The security of well over a billion Indians cannot be jeopardised by the short-sighted suicidal attitude of a misguided few who espouse the Kashmiri secessionist cause
The recent events regarding sedition, azaadi and similar slogans espoused by Sajjad Gani Lone and his ilk in Kashmir fail to take some basic facts into account.
Let people of India which includes J&K, roll back to 1947 when the marauders aided by Pakistani paramilitary forces invaded J&K and came up to Baramulla.
How they razed the nunnery there and how they tortured and killed the nuns is part of history. For Pakistan, this is an unfinished story. If Lone takes into account what is happening in Pakistan today he will see that the Shia sect and the Sufis of Pakistan have been systematically targeted and killed by the Sunni-dominated majority in the army and the administration.
The Muslims of Kashmir are quite different from the Sunnis of Pakistan. They are gentler, more cultured and similar to the Sufis. Is it difficult to imagine the fate of the Kashmiri Muslims under the tutelage of the Sunnis of Pakistan? It will be the irony of ironies if in the name of azaadi, they walk into the Sunni trap from which they cannot escape and will have to be reconciled to be treated as slaves and subordinate citizens for all time.
Do the Kashmiris really want this one-way road to slavery in Pakistan instead of the special treatment they are now getting in India? This is what the interloculators should put to the separatist groups in Kashmir.
Secondly, even if the Muslims want to form part of the Sunni hegemony, what about the other religious groups in J&K and particularly the four lakh Kashmiri Pandits who have as much right as the Muslims to reside in their state? Surely they have a right to be part of Kashmir — in India.
Why should India not press for the return of these people to Kashmir?
Thirdly, the right of secession does not belong to any constituent group. At the time of Independence, there were over 500 states which had acceded to India under Instruments of Accession similar to that of Kashmir. There is no reason why J&K should be treated differently from other states.
There are ten times more Muslims in India than in Kashmir and they are well-integrated with the rest of the population, allowing for some misguided persons toeing the Pakistani line.
Fourthly, the rest of India has to have a say in the matter. They have sacrificed over 20,000 lives and spent over Rs20,000 crore over all these years in defending J&K.
The price for all this should not be the real danger to India’s security with the Pakistanis sitting over the enslaved population across the border. And let us not forget the Chinese who are close allies of Pakistan. If they are now in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (POK) in the thousands, they will swarm into the valley under the guise of aiding them in various projects.
In fact, no one will dispute the fact that if India withdraws its army from Kashmir within the next two weeks, 2,000 terrorists waiting across the border, aided openly by the Pakistani army, will overrun Kashmir and enslave the people of Kashmir.
Is this why the people of India sacrificed their young men and spent thousands of crores over all these years to keep out the Pakistanis?
And what happens to Nagaland and Mizoram if they also want to follow Kashmir? They will come under the tutelage of the Chinese in no time.
No part of India can secede without the rest of India acceding to the proposal. Will the rest of India agree that Kashmiris alone should decide as to where they should belong? Should not the safety and territorial security of India be a major consideration even for the Kashmiris who talk of secession?
It is time that these implications of the azaadi groups’ demand are explained frankly and fully to everyone and in all of India. The security of India of over a billion people cannot be jeopardised by the short-sighted suicidal attitude of the Kashmiris.
Will the interlocutors explain all this to the Kashmiris? Will all the other political parties explain all this to the people of India so that they can deal with all those who espouse the secessionist cause at the hustings? The political map of India can then change and our approach to J&K can be more purposeful and helpful to the gentle — though misguided — people of the beautiful valley.
(The writer is former SEBI chairman, former chairman-Disinvestment Commission and former member, Planning Commission of India)