Well, guys, I forced myself to rewrite this article. Have you read the news about Chetan Bhagat writing the letter to youths of Kashmir and Kashmiri Youth firing back open letter? It is only a start. There are many open letters to Mr. Bhagat. Well, the open letter is something we only do with Mr. Chetan Bhagat. But what really disturbed me is how the simplest communication can give birth to most difficult matters.
For those who don’t know what this is all about:-
Youth in NIT Kashmir celebrated the T-20 India’s loss (I don’t know how they could find time to celebrate something worthless like the Cricket while there are bullets flying right up to their a**). While celebrating the India’s petty loss they forget the civil manner and raised some green cloth with slice of the moon and star on it. Because this green cloth resembles flag of our beloved neighbor country (okay, it isn’t that much beloved, unless you are talking about Karachi Kabab) the blood pressure of many youngsters boiled up to a dangerous level. In response, another group of people raised a tricolor cloth of worth least Rs. 1000/- with a black circle with 12 lines in the middle of it.
After that, they divided their teams and a wrestling program was organized. Somehow, Indian Army was called to enjoy this wrestling program and everything turned upside down. As every extreme activity in Kashmir is suspected of terrorism (don’t you dare to run on the streets over there), the Army thought to start their routine shooting drill. This incident left 5 people dead and the media ultimately got something to show on their channel beside Baba Ramdev’s new product advertisement.
Now, while the news was going viral, Mr. Chetan Bhagat probably got upset for dead Kashmiri boys. He opened his pen… no, he opened his iPad, iPhone, iMac… hell, I don’t know what he uses to write his novels. So, he opened his ‘writing tool’ and wrote an open letter to the general youngster of Kashmir, addressing the blood pressure problem between them. He started with a history lesson about how we get stuck with Kashmir’s problems. He told them how this annexure process went wrong and half of the state fell in the hand of Pakistan and China. After this History lesson, Mr. Bhagat started telling them the benefits of becoming a part of India (without knowing that Kashmir is already part of India by virtue of its’ Constitution).
Then Mr. Bhagat opened his web browser, composed the letter it into an email and fired it in as many directions as possible. Quickly, this letter got published on various blogs and newspapers around the world. Ultimately, SHEIKH USMAN @sheikhmdusman gets this letter, had time to read like most of us, and wrote and open letter to Mr. Chetan Bhagat.
In this letter, this SHEIKH USMAN @sheikhmdusman repeatedly wrote about the atrocities done by Indian Army. He wrote about the rape cases, the molestation case and etc. For some time, it caught my nerves. I started to think that this whole world is a real shithole for everyone. Out of interest, I opened my borrowed laptop (pretty pre-historic like iPhone 5S) and started to write bad stuff about Indian Army. Luckily, I thought to read Mr. Bhagat’s letter and like I said, I forced myself to rewrite this article.
Let’s see what was Chetan Bhagat’s Letter (as seen on TIO website):-
Dear Kashmiri friends (the ones who don’t like India),
I write in this open forum because something terrible is happening in the Kashmir Valley. The recent events at NIT Srinagar only brought the situation to national attention. Some students burst crackers when India lost the T20 semi-final. Many students were beaten for raising the Indian flag. Thereafter, bloody clashes have broken out in north Kashmir.
I understand that there is little pro-India sentiment amongst locals in the Kashmir Valley. Many would rather the Valley be on its own, some wouldn’t even mind being with Pakistan. I will not judge you. Despite being a patriotic Indian, i won’t hold it against you if you hate India. You must and do have your reasons for it.
However, allow me to present another point of view. Allow me to tell you how your future will be best, on a practical basis, if the Kashmir Valley integrates and assimilates with India. This is not an emotional, political or historical argument. It is simply more rational for people in the Kashmir Valley who seek a better future to do it with India.
