Kashmir and Kashmiris

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has asserted that: “Kashmir is ours, Kashmiris are ours, Kashmirityat is also ours. We will find a permanent solution to Kashmir.” The Home Minister’s speech is to be welcomed if it amounts to the admission that the Kashmir ‘problem’ that requires a ‘permanent solution’ is not a mere law-and-order problem – as successive rulers in Delhi have looked at it – but a political problem. The stark reality today is that the land of Kashmir is ours because the army has been holding it for us. The Kashmiris are not with ‘us’ because ‘we’ have lost the battle for their minds. A land inhabited by rebellious or near-rebellious people is not an asset but a liability which Kashmir has become over the past few years.
The real issues are well known to both the sides. At the time of Kashmir’s accession to the Indian Dominion in 1947, it was clearly understood and accepted by India that on accession Kashmir will not be a province just like any other province of the Indian Dominion. It will retain certain special features of its own, like its own constitution, own flag, own head of State and own prime minister. India will be responsible for its defence, foreign affairs and communications. Laws passed by the Indian Parliament will not be applicable to Kashmir unless confirmed by the Kashmir assembly. However, from the beginning of the 1950s every ruling party in Delhi got it to its head that the integration of Kashmir would remain incomplete till its special powers were abolished and it was reduced to the status of any other State of the Indian Union.
That was the beginning of the Kashmir problem. The more the special characteristics of Kashmir, guaranteed by India during the time of its accession, were taken away, the alienation of the Kashmiris from India began. Pakistan, which wanted to grab Kashmir at the morrow of independence, took full advantage of the situation and started doing everything possible to turn the people of Kashmir against India. The time has now come to reverse that process. Wide-ranging talks must be held with each all sections of Kashmiri people to find a solution – of accommodating the ambitions of the Kashmiri people within the broad framework of the federal constitution of India. Once the process of reconciliation and accommodation starts, we will be able to win over the people of Kashmir and all the machinations of Pakistan in Kashmir will fail, because the people of Kashmir will be with us and stop responding to or taking part in Pak-sponsored secessionist appeals and activities.

Tuesday, 23 May, 2017