A conversation in Sopore and other stories

The street that connects that Malaknag and Chheni Chowk areas of Islamabad/Anantnag in south Kashmir. Photo by Nasir Patigaru, via Facebook, posted on 27 June.

Which Indian has not heard of General Dyer? General Dyer opened fire on unarmed protesters. Hundreds died, the figures are disputed between Indian and British version to this day. A commission of enquiry was set up by the English. General Dyer told the Hunter Commission, “I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.”

The same argument was made by many to defend Dyer. One of them was the then Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer, who as a result was assassinated by Udham Singh in 1940, 21 years later.

The action by Singh was generally condemned, but many Indians as well as people of several other countries felt he had carried out an act of great bravery and some press, like nationalist newspaper Amrita Bazar Patrika, also held positive views. The common people and revolutionary circles glorified the action of Udham Singh. Most of the press worldwide recalled the story of Jallianwala Bagh and held Sir Michael O’Dwyer responsible for the massacre. Singh was called a “fighter for freedom” and his action was referred to in the Times newspaper as “an expression of the pent-up fury of the down-trodden Indian People”. [Wikipedia]

Udham Singh was not a terrorist. He was a freedom fighter.

In her 2003 book Reporting the Raj: The British Press and India, c. 1880-1922, Chandrika Kaul writes:


In the last 18 days, 11 innocent people have been killed in Kashmir by CRPF troops. There is no Hunter Commission. Instead, the Indian Home Minister is blaming Pakistan-based terrorist group, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, for inciting the mobs.

And how does the press respond? The killing of a nine year old boy by the CRPF was frontpage in all the Delhi papers. Have a look at two copies of the same day’s Hindustan Times, Delhi edition, and spot the difference:

The early city edition’s headline read, “J&K burns, protests kill two more.” I couldn’t take my eyes off that headline for a while. It was, I thought, like saying ‘Protests Kill Hundreds in Jallianwala Bagh.’ Protest does not kill. Bullets do.

They must have realised how darn wicked that is, and changed it on the late city edition to, “J&K burns, 2 more killed”. While making the change, they didn’t say CRPF killed them. They just got killed.

That is not all. The day’s lead story was also about death – it’s all about death in India these days – death by accident. Death by accident on the Moolchand underpass, not far from where I live. The headline had a question: “5 dead in 5 days. Who’s to blame?” The stroy strongly attacked the Public Works Department of the Delhi state government for faulty road construction and for not putting a warning sign. In the late city edition they even got photographic evidence. In the Kashmir story, however, there were no questions, no blaming, no tone of outrage. Reporting the Sopre firing from Srinagar, the copy went:

The vicious cycle of death-protest-death continued unabated in Kashmir on Monday.

A day after the Jammu and Kashmir government called the CRPF “an uncontrolled force”, Tajamul Bashir (17) and Ashif Hasan Rather (9) died in firing by the force in Sopore and Baramulla, both 55 km north of Srinagar.

This brings the number of civilian deaths at the hands of troops to eight in 15 days, three of them in the past 24 hours.

Rather was part of a march to Sopore called by the separatist Hurriyat Conference to protest the deaths.


Now see the changed late city version:

The vicious cycle of death-protest-death continued unabated in Kashmir on Monday, with two more youths — one of them a nine year old — being killed in protest demonstrations, taking the total number of civilians killed this month to eight.

Tajamul Bashir (17) and Ashif Hassan Rather (9) died in firing by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Sopore and Baramulla, respectively, both towns north of Srinagar.

Bashir was part of a procession in Sopore that had gathered to mourn the death of Bilal Ahmed Wani (22), shot dead by the CRPF on Sunday.

The CRPF, however, claimed it had to fire because the procession turned violent.

It said the fracas began after a group of unarmed state policemen rushed into the CRPF camp to protect themselves from the protesters. “The mob attacked the CRPF post and forcibly tried to enter,“ said CRPF spokesman Ajay Chaturvedi in Delhi.

“The sentry had no option but to fire,“ he said.Similarly, nine-year-old Rather had joined a march called by the separatist All Party Hurriyat Conference, from Srinagar to Sopore, to protest Wani’s killing. Though all top Hurriyat leaders were arrested following the call, a large crowd assembled and the march began.

Their numbers swelled fur- ther at Baramulla, breaking down barricades placed by the police and attacking police vehicles, following which they were fired upon.

The current round of escalating violence began after a Sopore youth Tufail Ahmed Matoo (17), during a routine protest on June 11, was hit by a tear gas shell on the head and succumbed to his injuries. Violent protests and fierce repression have been a regular feature since then.

With inputs from New Delhi

The early city report gave the impression that 9-year-old Rather’s participation in the protest march called by separatists – yes, separatists! – justified his killing. That is toned down in the second version. The tone of outrage used in the Delhi accident story is completely missing. The CRPF spokesperson is quoted by the dead boys’ parents, or eyewitnesses, are not to be bothered with.

What is most interesting is the phrase “vicious cycle” – it’s a phrase that explains away the spate of “violence”. Protest, stone-pelting, fake encounters, militant clashes, strikes and the quelling of protests by killing unarmed or stone-pelting protestors – this is reported in the Delhi media not just with a lot of obfuscation and dishonesty, but also with a deliberate sense of confusion. A lay reader gets a general, vague image of “violence” – it’s just a lot of random violence taking place in Kashmir. Then, in op-eds and special reports, TV debates and Arnab Goswami’s yelling all get together to assure the Indian middle class that it’s all about Pakistan-Geelani-militancy-Islamism. And so, kill we must.

It takes an Associated Press report in a foreign publication to understand what started this “vicious cycle” this summer:

The latest street violence erupted after a police probe in June found Indian army soldiers had killed three Kashmiri civilians in a staged gunbattle and then claimed their victims were militants in order to claim a reward. The army responded by suspending two officers.

In an anti-India protest following the incident, a teenager who was reportedly just passing by was killed when he was hit in the head by a tear gas grenade fired by police.

That killing sparked more violent demonstrations and a police crackdown that killed 10 more people, according to police and witness reports.

“Our fight is against Indian occupation and as long as this military occupation continues this place will continue to witness human rights violations,” Masarat Alam, a top separatist politician, told reporters recently. According to police, Alam has gone underground to evade arrest. [Aijaz Hussain]

The Indian Express was the only Delhi paper which reported on the frontpage that it was more than just the killing of two boys – the report gave a sense of the scale of the protest in bullet points:

*The busy highway linking Srinagar to north Kashmir has been taken over by protesters, moving in large groups and chanting Azadi slogans.

*Felled poplars, stones and burning tyres are being used to block the road.

*Each time police and CRPF personnel in armoured vehicles run over barricades, people disperse into the paddy fields, only to regroup.

*Security forces had to fire tear smoke shells and resort to firing after protestors hurled stones and bricks at them.

