Open Letter to My Kashmiri Compatriots

Open Letter to My Kashmiri Compatriots

~ Amit Nangia

My Dear Kashmiri Compatriots,

I know you have a lot to be unhappy about, but so do all of us.

If you look beyond the propaganda that the separatists and their Pakistani masters are feeding you, you’ll see that you actually have it pretty good.

If the Indian Army were truly behaving like an occupying force, you’d probably have ended up like Tibet, with Indians from other states taking over everything. Or you could be like Balochistan, with chemical weapons and airstrikes being used against the civil population.

But it’s not like that. You have article 370 and you get massive benefits from the Indian Union. The security forces walk on eggshells to make sure there is minimal damage to you, even as they absorb wave after wave of deadly attacks.

Did you see the Americans showing such restraint in Afghanistan or Iraq?

Army men are tried and punished for any human rights violations, and sometimes unfairly so I think.

India means you no harm, but at the same time it has to defend itself too.

You erupt over the killing of that rogue Burhan Wani. You say young kids are getting shot or blinded. What business do young kids have being out in the street, indulging in arson? And if they’re using deadly projectiles against the security forces, how are they expected to respond?

If you’re really concerned about your kids, please send them to school to learn. Don’t let them take part in violent activities like their counterparts in Pakistan, Iraq or Syria. There’s no sense and nor is there any glory in self destruction.

Learn to coexist. Your religion is not the only way of life. The land you sit on today has a rich heritage, with deep significance to the rest of India who has as much right over it as you do.

You may say your voice is being suppressed, but what about the voices in Jammu and Ladakh? And what about the voices of the Kashmiri pandits who were driven out of the same valley a couple of decades ago?

If you demand pluralism and respect, you’ve got to demonstrate the same values, otherwise you come across as spoilt and selfish. Right now, you have the dubious distinction of being the only state in India where an entire religious minority was violently pushed out of their ancestral land. Those aren’t exactly the right credentials when seeking self-determination, especially when there are other regions and religions involved. The valley certainly can’t be the sole arbiter of the people’s aspirations. You’ve banned movie theaters in the valley. Does that not evoke the regressive and intolerant ethos of the Taliban or the ISIS?

If you are dissatisfied, talk. Don’t indulge in violence because it’s more harmful for you in the end. No tourism, no commerce, no schools. No prizes for guessing who suffers. Resist this spiraling cycle of destruction and ruin.

Don’t get swayed by propaganda. Things aren’t as bad as they are being made out to be. See through the lies that are being peddled. Your identity is secure and you have a lot in your favour. The instigators will not educate your children or run your business. They will not fill your shikaras or buy your shawls. They are getting funded by powers who have no sympathy for you.

Independence, or Switzerland like neutrality, is a mirage. Pakistan will ensure that you end up either dysfunctional like Afghanistan or neutered like POK. Look at Pakistan’s track record. Is that the future you want for yourself?

Peace can bring phenomenal prosperity to you and the entire region. The rest of India wishes you nothing but peace. Digging up perceived past injustices only ensures that the misery will persist. If you choose to go back 70 years, someone else may choose to rake up issues from 700 years ago. Where do we draw the line?

Come, join the rest of the country and build a better future for yourself and your offspring.