The question of Kashmir is settled insofar as the position of all Governments of India since 1947 are concerned. It is an integral part of India and the unfinished task of reclaiming POK is incomplete. Whether or not this reclamation happens and/or the Loc becomes the De facto border, and whether or not India’s military might & economic muscle can ensure that nobody walks away with state territory, one must examine the matter of self determination for the people of Kashmir and its implications. It should be examined how much the fructification of a demand of one state affects the rest of the country and the interests of a billion people who will be affected. Indeed the geopolitical consequences in the entire region of South Asia and the Middle East need to be kept in mind.
This or any other Government may or may not allow or let pass the calls for self determination in JNU but no Government can avoid examining and assessing the implications of such Secession on the rest of India. No Government should avoid that in their calculations or they would be incapable of a calibrated response. As such it is the responsibility of the Government of India to be careful with movements which can escalate into dangerous situations.
It is equally necessary that an examination of this issue not be bracketed as being generated through ‘Nationalism’ since it will affect the lives of millions of people whether or not they subscribe to that concept.
This is important as recent developments demonstrate the ability of the Government to employ jingoistic and violent ruling party workers to bully and intimidate; and the capacity of the opposition to be bloody- minded & capable of enlisting the assistance of militant, violent, far left & insurgent groups to usurp power. Added to this, a deeply politicized and commercial media is of little help in debating critical issues.
Despite its romanticized echo in JNU, it should not be ignored that, the demand for secession of Kashmir is promoted, aided and abetted by Pakistan as a religious duty backed by military adventures on Indian soil and terrorist killings of Indians. It is considered by Pakistan as an unfinished agenda of Partition on the basis of a Muslim Majority in Kashmir. The raiding of Kashmir in October 1947 by Pakistan was not to create a free Kashmir but to forcibly take it. A part of the valley was taken by Pakistan which also gave a part of it to China. Indeed all secessionist movements of any consequence in India have been motivated, aided & abetted by Pakistan & China. Both bordering countries have fought wars with India and remain inimical to Indian interests.
The idea being propounded, that the demand for Kashmir’s freedom has nothing to do with Islam, and is only a political & class struggle is incorrect in my view. It is positioned in that manner by the exigencies of Marxist thought to serve the ideologies’ interests. Left- activism will resist accepting religious motives to be ascribed to this movement in Kashmir. If the truth of religious motivation is accepted Marxists will then have to denounce the ethnic cleansing and communal killing of Kashmiri pundits. This is anathema for the communists as it will annoy their militant supporters. ‘Islamic Jihad’ and ‘Maoists’ are seen by Marxists as their ‘armed wing’ and are therefore routinely provided intellectual and moral justification by the left intelligentsia.
Most of us are liberals but some of us are not left liberals. Even as many left- liberals take full advantage of India’s open markets, corporate growth and western education in India and abroad, for their children and indeed for themselves, they are quick to participate intellectually in promoting the left’s communist manifesto which seeks to destroy the very economic and social infrastructure from which both liberal typologies derive their well being. On the other hand many liberals respond to the Kashmir issue as one related to machismo and the bellicose nationalism of the Right wing and see any discussion on the subject a threat to the existence of India. They ignore the importance of the left which promotes the expression of anger of many of the diverse and the dispossessed and gives them the right and space to challenge the existing order.
I am not a ‘left liberal’ but I notice the obvious lines of divide within people of a liberal disposition on this matter and I am hoping that left Liberals can at this point comprehend the fact that the Sovereign Government of India, though influenced by the ruling party is not the ruling party. It is their Government too.
Of late the ‘intellectual’ & ‘Freedom of speech’ support for Kashmir’s Secession from India is being supported by children, college students and older citizens, without, in my view, giving the matter adequate thought and succumbing to the ‘flavour of the day’ rather than thinking it through.
It is not the purpose of this article to debate the strategic importance of Kashmir for India. Instead the social importance of Kashmir for India is sought to be highlighted here which I hope will be considered by all Liberals.
The scars of partition can be opened easily. It is not just the old who carry them. They are encrypted in a collective consciousness of both Hindus and Muslims and responsible for much alienation and strife between two Major religions in India
The secession of Kashmir will not be seen as a class struggle and the resolution of a political problem by a vast majority. A Kashmir that accedes to Pakistan or becomes a free nation will most likely be an Islamic state. Even though Indian Muslims outside Kashmir are not really active participants in this demand for secession, in effect, it will be seen as, as another partition of India led by a joint Pakistani and Muslim effort.
The ripples from such secession will have violent social consequences. It will create unprecedented anger & violence tearing at the fabric of Indian society which no liberal will be able to fix. This will be catastrophic as Hindus and Muslims, despite several cases of communal violence do manage live in relative peace.
Hindu Muslim relationship in India will change irrevocably or to say the least, for a very long time, and all liberals who loathe the idea of a Majoritarian Hindu India would have strengthened the case for a Hindu Nation. It will only help extremist right wing forces.
This cataclysmic event will not only help the communist manifesto of usurping the state and strengthen violent Maoists militancy and Islamic Jihad against India but would have a very deleterious effect on India Pakistan relationship for a very long time. It will, I daresay, have a negative impact on Pakistani society as well since it will embolden the religious fundamentalists and militants in Pakistan and in the Middle East. The expectations of Kashmiris will be high as they come in conflict for state benefits against the aggressive Punjabis in Pakistan. It is not clear how a decrepit military state like Pakistan will serve the ends of a Kashmir which is used to huge financial support from the central Governments of both India and Pakistan. While the impact may be far reaching geo politically as well, it is not the purpose of this article to extrapolate the consequences of the freedom of Kashmir to envisage its effect on the regions under threat from ISIS and Al Qaida in other regions of the world.
This is not to say that all or some of the consequences listed above will indeed occur. But all Governments and society at large should consider them as openly as possible.
It does not mean that borders across the world will remain fixed in perpetuam as history has seen many borders change. It also does not mean that Kashmiris’ seeking freedom need to worry about a law and order problem erupting in India after they are ‘free’. But it does mean that, those who choose to live in India, should examine the social implications of the’ right to self determination’ in Kashmir.