*The barricades are being manned by dozens of angry young men who open the road only to let ambulances pass.

*At several points on the road, protesters have painted “Go India Go” signs. [Muzamil Jaleel]

“Go India Go” and “Quit Kashmir” are the clever new slogans of 2010, playing upon the slogans of the civil disobedience phase of the Indian freedom struggle. “Go India Go” is what they’re shouting from the mosques right now in Anantnag/Islamabad, a Facebook update tells me. It’s in English and it’s secular!

Facebok is full of posters like this one:

Just before this “vicious cycle” erupted, I was in Kashmir for ten days. I went to Kupwara, where the bodies of the fake encounter victims first arrived. The people who take care of the martyr’s graveyard told me that unlike most of the 100 odd bodies they have buried there since 1999, these three did not have their faces mutilated with bullets. Only one of them had a bullet on the nose. They got a photographer to take mugshots, published them in Kashmiri Uzma, and that is how their parents saw their missing sons. They had been taken to the Line of Control with the promise of porters’ jobs at a handsome Rs 500 a day. That is where this “vicious cycle” started but the Hindustan Times will not tell you that. Arnab Goswami will not tell you that. In that place on the LoC, “Machhil sector,” 17 such ‘Pakistanis’ trying to infiltrate have been killed.

On my way back from Kupwara, I stopped by in Sopore, the place which Indian journalists had declared “liberated” in the early Nineties. All of Kashmir today is a Jallianwala Bagh, but if there is a Jallianwala Bagh moment in the Kashmiri struggle, it has be the Sopore massacre of 6 January 1993:

New Choice in old Sopore. Photo by Shivam Vij, June 2010

Eyewitnesses in Sopore, a town surrounded by apple orchards in the high mountain valley of Kashmir, said that early on Wednesday Muslim separatists attacked a patrol of Indian security forces, killing at least one member of the Border Security Force. Then, for more than four hours, the security forces, who are mainly Hindus, wreaked revenge in a crowded shopping district. One Muslim woman said: ‘They went berserk. They were shooting women and children at random.’

The Border Security Forces sprayed a public coach with machine-gun fire, killing the driver and more than 15 passengers, said witnesses. Three other cars were also fired on, and then the paramilitary forces set the vehicles ablaze. Next, they began herding the native Kashmiris into shops and houses, said witnesses. Then the security forces shot them, splashed paraffin over the bodies and set the buildings alight. Officially, more than 250 shops and 50 homes were destroyed, but Kashmir sources claim that more than 450 buildings were burnt down. Another 25 bodies may still be trapped in the smoking rubble, claim witnesses.

Initially, the Indian government claimed that the deaths occurred during a shoot-out between Muslim militants and the paramilitary forces, when an explosives cache belonging to the militants blew up and flames spread to nearby dwellings.

But this version failed to explain why so many of the bodies were riddled with bullets. [The Independent, London, 8 January 1993]

In Sopore I met a former militant who now runs a shop. He and his friends were not interested in giving me a sense of those days. They were more keen to talk to me as though I was the Government of India. “Hindustan ko masla-e-Kashmir hal karna hi hoga! India will have to solve the Kashmir problem!”

So what is the solution, I asked. Azadi, they replied.

I said forget azadi, they are not even offering you autonomy or demilitirasation. How will you achieve azadi? You are, I said, like the hunted caught in the tiger’s jaw.

As long as we are alive, they said, we will continue to try and get out of it.

They admitted there were militants even now in rural Sopore. They said whether you demilitarise or get more troops, we will always long for freedom. That is what the Delhi establishment, elite and media are most afraid of acknowledging.

What did I think was the solution, they asked me. I said I don’t know. But as far as I can see, Delhi’s solution are these troops.

Shopian's Wall of Memory has names of 65 places where Indian forces have allegedly committed rape in the last 20 years. Photo by Shivam Vij, June 2010

People have been out on the streets in Kashmir for three summers now, demanding azadi. India has responded by killing a large number of innocent civilians merely protesting or stone-pelting. The Indian army has termed it “agitational terrorism” and “non-violent terrorism”. For them to use such terms is clearly a moral victory.

But the use of this innovative oxymoron also indicated something else – that India is far more comfortable dealing with insurgency than protest. It is as if India wants them to pick up the gun, so that it can project itself as a victim of “pakistan-sponsored terrorism”. The moment there is “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism”, there will be no opposition to killing with impunity and crushing the people’s desire to secede from India.

And that, all indications are, is where it’s all headed. In Shopian, where a double rape and murder case has been labelled as a case of mere drowning, I met a member of the committee that headed the protest last summer. He told me that they kep politicians and separatists of all hues out in the committee, that people said let’s not connect this to azadi. But when they were denied justice, it brought everyone to the same conclusion. The conclusion was written on the white board in his office, in Urdu and English: “Hum kya chahtey? Azadi! We want freedom.”

There’s a realisation that these protests last three summers are giving thir freedom struggle much more legitimacy than Pakistan-backed guerilla warfare in a post-9/11 world. But there’s also frustration, a growing sense that ‘India only understands the language of the gun’. And there’s also Obama’s impending exit of Afghanistan that may re-open Pakistan’s channels into Kashmir.

See also: Images on BBC Urdu

119 thoughts on “A conversation in Sopore and other stories”

  1. Excellent reporting but one concern I have is in this sentence:
    “Instead, the Indian Home Minister is blaming Pakistan-based terrorist group, the Lashkar-e-Toiba, for inciting the mobs.”
    Is “mobs” the right word? Isn’t it an indication of the pervasive-ness of the language of occupation, when used in an otherwise sympathetic account? Doesn’t “mobs” feed into Orientalist-turned-Islamophobic paranoia about the violence and irrationality of the Muslim? Isn’t it ultimately about our failure as Indians, even those of us who sympathize with the goal, to even comprehend why Kashmiris want independence and what they would do with it? Isn’t that what we have to work to understand and to communicate?
    Of course “inciting the mobs” may just be a quote from the Home Minister but in that case it should be marked as such?


  2. If the Kashmiri Muslims want freedom, they are free to turn to the west and keep marching and marching, till they reach a happy place… the land belongs to India.

    Mind you, I use the 2 words together – Kashmiri Muslims. For it is only muslim Kashmiris who want freedom from India. We know how the hindu and buddhist Kashmiris feel about it. But then its inevitable isn’t it ? Whenever a majority muslims will want a theocracy, freedom from kufr laws and kufr state.


