Azadi of Kashmir. If you donot fight for Azadi your are not a pious Muslim !!!. For instance, post recent elemination of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, loudspeakers in the mosques of Kashmir started blaring songs of “shahadat” after evening prayers, instigating the youth on a path of martyrdom, in a treacherous tango with internationally banned islamist terrorist organizations such as Hizbul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT). Thousands of young Kashmiris are marching to this delusional narrative of Azadi to simply be recognized as a pious Muslim. The mosques after friday prayers are fanning passions among the easily impressionable Muslim youth of Kashmir, not letting the fires that are burning in Kashmir to be be doused. The motive for Azadi therefore comes through clearly not as an innocent freedom struggle but a desire to establish an “Islamic state” with the help of the machinery of the local mosques, by disintegrating an integral part of secular India. While that remains my specific analysis of mosques and disillusioned Muslim youth in Kashmir, I am however under no generalised illusion or prejudice that Islam as a religion, Muslims as a community or mosques as a place of worship are non-peaceful, for I have been blessed with a fair share of Muslim friends from Morocco to Indonesia (including Kashmir) to whom I am thankful for enlightening me that personal religious beliefs of a person and political aspirations for an Islamic state are in reality two different things.
Until this unholy nexus between the mosques and terrorist outfits continue in Kashmir, the Government of India (whichever party it may be) has no choice but to station its military in Kashmir. India is not “occupying” Kashmir, but that territory (marked in red border in the map below) is very much legally a part of India through the instrument of accession dated 26 October 1947, that was executed under the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947 of the UK Parliament. India is merely mounting a military defense against religious terrorism that advocates to establish an Islamic state in its own soil, which has claimed the lives of more than 4,800 Indian civilians and more than 2,400 Indian security personnel. The Kashmiri protestors waved black ISIS flags in the protest riots after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was eliminated and pelted stones at riot police. The riots have so far claimed 55 lives, including 2 policemen. While the mainstream media does parrot “excessive force” by Indian military, it does not talk about the 1,500 members of the Indian police and army who were injured by the mobs. India cannot afford to have another religious state on its Northern border geopolitically as it is already flanked on the West and East by two. Pakistan´s and Bangladesh’s radical Islamist groups and jihadi elements have been procuring funds from multiple sources, including expatriates’ remittance, illicit money transfers and state and non-state actors of Pakistan and infiltrating various parts of India for decades to sponsor several militant religious organisations that threaten the secular existence of India. Could India and Indians risk one more such state in the North that may endager secular India ?
While there is no denying that military excesses may have been occasionally perpetrated by the Indian army like in any other military expedition world wide, we must realize that those are matters to be trialed by a military court or any other courts that has a jurisdiction over it within our democratic system. Individual excesses need to be curbed but not at the expense of greater geopolitical security of India. So let us now examine these so-called “excesses”. After insurgency in Kashmir valley began in the late 1980s, Indian troops entered in Kashmir valley to control the insurgency. Althought the Indian government refuses to release any official figures, some analysts have suggested that the number of Indian troops in Jammu and Kashmir is close to 600,000 although such estimates often vary. There is no denying the fact that some of these troops could have engaged in humanitarian abuses and extra-judicial killings. But how many ? In October 2010, Army Chief Gen. G.K Singh stated in an interview that over 95.2 % of the allegations of human rights violations after extensive investigations proved to be false and had apparently been levelled with an “ulterior motive” of maligning the “armed forces”. Giving details, he said 988 allegations against the Army personnel in Jammu and Kashmir were received since 1994. Out of these 965 cases were investigated and 940 were found false, accounting for 95.2 % of the total accusations. Although an ideal situation would be 0% abuse, it is realistically impossible in any military conflict. One must note than the extent of these so called “excesses” is in reality 4.8 % with the rest 95.2 % being used simply as a propaganda tool against India.
As a strange out-of-place centre leaning creature politically, I often have the exceptional advantage of being at logger heads with the irrationalities and hate speech of both the politically left and the right leaning zealots simultaneously. And in this process I seem to have received and accumulated for myself, quite a bit of adjectives that either of these camps hurl at their opponent. It is so much more easier in India to take an extreme left or right political view because then one has the luxury of being an illogical partisan and spew venomous vocabulary – their camp is fixed. However it is not that easy to advocate a space for centre-politics in India as ones cognitive analysis and objectivity are constantly under challenge having to ping pong between the CPI, Congress, AAP and the BJP and cherry pick policy positions without letting individual party prejudices to affect oneself. Therefore, I shall not be surprised if this article on religious extremism in Kashmir will provoke the left-liberal zealots in to calling me a “Sanghi nationalist” (especially since I happen to bear a Hindu name), and try to discredit my analysis not on facts but by name calling. However, thankfully that old trick has never, will never, and shall never be a deterrant for me to enlighten my readers on an objective analysis of the geopolitcal and religious realities in Kashmir.
In a major setback to Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue, in November 2010 the United Nations has removed Jammu and Kashmir from its list of disputed territories. Additionally, the United Nations has in full understanding of this dispute also excluded Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) from its list of unresolved international disputes under the observation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). As Indians, therefore, while we can and must sympathise with the plight of the Kashmiri people, we cannot and should not fall prey to propaganda, and be part of any activism directed against the Indian state that is constantly striving to put an end to religious aspiration of turning Kashmir into another “Islamic State”.