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Let's give peace an honest chance in Kashmir

This is important because in new Kashmir, we cannot function with the old mindset that operated on mistrust, suspicion, fear and intimidation

Friday November 19, 2021 11:40 AM, Javed Beigh, IANS

Kashmir

New Delhi: The new Kashmir that has emerged out of the ashes of three decades of Pakistan sponsored violence, death and destruction after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India is the one in which the people of Kashmir have finally come to terms with the fact that their future lies with the union of India. This means that both, the people of Kashmir valley as well as Delhi have to rework their relationship so that both can live amicably with each other, leaving behind the suspicious, rogue, lawless and hateful prism with which, both looked at each other in the past.

The unfortunate incidence of killing of two Kashmiri civilians in Hyderpora area of Srinagar in an encounter in which two militants, including one from Pakistan was killed, raises an important question as to how should we deal with such incidences that involve Kashmiri civilians, who at the end of the day are citizens of India. This is important because in new Kashmir, we cannot function with the old mindset that operated on mistrust, suspicion, fear and intimidation. We have to move beyond the old template of acting thoughtlessly and in haste, especially when lives of ordinary Kashmiri civilians are at stake.

First thing first, it is really unfortunate that both Kashmir, its people and our country is caught in this ugly situation created by Pakistan that continuously puts all three of us in these confrontational situations which have really emotional consequences. Even in Hyderpora encounter, the main militant involved was Haider, a Pakistani national and a militant of TRF (The Resistance Front), most probably a Punjabi Muslim from Southern Pakistani Punjab province, the poorer part of Pakistani Punjab from where most of militants are recruited for ISI sponsored terrorist activities in Kashmir valley, Afghanistan and Iran. Most of the Punjabi Muslim elite that run the ISI and Pakistan Army belong to upper caste and dominant OBC Punjabi Muslim Caste families from Jats, Muslim Rajputs, Punjabi Muslim Kshatriya, Punjabi Pathan and Gujjar castes of Northern Pakistani Punjab, which hosts three of the most important urban agglomeration of Pakistani Punjabi Muslim elite -- namely Islamabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Northern Pakistani Punjab is richer and more affluent part of the Pakistani Punjab, while Southern Punjab is poorer and impoverished part of the Pakistani Punjabi, which is culturally a mix of Sindhi & Punjabi language and culture, which is also called "Saraiki" or "Multani". Most of the so-called "Mujahadeen" or foot soldiers that lay their lives for various kind of jihads that anti-Shia, anti-India, anti-Afghanistan specific organisations based in northern Pakistani Punjab run. Even in Kashmir valley, most of "Pakistani" militants are actually poor Pakistani Punjabi Muslims from impoverished families of Southern Pakistani Punjabi, who study in various religious extremist schools, where they are brainwashed into hating India, Hindus, Shias, etc. and then recruited and sent for terrorist activities in Kashmir valley, Afghanistan and Iran.

 


The people of Kashmir are unfortunately caught in this conundrum in which the upper caste and Dominant OBC Caste Punjabi Muslim elite of Northern Pakistani Punjab have pushed the people of Kashmir into, especially its civilian population, which is often caught in crossfire. It is a situation that is not of choice but compulsion for ordinary Kashmiri civilian population. And it is here that there is an ample need of sensitivity that has to be cultivated amongst our security forces, especially in dealing with ordinary civilian population. The reason why this is important is because, these situations often become trigger point for further grievances and anger, advantage of which is then taken by Pakistani Punjabi Muslim run ISI and army to keep on vitiating hearts and minds of ordinary Kashmiri people.

While our security forces must deal with militants with full might, the same standards shouldn't be applied against ordinary Kashmiri civilians in new Kashmir. We need full cooperation and support of ordinary Kashmiri people to defeat nefarious designs of Pakistan and its evil intentioned Pakistani Punjabi Muslim elite, who want to keep Kashmir always on boil to hurt India.

Furthermore, even if a section of our ordinary Kashmiri citizens gets carried away and supports anti-national elements, our security forces must not apply the same harsh standards of dealing with them as are adopted in dealing with Kashmiri militants and Pakistani terrorists. We have to earn the confidence and support of our people in Kashmir valley and win their hearts and minds and inspire them to love and own our beautiful nation of India. The foundation of new Kashmir is to be built upon the mutual trust and cooperation of both the union of India and the people of Kashmir valley.

Our people in Kashmir valley have already suffered immense pain in the last three decades on unending death and violence. They need empathy and support of not only our security forces fighting nefarious designs of Pakistan but also ordinary citizens of India to help them integrate with our national Indian mainstream. Contrary to popular perception, the people of Kashmir valley have actually never betrayed India and have laid down their lives in thousands over the last three decades to maintain the writ of the union of India in Kashmir valley.

Both the people of Kashmir as well as our security forces will have to break the old prism of suspicion and mistrust with which they used to look at each other in the olden days. There is a need to develop a new means of positive communication between Kashmiri people and our security forces operating on ground, which can instill trust, confidence and cooperation. It is not going to be an easy thing to do, given three decades of bitterness involved, but at least an attempt should be made to do so by creating more and more opportunities of interactions between Kashmiri people and our security forces. It will be a long-drawn process, but something that needs to be taken with urgency and honesty, so that the process of integration of Kashmiri civil society in our national Indian mainstream can happen sooner than later.

(Javed Beigh is General Secretary of People's Democratic Front. He can be reached @javedbeigh and javadbeigh123@gmail.com. Views expressed are personal)


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