    1. A clear expression of the Indian goal of ethnic cleansing – people like Prashant are actually performing a service in displaying the full extent of Indian fascism and the thinking behind it – carry on, please, and in fact, take it to as many international fora as possible, so the world can see the true face of “democratic” “secular” and “non-violent” India – you’ll find that this kind of talk (and the accompanying state violence in Kashmir) revolts decent people around the world who are sickened by the “war on terror” in all its guises and will eventually push the UN into taking action on the Kashmir issue – and not just the UN – the US already bans Narendra Modi from entering and Canada is denying BSF personnel visas for their part in crimes against humanity in Kashmir – and about time too


  3. I was a little disappointed to read that u said that, you did not know that an alternate solution could exist, and continued with your work i.e to report the situation. It is rather rare that a true version of their story comes out and also a true reaction reaches them. In today’s connected world the opportunities for peace are endless only is the truth is conveyed in the right places. It is necessary to have told them that there are people still in this country who sympathize with them, and they can still give peace a chance.

    Although, I do not agree with the tone of Prashanth’s reply I do agree with his suggestion.


  4. dear brother, i feel sorry for the Indians who are unaware of the feeling and situation in Kashmir. You live in ur own utopia and are nt ready to face the reality. the fact of the matter is that Indian state is moving to thefate which Pakistan these days is witnessing.

    i firmly believe it is the people like Arundhati Roy, Binayak Sen, Mani Shanker Ayer, Angana Chaterjee, and likes, because of whom the country stans.

    note down my words soon India as a country will be restricted to the Delhi only. Not only Kashmir but India has to break into hundreds of parts. Courtsy people like Prashanth.

    Ordinary Kashmiri


    1. I dont know..what sajid wants to say…but it shows in which world these people live..why not all kashmiries accept they are part of India? and This Sajid guy is referring to some Arundhati Roy.M.Ayyer etc. everyone knows how Massive???? fan following these people have got???? stop protests and stop showing that you are different than any other Indian..your problem will be solved automatically..


  5. small blue : “A clear expression of the Indian goal of ethnic cleansing – people like Prashant are actually performing a service in displaying the full extent of Indian fascism and the thinking behind it”

    Pleasure is all mine. But thanks are due to the wonderful Kashmiri muslims who taught us how to do this ethnic cleansing fascist stuff..

    You know, one must appreciate the way exemplary way in which Kashmiri muslims treated their brothers, the Kashmiri Pandits. Let us learn from the way the Kashmiri Pandits were killed, looted, threatened and had their women raped by the brave Kashmiri Muslims. Let us learn from the way the Kashmiri Pandits were systematically ehtnic cleansed by Kashmiri Muslims. Let us learn from the way the Kashmiri Pandits lost their homes and livelihood and live like beggars in the streets of Delhi because of the kindness shown by the wonderful Kashmiri Muslims. Yes. We Indians have so much to learn from our Kashmiri muslim brothers.


    1. Another comment from Prashant not overburdened by the truth – the simple device of displacing and projecting on Kashmiri Muslims the worst abuses of Indian forces does not convince anyone – murder and specially mass murder has a way of being found out, as do other crimes against humanity –
      and fyi, the history of Hindu rulers in Kashmir, documented over a thousand years, is of cruelty, oppression, exploitation, licentiousness and mass murder – I suggest you actually READ the Rajatarangini – it was in protest against such rulers that the population of Kashmir converted to Islam – if you are capable of doing any authentic research and honest thinking, try reading Mridu Rai’s Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects –


    2. prasant you’re distorting the facts…either you’re blissfully ignorant or you suffer from denial syndrome…what ethnic cleansing are you talking about??…250 pandits have been killed in last 20 years as compared to 90,000 kashmiri muslims….we all know ‘mass exodus’ was jagmohan’s brainchild to colour the freedom struggle as communal and alienate pandits from the cause…pandits fell into the trap of jagmohan and jingoistic indian media…pandits are traitors…they dumped their motherland for greener pastures…they don’t care about kashmir…all they know is how to cry and sulk and play the victim card to garner sympathy and for cheap economic benefits..


  6. Ordinary Kashmiri predicts :”note down my words soon India as a country will be restricted to the Delhi only. Not only Kashmir but India has to break into hundreds of parts.”

    Dear Ordinary Kashmiri , if wishes were horses, if pigs could fly, etc. etc.


  7. Kashmir does not just belong to the muslim inhabitants living there. Kashmir has a long history of association with rest of current India even before the muslim came and settled there. Killling and forcing non-muslim population out of kashmir, will not make it any less of an Indian place.
    If peace has to prevail, people of kashmir need to forget the past and try to improve the political situation like the rest of India.
    Shouting for independence after every rape that happens will not solve anything. Rape and killing is bad and should be stopped, but giving it anti-india angle will sideline the important issue the whole India is facing (of corruption in politics and police).


    1. I can say that plebiscite usually creates bad precedence and is not good for cohesive structure of sovereignty. But I am not going to say that for now since I want to make another point.

      Out-rooting kashmiri pandits from the valley started it in the recent memory. Then further violence ensuing in the valley made sure that the rest of hindu population (and some muslim families) migrating to other regions because of employment opportunity and peace of mind.

      One cannot just wake up one day and say, whoever is in the valley are rightful residents of the valley and responsible for taking decisions about the valley.
      Kashmir doesn’t just belong to the people living there but it belongs to the whole country.

      We all know what happened during the independence struggle of India/Pak. How much destruction of property and life happened with the violent influx of muslims from regions now in Pakistan during that time.

      Is this is coincidence that every year during Amarnath yatra, there are violent protests in the valley? Partition of India happened because muslims wanted another country, so right from start it was not just a political struggle but had strong bias based on religion as well.
      And if we are brave enough to admit this fact then we should see the history of kashmir before the muslim invasion started in 12th century and then talk about rightful ownership of the valley.

      Unless all the displacement of people caused by successive invasions in the valley is reversed, the question of plebiscite is meaningless!


    2. A plebiscite may not be good for sovereignity, but the question is whether sovereignity is a. desirable and b. paramount? What about self-determination?
      I personally think it’s an important point.

      “Rightful ownership of the valley”? As far as I know, that question is dependent on the inhabitants, who seem to want independence. The Hindu population was always a minority, and I’m not convinced that the Hindus were entirely satisfied with the Indian government in Kashmir- the JKLF was originally a secular organization.

      What according to you, are successive invasions?


  8. Dear Prashant,

    What if the British has said Indians can leave India if they want but India will remain the jewel of the Empire? What if they had taken away most Indians as indentured labour, some to Anadaman’s jails, pushed out the rest as refugees to neighbouring countries…

    That is no solution. The Kashmiri is not only saying he’s not Indian but also that Kashmir is not India. You can’t just come and occupy my house and ask me to get lost.

    I am saying this not to win an argument with you, and Kashmir is the last subject on which anyone can win any argument. But as someone who believes in India and the idea of India and the Constitution of India, I am more interested in saving exactly that in Kashmir: the idea of India, the spirit of freedom that the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution came from. If we as Indians are aware of the moral claim we had on the issue of colonialism, and that this moral claim led to our freedom, how can we be so immoral about Kashmir.

