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A Few Questions On Kashmir, If You Will Permit Us To Ask

29/07/2016 2:20 PM IST | Updated 29/07/2016 2:36 PM IST
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Danish Ismail / Reuters
A demonstrator hurls a stone during a protest in Srinagar against the recent killings in Kashmir.

If Kashmir is an integral part of India, as you say it is, do you consider Kashmiris Indians? If you do, it must trouble you to see a Kashmiri blinded by a pellet gun?

If I am thus troubled, and say we must find a way to deal with Kashmir and its people with empathy and understanding, and better crowd control methods, and minimize the use of the pellet gun in the face of protests, as I would say if this were done in any other state that is an integral part of India, say Orissa or Bengal, Punjab or Gujarat, how do I suddenly become pro-Pakistan and a traitor?

If the protests in Kashmir are all Pakistan's doing, what has the government done in response to this? Why has it not done the first step in expressing displeasure—summoning the Pakistani high commissioner in Delhi and telling him off, which Pakistan lost no time in doing to his counterpart in Islamabad?

Who do we hold to account for the intelligence failure in allowing this situation to escalate this far? Or is the case that the media's job now is to aid the silencing of questions?

If Kashmiris in large numbers are coming out in support of a terrorist, and the youth of the valley are seeing him as a role model, what is India doing to address this situation?

If wanting peace with Pakistan is an act of treason, is Prime Minister Narendra Modi an anti-national guilty of treason, and must he face trial?

If the protests in Kashmir are all Pakistan's doing, what has the government done in response to this?

If calling for a solution to the Kashmir issue based on dialogue is a pro-Pakistan and anti-India move, can we please first try BJP president Amit Shah for perpetuating ISI agenda through the coalition government his party runs in J&K, which has committed to talking to all stakeholders including the separatists?

Does separatism in Kashmir exist only in the imagination of reporters and in isolated mohallas where Pakistan-funded separatists have some influence? Why don't those who argue this on TV actually show us this reality through ground reporting in Kashmir?

Is Kashmir a monolith? Is it the case that all Kashmiris—young and old, elite and penniless, man and woman—want the same thing for Kashmir's future? Is it the case that there are no factions among separatists, or Kashmiris who want to remain with India, but are nonetheless mad as hell at India?

If Kashmir is in the thrall of Pakistan-funded separatists, and if every Kashmiri is potentially two months away from turning into Burhan Wani, how come the assembly elections in 2014 saw the highest voting percentage in 25 years?

Is it the case that all Kashmiris—young and old, elite and penniless, man and woman—want the same thing for Kashmir's future?

Is it not possible that one can be sympathetic to the plight of the ordinary Kashmiris, whose lives must negotiate the hopeless lose-lose maze of militant groups, intelligence agencies and indeed political Islam, even while applauding the difficult work the Indian Army and para-military forces must do to secure India's territorial integrity?

And what about the Kashmiris who man the J&K police and bear the brunt of their own people? Are they patriots or traitors, in your simplistic, reductive ledger?

Is there a greater insult to the Indian Army than to suggest that the force that is committed to the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms draws a line at our freedom to criticize it?

Can there be a greater disservice to our martyrs than to have their names and legacies summoned by television gladiators as memory tests for rivals, while themselves stumbling to recall their full names?

If calling for restraining special powers of India's armed forces is treason, is India's Supreme Court guilty of the offense?

Does a difficult situation go away if you shoot the messenger?

Given that the lives of our Army jawans and paramilitary men are at risk in Kashmir, don't we have a greater responsibility to view government policy in Kashmir with a critical lens? Is it the government's case that it has all the right answers and its ideas and actions are beyond scrutiny?

Is there a greater sin in a democracy, especially a young one where not more than a few generations have enjoyed constitutional freedom of speech, than to call for the curtailing of our hard-won freedoms?

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