Kashmir is in the midst of witnessing one of the most comprehensive information blackouts in India’s modern history. This communication blockade is a result of the revocation of article 370 and annexation of the Kashmir State that took place on 5 August 2019.
This action not only strips the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status which comprises its right to have its own constitution and flag but also strips it from statehood and divides it into two union territories – Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh. This decision has brought the valley fully under the centre’s control writes Daily Sabha writer Mehraj Din.
Mehraj Din writes that the inception of the problem traces its roots back to the British rule. The Britishers left India which burned in the turmoil of the two-nation theory, wounds of which can still be witnessed in the Kashmir region. The question of Kashmir continues to escalate the dispute between the nuclear-armed neighbours – India and Pakistan.
Today Kashmir is one of the most heavily militarized zones in the world. More than 7 million soldiers patrol the region to what the Indian army itself admits is against just a handful of “Islamist terrorists.”
In just a span of past fourteen-years, the dispute has costed more than 4,600 security personnel and 13,500 civilians’ lives. Not only that but thousands have also disappeared, dozens of women raped, hundreds lost their sight due to pellet guns, tens of thousands have passed through torture centres. Kashmir once called “heaven on earth” has become hell for the people living there, states the writer.
The question of where the UN stands on the issue is vital and naturally arises. While the United Nations did make an effort to play peacemaker in Kashmir, it has stepped back since the 1970s, when the two nations agreed to take care of future differences through bilateral negotiations. However, mere discussions seem inadequate to bring peace in the region.
Din writes, ‘Their real enemy (of India) are the Kashmiri people, especially “Kashmiri Muslims” as was also reiterated by Pakistan’s President Imran Khan in a U.N. general assembly speech.’
However, the writer conveniently overlooks the atrocities and exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Jammu and Kashmir. The brutal exodus of Kashmiri Hindus took place in the beginning of 1990 when most of the Kashmiri Pandit families asked to either convert to Islam, die or leave from the Kashmir valley. Outnumbered and selectively targetted, Lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits families fled their homes during that ill-fated event. Mehraj Din sadly does not write a word on this.
He further says, ‘BJP’s policies and actions in the past five years have clearly demonstrated that it considers the Kashmir dispute as one revolving around religion, one between Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, discarding any charade about the need to consult the people of the state.’
Mehraj Din concludes saying that the abrogation of Article 370 will have dire costs in Kashmir and that one thing has become very clear, Kashmiris and those who know what continues to happen in Kashmir are conscious of the fact that the nationalist elites of Delhi maintain the power structures they had inherited from the colonial past.
The media coverage nationally and locally has failed to tell their tale and helped to put forth the narrative of radical nationalism. Mr Din’s interviews and exchanges with Kashmiri people disclose responses of deep suffering and contempt against the Indian state with recurrent angst for war as a solution. These sentiments are quite worrisome.
With communication cut out from the state of Kashmir and the major population in silence, the only ones voicing their opinions are people who do not permanently reside there. There remains a fog on the voice of the people in Kashmir. There will be a time when the blue moon arrives and the people of Kashmir will be seen clearly without the fog of misunderstanding and lack of communication that surrounds them.