    I want you to think if there are any “solutions” other than, well, making all of Kashmir a Jallianwala Bagh. I think it is the responsibility of anyone who calls himself an Indian to think, to ask ourselves questions about Kashmir, to engage, rather than believe our own lies and be smug about our military control of Kashmir.

    I hope you will respond with introspection and ideas rather than hate and hyperbole.


    1. Firstly, The British India and the current Kashmir are no where comparable . We were oppressed , but the situation in Kashmir is unlawful and to some extent unsocial. As I see it, a part of the nation is uproar (needless to say why) and some section of it demand “freedom” from the state. Well if tomorrow the people of telangana demand something similar can the center show sympathy .

      And I do agree with you that we Indians should start looking for various solutions(we have more than a billion brains, some of them should work), and by Indians we Include Kashmiris. If they themselves dont want to try and come to a compromise whats the point in blaming others.


  9. Shivam Vij. Hope all indian cud possesses undersatnding like u.
    @prashant. With respect to Gandhi, do u think British left India because of the Lathi and nonvoilence of Gandhi. No. It was the sitaution at the world level that made British leave India. Similar is going to happen with india.

    This is not a wish. This is the pray of the mother of 9 year old who was killed by indians. A blood of an innocent 13 year Wamiq who was returning from tutions and was beaten to death by indians.

    Now the fight in Kashmir is not about guns but a fight between Zalim and Mazloom.

    Mazloom is always waeker in power and only weapon with him is patience. when zulam reaches its limits the unseen forces come into play. my words may sound insane to u, but this is \hw i feel. we supressed kashmiri’s always pray for the destruction of the zalim. our prays will be heard soon


    1. @Shahid : “Shivam Vij. Hope all indian cud possesses undersatnding like u.”

      Shivam Vij is a very unique Indian, perhaps the only Indian who flaunts the map of pakistan on his tweeter page. And Pakistan Occupied Kashmir(PoK) as Azad Kashmir. See for yourself: http://twitter.com/dillidurast (look the the image behind)


  10. I hope the next time around, you would press your interlocutors as to what exactly they have in mind when they talk of azadi. For those of us who are sympathetic to this demand — and yet committed to and indeed believe in the idea of India — this is important.

    For starters, do they recognize that the original UN plan is a non-starter? For one, it envisaged a straight choice between India and Pakistan but from what I understand most Kashmiri Muslims want a third option of an independent Kashmir. This was not there in the original plan. Second, whether the Kashmiris like it or not, the non-Kashmiri groups in the state do not share their aspirations. That does not mean that all the non-Kashmiris are happy being a part of India but it does indicate that they have different aspirations and those have to be taken into account. (Indeed, there has been a demand from the Ladakhi Buddhists to be governed directly from New Delhi — something extremely rare, I would think.) How do the Kashmiris propose to take these aspects into account? Are they okay, for instance, with a partition of the state? (Almost inevitably, since people do not live in nicely demarcated areas, there will be some population exchange.) What about those in the Pakistani part of the state?

    Lest I be misunderstood, I am not asking for all details. Yet, to move forward, we need to have at least some details as to what is meant by azadi. Madhu Kishwar, one of the few Indians to take the idea of plebiscite seriously (I give a reference to her article in a comment on another thread, initiated by Yasmin Qureshi.) draws a parallel with the demand for Pakistan where Jinnah, almost till the last moment, refused to spell out what exactly was meant by Pakistan. It is important that we not go down that route: if we are to give azadi to Kashmir, then, at the very least, let everyone be clear as to what that entails.


  11. Shivam,

    In what way is India’s rule in Kashmir ‘colonialist’ ?

    Kashmiri’s are Indian citizens and have the same rights with regard to self government as Tamils or Gujarati’s or Bengalis. They can vote for representatives to the Indian Parliament, travel and settle anywhere in India etc. I don’t believe that Indians during the Raj were sending representatives to Westminster or were equal citizens of the empire so your comparison with the British rule over India is misplaced.

    The struggle for an independent kashmir is on the basis of religion, so does that mean that all other districts across India which are the size of the Kashmir valley but which have a muslim majority should also be given independence if they want it ? Does the confirmation and reiteration of the two nation theory square well with your concept of the idea of India ? And do you feel that the break up of India that Shahid is praying for is likely to be achieved without bloodshed on a massive scale ?


    1. Safiya,

      The acts that you outlined were only applied after 1990 when the armed struggle began. I’m not arguing for an indefinite military presence in Kashmir or that military abuses should not be highlighted and punished, but that does not still equate to kashmir being like India under British rule or that India see’s kashmir as a colony.

      As to the religious nature of the demand, are non muslim kashmiri’s prominent in the ‘freedom struggle’ ? The ethnic cleansing of the Pandits show’s how non-religious this struggle really is. I can understand if you feel that kashmiri muslims deserve their own homeland or that they should have been part of Pakistan in 1947, but let’s not try and paint this as a fight for a ‘secular’ Independent Kashmir as that is not what is being fought for.


  12. Shahid Mian, were the Kashmiri Pandits ‘zalim’ too ? Is that why the brave ‘mazloom’ ordinary Kashmiri muslims like you looted, threatened, killed them and raped their women ? Is that why you chased them away from their homes in Kashmir ? Is that why you now occupy their homes ?

    You are not smart enough to understand this. But the world will not agree with your idea of ‘zalim’ and ‘mazloom’. Atleast 1 billion Indians dont.


    it is very disingeneous of you to equate Indian rule in Kashmir with British rule in India. Kashmir has always been a part of India. For thousands of years. Our hindu scriptures are full of references to Kashmir. It is said that the immortal Lord Hanuman is still around in the mountains of Kashmir.

    It is only over the last few hundred years that Islam became a majority religion in Kashmir. And it is only over the last 2 decades that the hindu population became almost nil in Kashmir. Why ?

    Just because muslims become a majority, rape, pillage, murder and ethnic cleanse the kufr minority and ask for a separate state, should they be given one ?

    The battle for Kashmir is a Dharma Yuddha. Battle against evil. And for the sake of good, India must win. Kashmiri separatists and their Pakistani friends must be defeated.


    1. Prashant ji! Very nice comment.

      Tathastu! (So be it!)

      Remember there is another tradition of Nath Yogis from Kashmir, and Lord Shiva’s third eye not only gives us light, but can also purify darkness by blasting them with light energy of destruction.

      But then we also have a tradition of balance of gunas, and have learnt that lesser evolved minds need time to come to such higher state of intution, and can even forgive their short-sighted thinking and learn to live with everyone and allow them to evolve better minds in their own slow pace.

      And these extremists want to eradicate this truth from that holy land!!

      This is indeed about a DHARMA YUDHH for TRUTH & PEACE!!