Sure, the experts will jump on me now. Experts who have made the Kashmir problem their fiefdom. However, if the problem were indeed solved, how will these people stay relevant? Hence, they always attack any solution with their elitist ‘this is too complicated an issue’ stance. They love complicated. It gives them another conference to attend. You suffer with complicated, as the problem never gets solved.
The issue is complicated for sure. For those who don’t know the Kashmir issue, here it is in a nutshell. India became independent. Princely states were assimilated. Jammu & Kashmir didn’t accede. Pakistan attacked Kashmir, took half of it (and still controls it). Kashmir’s ruler called India for help. In return for help J&K became part of India, but with riders.
J&K would have its own constitution, have more political independence than other states, while the Centre would handle defence, foreign affairs and communications. In theory, it was a good solution, a sort of one country, two systems approach. In reality, it never worked.
Instead of two parents as planned, J&K became nobody’s child and an orphan. Pakistan took advantage and used the common factor of Islam to start a militant movement. The Indian army tried to control it. However, it is difficult to control terrorism that co-exists with a civilian population (case in point: even the world’s superpowers appear unable to control Islamic State).
Hence the Indian army, and India, only got a bad name in the Valley. Thus the ‘we hate India’ slogans and perennially unsolved Kashmir problem.
The question is, what is a Kashmiri youth to do now? First, it is important for everyone, not just Kashmiris, to understand the area and people involved. The J&K map we see in Indian textbooks is far from what exists on the ground. Half of what we see in the map is taken over by Pakistan and China. Even though India may claim it, unless we are okay with heavy civilian casualties (which we are not), we will never get it.
Hence, let’s just focus on the half under Indian control, which can be divided into three areas: Ladakh, Jammu and the Valley. Most of the trouble is in the Kashmir Valley. This is only around 7% of the area Indians see on the J&K map and approximates the size of Manipur. In terms of people it is 7 million, roughly the population of Chennai.
The terrain is rugged and the area is completely landlocked. Even if we were to indulge the argument that India is a terrible country and so Kashmir Valley should be on its own, can you really build a sustainable country out of it? It will be a tiny stub in a troubled area, abused by both India and Pakistan. With no real economy and extreme dependence on its giant neighbours, it risks becoming a cesspool of terrorism, drugs and smuggling.
There is also a risk of its being taken over by fundamentalist Islamic forces. It is unlikely anybody from outside would invest money in such a dangerous place. There would be no jobs and no safety. Would you want to live there? Ditto if it joins Pakistan. India is seen as a major emerging market economy. Pakistan is not even seen as a real economy.
Another issue is women’s rights. Half of the Valley’s people are women. Given the hold of fundamentalist Islam, their rights would be curbed under both the independence and Pakistan options. This half of the population would be better off with India. Or do what women want not matter?
If you are Kashmiri and care for Kashmir, the best thing you can do is to integrate with India. Your population size is small, only 7 million. It is not unthinkable to unite them and create a group of people that talks real business with the Indian government. Your local politician won’t talk assimilation, as he or she would rather hold more power than a typical state government in India. However, for you, the youth, the best bet is to make the Valley truly part of India.
The rest of India should not ask for the removal of Article 370. The 7 million people in the Valley should. Kashmiri Pandits who were made to leave the Valley need to be brought back. Terrorism is no solution, nor revenge and retribution for Indian atrocities. Terrorism is only going to harm people in the Valley most.
So, it is youth in the Valley who have to now start a movement to really solve this problem. Get rid of Article 370. It is not empowering Kashmir. It is only empowering your local politicians, who frankly can do nothing for you without Indian integration.
Don’t blame the Indian army. It has the tough job of weeding out terrorists from a civilian population which is almost impossible without collateral damage, terrible as that might be. However, blame those truly responsible, the Pakistani army, the local leaders who exploited the situation and the experts who did nothing for you.
Don’t burst crackers when India loses. Don’t feel good when India fails.
Because if India fails, you will fail too.
