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Can Azadi Raise Kashmir's Standard Of Living?

Real azaadi is azaadi from poverty, unemployment, hunger, lack of healthcare etc

11/07/2016 2:39 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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Danish Ismail / Reuters

I am deeply saddened by the recent incidents of violence in Kashmir after the killing of Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander.

I am a Kashmiri myself, and I have always condemned atrocities against Kashmiris, whether Pandits or Muslims. The fact that Kashmiri Muslims are being killed or injured at present makes no difference to me. Their DNA is the same as mine.

However, I would like to express my views here on their demand for "azadi" or freedom.

The test of every system or political act is whether or not it will raise the standard of living of the people. Many Kashmiris demand azadi from India. If they can demonstrate that such azadi will raise the standard of living of Kashmiris I will support their demand. But Kashmiris never seek to demonstrate that. All they demand is azadi.

Many Kashmiris demand azadi from India. If they can demonstrate that such azadi will raise the standard of living of Kashmiris I will support their demand.


Kashmiris forget that azadi can only be a means to an end, not an end in itself. The end must be to raising the standard of living of Kashmiris. But Kashmiris never discuss how that will be achieved in an azad Kashmir (assuming it is created).

Moreover, the pro-Pakistani slogans blared out from loudspeakers of nearly all mosques in Kashmir, and the call to wage jihad, makes me very suspicious as to who is really behind this "azadi" struggle.

So-called "freedom struggles" with a religious colour such as the Sanyasi Revolt in Bengal in the late 18th century (the historical background of Bankim Chandra's reactionary novel Anand Math), Ayatollah Khomeini's movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, ISIS, etc. tend to divide and weaken the people.

If azadi is achieved in Kashmir, will the outdated, feudal Sharia Law be imposed there? And if azadi means azadi from India but joining Pakistan, will the jackboots of the Pakistani army not fall on the necks of Kashmiris? Won't one jackboot be replaced by another?

Real azadi is azadi from poverty, unemployment, hunger, lack of healthcare etc. Did Burhan Wani and his comrades ever think of this, and how it will be achieved in an azad Kashmir? Did the "brave" JNUSU and Jadavpur University students who supported this demand of azadi for Kashmir ever think of that?

It is not enough to be brave. It is also necessary to have brains.

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