      Another Mahabaratha, another war. For which, naad (conch shell) has been blown in small pockets in mind of Santana Dharma. So please don’t encourage another such war and killing of people and learn the truth of the land…


  13. I don’t think I have ever read clear account of events in Kashmir as I have read on this blog. All conflicts that exist in that region today are superficial, created by leaders who have wanted to control the area. It is the Indian version of ‘divide and rule’.


  14. Firstly Kashmir is and never is a part of india.
    There is no mention of Amarnath in books of hindus. the rituals and practices of pandits are different, they eat meat and lots of it, if i am correct even beef. Pandits used to have top posts in bureaucracy of maharaja. hence they were not part of the struggle. tomorrow u might say maldives,srilanka thailand are parts of india coz they are hindus. pandits were not the parts of the struggle, but some were hardcore freedom activists as prem nath bazaaz a rock of the struggle. LISTEN INDIA WILL NOT BE ABle to take kashmir away nevw-er, freedom forever, tell me evidences of rapes of pandits. and tell me who fleed them, it was India. ethnic cleansing of kashmiris is being carried out but victory is ours, coz sat yameva ja ate


    1. @Faysal Mian,

      You reveal your true identity by showing your lack of knowledge of India, hindus, and hindu scriptures.

      People like you were deemed mleccha (meaning non-Vedic, barbarian).
      Unfortunately, you don’t even remember how your ancestors were perhaps converted to Islam some two thousand years ago. Sanatana (Eternal) dharma will prevail and hopefully you will understand the truth, in this life or next.


  15. Ashutosh,

    All that you are saying is in my view red herring. Why must a people who want freedom not be free? That is the basic question.

    You are of course not talking about my post at all. It does not bother you that you want Kashmiris to be Indians but you have no condemnation to offer for the human rights abuses outlined in my post.

    You first spoke about the will of the people – pointing out that there were Kashmiris, such as the Pandits, who did not want azadi. So let’s have a plebiscite I said. You changed tack to talking about Hindu ties with Kashmir. Lets’s how some intellectual honesty please. Let there be a plebiscite. What makes you think that if kashmiri Pandits in Delhi are allowed to vote for the J&K assembly elections sitting in Delhi they will not be allowed to vote in the plebiscite?

    You are trying to defame the Kashmiri movement by generalising it as communal. Yes it is true that Kashmiris would not have been asking for azadi had they all been Hindu. So let me turn around and ask if India would have treated Kashmir the way it did if they were all Hindus.

    We also have cultural ties with Nepal and Sri Lanka… oh, now I know, you must be the Akhand Bharat type.

    You attack me for the map that is my twitter background. I chose that map because it was the Punjab in it that I found fascinating. My father’s parents were from Multan and my mother’s from Lahore. As a result, I can’t help but be obsessed with west Punjab, and this rare map draws out all of Punjab criss-crossing India and Pakistan. It gives me a sense of how large Punjab is.

    I had not even noticed the Azad Kashmir in it. But now that you point out Azad Kashmir let me say three things: one, that it is a factual map. That part of Kashmir is under Pakistan’s control and it is a lie to show it as part of India.

    Two, that I have no problem with it being called Azad Kashmir because Pakistan has chosen to call it so, just as I have no problem with Amethi being called Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar :)

    Three, that I have no illusion that Azad Kashmir is ‘azad’. Pakistan has done whatever it has on and with Kashmir on both sides of the LoC for its own interests and not in the interests of the Kashmiri people. It is no surprise that a very negligible section of Kashmiri Muslims desire merger with Pakistan. On what the Kashmiri Muslims want, see this recent poll: http://kafila.org/2010/06/13/mohamad-junaid-what-does-the-chatham-house-poll-in-kashmir-tell-us/

    You talk about the violence of Partition to argue against independence of Kashmir. Don’t you realise a major British argument to deny India independence was precisely that India would disintegrate, Hindus and Muslims will be killing each other all the time, that India would not remain a democracy? If ten million died in the Partition’s displacement of 14 million, a lakh Kashmiris have already died to argue for independence for a Valley of 70 lakh people.

    You who call the Kashmiri struggle communal talk of Dharm Yudh and the Mahabharat against an independence struggle waged by Muslims. You ignorantly suggest that there is trouble in Kashmir at the time of Amarnath Yatra. You do not realise that the movement is waged in the summer because the winter is harsh. You do not realise that not a single Amarnath yatri has been harmed or inconvenienced (you actually want violence against Amarnath yatris, it seems, to be able to argue against Kashmiri independence) even though it is well known that right-wing Hindu organisations have over the years mobilised people to go to Amarnath, which unlike Vaishno Devi was never a major pilgrimage, only to make a provocative point to Kashmiri Muslims wanting azadi.

    And finally, sadly, you seem to have no remorse over incidents such as the Machhil fake encounter or the killing of boys as young as 9 and 14. I am waiting for you to justify it.


    1. So let me turn around and ask if India would have treated Kashmir the way it did if they were all Hindus.

      Surely, yes. What makes you think otherwise? The Indian state comes down with a heavy hand when faced with any violent challenge to its authority. Indeed, the first time human rights became an issue in India was during the Naxalite movement in West Bengal in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It became an issue simply because many middle-class Bengali college students (mostly Hindus) got involved in the movement and found themselves at the receiving end of police brutality. More recently, the Indian military, has been accused of brutality in Assam which is, at least as of now, a Hindu majority state.

      If you want further proof that the Indian state would not behave much differently, look across the border. Drawing a parallel between the Indian and Pakistan states will no doubt irritate “psuedo-nationalists” in both countries but we ought to note that both states have a common ancestor in the British Indian state and therefore, not surprisingly, their behavior in many ways is exactly the same. How exactly did the Pakistani army behave in (former) East Pakistan which was mostly Muslim? We forget that the Pakistan army was, and to some extent still is, fighting its own people in Baluchistan — a totally Muslim area. (For a history of the Baluchistan conflict, check the Wikipedia page. It has been going on with breaks as long as Kashmir or Nagaland.)

      This is not the place to discuss nationalism, but to the best of my knowledge, there haven’t been too many instances of nation-states accepting secession peacefully. The bloodiest war to date in US history was the Civil War which was fought over exactly this issue. The Indian state, like its Pakistani counterpart, is completely true to this tradition of violently resisting any attempt to secede and I think you are off-base in attributing religious motives to it. However, I can well understand that many Kashmiri muslims will beg to differ.


  16. Prashant you write that Kashmir has been part of India for thousands of years. Do you realise that India has not been around for thousands of years but only since 15 August 1947!

    What exactly do you mean that Hindu scriptures are full of references to Kashmir? Are you suggesting India is a Hindu state? Do you know why Gandhari in the Mahabharat is called Gandhari? Gandhari comes from Gandhar, today called Kandahar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gandhara

    Would you say India should invade Afghanistan and Pakistan because Hindu texts have references to many places in these countries?