Jai Hind. Jai Kashmir.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
This letter caught the controversy. Many of the columnists were throwing stones on Mr. Chetan Bhagat, literally. While someone invited Chetan Bhagat to live in the Kashmir for few days others gave all their sympathies to Kashmiris and told him not to defend India. While Mr. Chetan Bhagat has telling how the thing can be better, Mr. Sheikh Usman thought that only way to get better is by getting separated. Of course, things will always get better with separation but this is not same in the matter of nations. Look at Pakistan. Although, I think we are safe by getting separated from them because the poison Pakistani natives are being fed with is going to consume them. The same poison of orthodoxy is being fed to Indians but we are little more impervious to that.
One particular thing I noticed that Mr. Sheikh Usman has pointed out too many valid points. Indian Army personnel on the border are indeed getting insane. There is rampant corruption inside Indian Army and it’s being consuming the sanity of our Army personnel. Also, there is a rough environment inside and outside the training of Army man which left a bad impact on many army men. There is no denial that whatever Army does it the act of Government. If Indian Army is no longer capable of carrying out its job then the Union of India should admit more native Kashmiri Youth inside our Army so they may know how to protect themselves. Otherwise, we can make separate lawful Army of Kashmiri natives so they can start gathering knowledge of Army and start defending a nation they are with for so long.
The government must admit to the fact that there is a feeling of despair everywhere. In this situation, Kashmiris should start opening their views to the Union of India directly. This is media age and it will be like this forever. Now, a message in a little island can become viral news on the internet.
Separation was once a very easy task. It only took a handful people in a non-civilized and lawless state to divide it into millions of pieces but same is not with India. A separation in today’s world is very difficult, especially when the Government is being prevented from working by its’ opposition. I can tell you what will happen if the Government even tries to free Kashmir from the Union of India.
The proposal will be sent to the Parliament and there will be a riot inside the house, literally. We know what kind of Politicians we have in our Parliament. There will be huge cry inside the media and the Government will be pictured as a devil. The Politicians who don’t even know the exact population of Kashmir will start crying for it and the proposal will finally get inside the dustbin. There is no doubt that India is full of corruption. Kashmiris think that getting separated from the Indian territory will solve their problems. Maybe it will, but there is right now no way to achieve that.
It is quite a shame for Asia that while the west is uniting its’ land and formed the United States of America, we divided ourselves in even smaller land part. Creating more boundaries has never solved any problems, instead, it has created more. Mr. Shiekh Usman was trying to justify Kashmiris violent protest by giving the incidents where the Indian Army did atrocities. Somehow, anger in Kashmiris is valid, so is with the other people living across the country. Every wrong should meet with protest, violent or peaceful. The problem is, violent protest always ends up in deaths of people while peaceful protest always got ignored.
Right now, if an army man is doing something bad to you, you can record it and upload it on Youtube. If there is some problem in the local government, you can surely ask your elected local government to sort it out. Separation is not a measure for getting happiness. It will only make you weak. Smaller your state, sooner you will be enslaved. Mr. Sheikh Usman, according to the law, no Indian can purchase land in Kashmir but Kashmiri man can purchase land in India. We are sure using natural resources from Kashmir but that’s the part of the deal. Don’t you see how coal and minerals are being taken by private companies and sold to people in India? Same way we take things and give something back. India spends billions of dollars to defend Kashmir and you expect the same for nothing in return? That’s not going to happen at any cost.
I know that there are many people who think that we should let Kashmir live on its’ own. But what do you think will happen when we’ll leave Kashmir. Pakistan will feed on Kashmir from one way and Chine from another like they did in Gilgit and Tibet. For Kashmir, going from India to Pakistan is lose and lose situation and getting detached as an independent state is a dying situation.
So, it is now your choice to get separate and create a whole lot of hell or correct what’s bad inside the shell.
Note: Take this article as anything. Humour was the first element before I started writing serious stuff.