  17. Shivam,

    Are you saying that the Kashmiri struggle is not communal ? What’s there to defame in describing it for what it is. This does not mean that you can’t justify it or be in favour of it, but at least we should be clear as to the reasons for it.

    Do you feel that the Indian State is oppressing Kashmiri’s because they are muslim ? If that is the case and the Kashmir Valley were to be given its independence on those grounds, then surely the case for multiple muslim homelands across India is justified.

    As to the cultural distinctiveness of Kashmiri’s as opposed to the rest of India, how are Kashmiri’s more distinct than Keralites to the rest of India ? In fact you could argue that Kashmir has been linked politically/culturally to Northern India for a lot longer than Kerala has. Would Muslims from Kerala be justified in demanding an independant homeland , and should that demand be granted if it was made ?


  18. I do not have the time and energy to read all of your post and all of the comments, but as a Kashmiri myself, I want to warn against the attempt by you, and by Kashmiri separatists to equate their struggle with India’s freedom struggle against the British. Whatever Kashmiri Muslims (KMs) may think, and for whatever reason they may think so, Kashmir’s freedom struggle is not same as India’s freedom struggle. About the British, there was no ambiguity about their being foreign occupiers. India is not a foreign country that came to occupy Kashmir. KMs have no other justification for calling India occupiers, other than their need for nizam-e-mustafa. Kashmir is historically, religion-wise, geographically, very much a part of India. Kashmiri Muslims have no more right to ask for separation from India than the Muslims, e.g., of Hyderabad. Yes, their proximity to Pakistan makes their claim for being Pakistani more valid — and for that reason, I wish Kashmir had been separated out from Jammu and Ladakh in 1947 and given to Pakistan. But equating India with Britain is mischievous and evil.


  19. Shivam,
    Brilliant post! you have proved time and again through your writings that indian democracy is a sham. in your other posts you have also shown how the indian state is anti-dalit, it is hounding mayawati and bsp just for the sake of promoting upper caste interest and more specifically gandhi family represented by Rahul Gandhi. It would be interesting if you can also bring in indian states anti people and undemocratic operation in the NE and naxal affected regions and show how the entire scheme is connected with J&K and UP/BSP. I mean isnt there a connection between militarisatipon of J&k, antidalit policy in UP/BSP and corporatisation, mining etc in naxal affected zones. please write if you have time


    1. i agree with zahid there is a clear cut connection with upper caste class rulers of indias attitude towards kashmir, north east , naxalites , poor tribals and dalits it is colianialist anti poor anti dalit it is extremely brahminiacal and pro corporate


  20. Plebiscite, is it? Notwithstanding the “legality” of the measure even under worthless UN resolutions, what does it exactly mean? So we do a plebiscite in J&K to decide whether J&K want to remain in India or be “independent”…Presumably, given the numerical majority of the Kashmiri muslims, the result will be the latter? Ok, thereafter, why shouldnt the buddhists of Ladakh have the same privilege of a plebiscite within “indpenedent’ J&K? To decide if they want to live in an islamic emirate or be “independent” themselves…Ditto for the districts of Jammu as well, another plebiscite to decide whether Jammu-ites want to be independent of J&K? I think for good order’s sake a third one for the Kargil district (given its predominantly shia population) as well as a fourth for Doda (given its mixed, almost 50:50 hindu-muslim population) should be conducted…

    While we are at it, the residents of Bandra (and the western suburbs) want a plebiscite to be independent of “Mumbai”, given the step-motherly treatment accorded to it compared to South Mumbai! And yes, residents of Pali hill and Turner Road too want to secede from the western suburbs – given how the traffic originating from there to South Mumbai has screwed up life for the denizens of an erstwhile sleepy Turner Road…Must have a plebiscite there as well..

    After we are through with all such plebiscites, wonder how many times one would have to clear immigration while commuting to work from Andheri to Churchgate?!!!


    1. Hello, Mr Somnath, did you know that unlike all your other facetious examples, Kashmir had been promised a plebiscite – along with another princely state Junagarh? Did you know that Junagarh (with a Hindu majority population) was annexed and a plebiscite held within months of independence, while Kashmiir was cheated by the Indian state and denied the promise? There is a historicity to the demand and no amount of your bullshitting prose hides the fact that you remain a person with blinkered vision who simply marshals ‘data’ to ‘prove’ any nonsense of the Indian state.


  21. From Zahid’s comment, you should realize how you are becoming a pawn in the hands of anti-India elements. Please go ahead, fulfill his wishes — you are a great writer. Don’t forget to brush aside the greatness of India’s unique secularism and greatness, inspite of well-wishers and dreamers like Zahid and so many ohters.

    Somnath brings up a very good point. Also, don’t forget that the “independence” plank is another sham. Ask yourself, would Kashmiris have been fighting if Kashmir had gone to Pakistan in 1947?


  22. The connection of Kashmir(i) to Jallianwala Bagh is very intimate. Many who died at the Bagh that day were Kashmiri Muslims who had migrated south due to persecution from the occupying regimes (see public records for the former and Mridu Rai for more on the latter).

    The protests that culminated on April 13, 1919 at Jallianwala Bagh were spurred by demonstrations against the imprisonment of Saifuddin Kitchlew (a Kashmiri Muslim, born in Amritsar) and his colleague Satyapal who had been protesting the Rowlatt Act. In fact the Bagh gathering was symbolically presided by Kitchlew’s portrait on the dais. One such portrait still hangs at the martyr’s gallery there.


    1. If the “Kashmiri Muslims” who gave their lives read what you have written , They would have died of shame than of bullets. They were Indians,Indians with a single dream, irrespective of where they had come from.


  23. @all indians:(1)so what if kashmir was a part of india eons ago,does that give indians a license to rule us for eternity??
    (2)why should we bear the brunt of animosity between india and pakistan…kashmir is not just a piece of land..it’s not a colonial leftover…it’s the dream of millions of kashmiris…why should we sacrifice our freedom for larger geo-political reasons?…think for a moment and answer sincerely..won’t peace prevail if kashmir is granted independence??…after all pakistan and india have fought three bloody wars over kashmir..if they will set us free there would be no bad blood between them…
    (3)why are kashmiri muslims who want independence communal??…why not pandits??..had india been a muslim majority would pandits still want to be with india?…
    (4)if india claims to be the world’s largest demon-crazy then why haven’t we kashmiris been given the right to self-determination?..


  24. @Ali
    1) The question is not “why not freedom”, the question is “why freedom”? If every ethnically and linguistically different people deserve a separate nation, then you will have ten nations within J&K. What makes you different from Punjab or Kerala? What makes you special? If it is Islam, then you belong to Pakistan, and I wish you had gone to Pakistan in the first place, but in 1947 fate played a different game and now it seems too late for all parties in the game. Still, you can keep fighting and get your wish of being ruled by the Taliban. Independence for Kashmir has no logic whatsoever. You have the choice of being part of a nation that trains the world’s engineers and doctors and one that trains the world’s terrorists.

    2) Will peace prevail if Kashmir separates from India? I don’t know. Did peace prevail when India and Pakistan were divided on religious grounds? Who knows what another religious partition will do to the region?

    3) Pandits were neither removed by Jagmohan nor were they traitors. They left because terrorist outfits posted notices in newspapers asking them to leave. They wanted no part of your nizam-e-mustafa. They did not want to live in a Talibanized atmosphere which was being created there in 1989-90. They were being denied opportunities even when things were peaceful. If living in Kashmir meant saying Pakistan zindabad, we were better off without Kashmir. We were not traitors to our nation. Only your definition of nation was different from ours. If the number of Hindus killed was less it was because their number was less in the first place, and also because they did not take to the streets fighting their own country. To your accusation of calling us complainers, I’d say that you guys are bigger cry-babies getting all economic advantages from India and then abusing India.

    4) I condemn all human rights abuses that occur in Kashmir or elsewhere. When such incidents are perpetrated by government forces, it is even worse. However, it is the separatist movement that makes the Indian forces seem like they are in enemy territory, and the world’s best trained forces commit such mistakes in such an environment. If the separatist movement ends, they will have no business being there. Until then, it is war and unfortunately everyone suffers in a war.

    5) India does not claim to be the largest democracy in the world. It is one. And no democratic country in its right mind starts giving all of its regions “rights to self-determination”.


    1. (1)why freedom??…because kashmir was always an independent country and india and pakistan have occupied us illegaly…
      (2)india trains the world’s doctors and engineers…good joke..you made my day..lol!!..india is home to 1/3 of the world’s poor..come of out your 10% growth rate dream and learn to accept the reality..80% of indians live on less then 20 rupees a day(official govt statistics)…i don’t believe corrupt india media..your media has demonized pakistan and projects all pakistanis as terrorists…i’m not saying there are no terrorists in pakistan,but indians are not saints either…ain’t sadhvi devi,bajrang dal,modi,abhinav bharat,rss,and other fascist hindutva organisations terrorists???..abhinav bharat is responsible for malegaon blast,ajmer attack,hyderabad mosque attack et al..doesn’t that amount to anti-national conspiracy??…two bajrang dal activists died while making bombs…why ain’t it being declared a terror oufit??..they kill people,they terrorize,and humilate minorities,they rape women..why haven’t they been banned??..why only SIMI??..this is hypocrisy at its peak..
      (3)india and pakistan have fought three bloody wars over kashmir…kashmir is the bone of contention..kashmir is the root cause of all the conflict…infact it’s the only cause of conflict…why won’t peace prevail if we are granted independence..
      (4)did kashmiri muslims run away to iran or arab when maharaja hari singh and pandits ruled the roost in early 20th century…when kashmiris were ill treated,killed,harassed,humiliated,massacred..they stayed back and fought for their rights…why did pandits support india??..of course because of their religious allegiance..why didn’t they support their countrymen…ain’t pandits communal..if kashmiri muslims want an independent kashmir on religious grounds they are communal,but pandits are not??…they betrayed their nation..they are runaway opportunists..they were promised of lucrative future..now that they are well settled in indian cities..they play this victim card every now and then just for economic benefits and sympathy…
      (5)what economic benefits do we get from india??…india loots our water and mineral resources..won’t it be better if india invests the money that it wastes on defence and kashmir for socio-economic upliftment of poor indians…india is home to 1/3 of the world’s poor..it’s the most underdeveloped countries..no don’t brag about glitzy malls and 30 odd forbes billionaires..that doesn’t make you rich ..20 crore indians sleep on empty stomachs..80% indians live on less than 20 rupees daily..accept the reality…you people are poor,starved,improveshid,malnourished,hungry,naked,snake charmers..and those of you in metros are call center and MNC labourers…indians executives are paid 1/3 of what europeans are paid in arab..poor,hungry slaves :'(..


    2. (6)protest is a fundamental right in a democracy..mind you this time around the protests started because a teenager was killed..why can’t people protest against the killing of innocent teenagers..when people go on protest marches,they don’t carry stones along,it’s only when crpf erects barricades and stops unarmed protesters from marching ahead that they in a fit of rage resort to stone pelting…stone pelting is unplanned,on-the-spot,knee-jerk reaction…who greets unarmed protesters with bullets??..if you remember there were violent protests in punjab recently,the protesters went berserk,but did police open fire on them??…no because their life is not as cheap as that of kashmiris…is firing at unarmed protesters a mistake??..
      (7)india is a slap on the face of democracy and secularism…which democracy fires bullets at it’s peacefully protesting citizens??..which democracy elects a murderer as CM??..where do terrorists like narendra modi,advani,babu bajrangi rule the roost??..where are minorities slaughtered,brutalized,their women raped??..who can forget gujrat pogrom??…babri masjid killings??..killing of christian missionaries in orrisa..killings of poor adivasis in orissa,bihar,chattisgarh,andhra…genocide of kashmiris,manipuris,nagas..india is a democracy,ain’t it??…


  25. there are two sides of the coin, as always..Here is the face of “unarmed, peaceful” protestors:


    Wonder why “spontaeneous, non-violent, protestor” types need face masks?

    Ali, there is no point trying to reason with you on data and facts (on India or Kashmir) – you probably wont understand/comprehend..But borrowing a Naom Chomsky doctrine – there is a difference between advocacy and “desired ideal objectives”..From your standpoint, your desired objective is an “indpendent Kashmir”…But the fact is that India is never ever going to accede to that…Bsides rthe “ludicrousness” of a plebiscite that I pointed out in an earlier post, India is just too strong, important, powerful and opinionated on the issue to grant independence…So what next? Do you have an alternative? Given that your only “supporter” ovr the issue is the rogue and failed state of Pakistan?


    1. “More than 12 news channels. 12 killed! Several injured! But all they obtained was a pic of a trooper being beaten up by “anti-India” elements”(read it somewhere on facebook)

      what about this:http://greaterkashmir.com/news/2010/Jul/1/default.asp
      and this:http://greaterkashmir.com/news/2010/Jun/30/3-teenagers-killed-in-islamabad-70.asp
      and this:http://greaterkashmir.com/news/2010/Jun/30/they-left-families-shattered-dreams-unrealized-63.asp
      and this:LOOK AT THIS 9 YEAR OLD ENEMY OF INDIAN NATION…. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4389610&op=1&o=global&view=global&subj=100000838072350&id=672765605&fbid=411356900605
      Zain Nalband, 9 years old, Resident of Safa Kadal, Srinagar, Indian Occupied Kashmir. This boy was beaten by Indian Central Reserve Police Force on 01.07.2010 without any rhyme and reason. They Just came, spotted the kids, tried to lynch them, almost killed them and left again for the hunt. This kid received 32 stitches on his head. Trauma in eyes and other parts of the body.
      Somebody ask OM , the so called Chief minister of the state,
      What is the age of his own kids.?
      Somebody ask Arnab Goswami, TV Journalist of Indian Times Now TV Channel,
      Where were your foot soldier (local reporters) when Indian brave forces were beating this “paid stone pelter” ?
      Someone tell Chitambaram, The Home minister of India,
      LeT commander has been beaten by your brave Force? :

      why don’t they show you these pictures??..this speaks volumes about biased indian media…it’s media jingoism at it’s bloody best..

      i already said,let me repeat/re-post it for you:”protest is a fundamental right in a democracy..mind you this time around the protests started because a teenager was killed..why can’t people protest against the killing of innocent teenagers..when people go on protest marches,they don’t carry stones along,it’s only when crpf erects barricades and stops unarmed protesters from marching ahead that they in a fit of rage resort to stone pelting…stone pelting is unplanned,on-the-spot,knee-jerk reaction…who greets unarmed protesters with bullets??..if you remember there were violent protests in punjab recently,the protesters went berserk,but did police open fire on them??…no because their life is not as cheap as that of kashmiris…is firing at unarmed protesters a mistake??..”

      what data and facts are you talking about…go ahead,trust me i am not as dumb as you think i am.

      yes,india is too powerful:india is a fascist,totalitarian state which doesn’t shy away from using brute force against civilians.

      britian was more powerful than india,and enslaved india for 150 years,they also denied you freedom like you’re denying us,but that didn’t bog you down…your freedom movement inspires us to fight for our rights…we have every right to fight for our freedom like you indians had..we want freedom from india and pakistan like you wanted from britian…no force on earth can enslave us..we kashmiris will fight for our rights till the last drop of our blood,nothing can bog us down…and yes,i would like to add something which one of my indian friends said:”to deny kashmir freedom would be to deny everything india has ever fought for”..


  26. Ali, ideals of fairness , such as democracy, ahimsa, secularism are not ready made packaged gift items. You need to stick to them no matter what, to get them. A peaceful protest turns violent because their opponents were violent,does that sound like sathyagraha to you.

    Every statistic you have, can be countered , but like Somnath said you probably cant comprehend them. One has to open their eyes to see what is in front of them, and not deduce from random pictures.


    1. (1)you’re in a denial mode…you don’t want to accept that it’s your crpf which provokes people to pelt stones by erecting barricades and stopping them form marching ahead…why at all do they have to resort to such measures??…why don’t they allow them to register a protest..if kashmir is an integral part of india,and if india is a democracy then,kashmiris have every right to protest..protest is a fundamental right in a democracy…why ain’t protesters in punjab and other parts of india greeted with bullets..as i said before there was a protest in punjab recently and the protesters there went berserk ,how many died??..did punjab police fire at violent protesters??..why are water cannons and in extreme cases lathis or tear gas shells used against violent protesters in india and bullets fired at violent protesters in kashmir??…why is kashmiri life so cheap??…yes one has to open one’s eyes to see what’s in front of him…open your eyes and see what’s in front of you…the thing is you have no opinion of your own,you have an opinion which has been thrusted upon you by jingoistic indian media..you are just another hyper-nationalist…to quote sajad lone:”yours is an extreme case of lunatic nationalism”..

      go ahead and bombard me with your facts and statistics…i am not as myopic and dumb as you think i am..of course you and somnath are in an all together different league,i don’t deny that,but please enlighten this ignorant,bird-brained young kashmiri…i too want to be a warehouse of facts like somnath…


    2. correction:”of course you and somnath are in an all together different league”..
      it’s:”of course you and somnath are in an altogether different league”


    3. what do you accept people to do when crpf stops them from marching ahead??..go up to the crpf personnel and tell him to empty his rifle on our chests..i condemn violence..i am against violence..i am against militancy,but to tell you a fact:militants have taken a backseat now,it’s the common man who is at the forefront of freedom struggle now,and he too is treated as a militant,he too is greeted with a bullet…freedom struggle is a people’s movement,people don’t deserve bullets..and yes one more thing:book hartal,satyagrah and other tactics don’t work in fascist states like india…


  27. I congratulate kafila and shivam vij for highlighting the atrocities committed by the indian state in J&K. I am glad that Kafila has shown the guts to support plebisite and self-determination in J&K. Shivam Vij has hit the nail on its head when he states that Kashmiris are being discriminated because they are muslims. if they were hindus kashmir would be peaceful. India is doing in kashmir what english did to india and in jallianwala bagh. congratulations kafila and shivam for demonstrating bravely and consistently that india is a fascist state and kashmir just a sympton


  28. Woohoo!! DataMan Somnath is back. How come he keeps coming back to Kafila to engage with all the anti-data, floozy, flimsy, anti-Indian, anti-development psychos here, especially if he is so, so, so very sure of the answers? If he has nothing to learn anymore? Whats up, DataMan? Can’t digest your morning coffee without Kafila?
    And moderators of this site, can you please remove the ‘mlechcha’ comment by Ashutosh? I know you believe in freedom of speech, but as a practising Hindu, I am embarrassed and shocked by this level of bigotry and casteism, compounded by the fact that its directed against a member of another religion.


    1. you are sitting in your a/c room,sipping coffee,and hurling insults at kashmiris when you don’t have an iota of idea about the reality…don’t be a keyboard warrior,come to kashmir if you want to know the reality…it’s very easy to pen down stuff while lying on one’s couch and label traumatized people as psychos…you can’t feel our pain,you haven’t suffered,i have suffered…you’re blissfully ignorant,educate yourself and then blabber…


  29. You could very well have directed me to your site kashmir.wordpress.com for these half truths.

    (1) India not being historically part of India is a figment of your imagination and this opinion is not shared by all people of the state.

    (2) > india trains the world’s doctors and engineers…good joke..you made my day..lol!!..

    Laugh all you want, but look at a hospital or a corporation in any developed country. A disproportionate number of people are trained in India. Look at a terrorist plot in the same country. A disproportionate number of people are trained in Pakistan. The choice is yours, and so are the consequences. All the problems you are talking about come from a Pakistani media perspective, who keep wishing away India’s achievements. Yes, India has problems, but its progress and even survival in spite of those problems is commendable. You choose to look at only negatives, and close your eyes to the positives. In which other country can you see minorities such as Sikhs as PMs, Muslims as presidents (multiple times), Dalits as CMs or presidents, Christians as CMs and defence ministers and party presidents? From film industry to corporate boardroom to the underworld, Muslims are everywhere. So are Sikhs and other minorities. In riots, which are unfortunate events, Muslims are so many times not only the instigators, but active participants. That is the nature of the beast. Blaming just one side helps nobody.

    This doesn’t mean there are no problems. Even most advanced countries have problems, but that doesn’t mean you can call India a demoncracy. There are some positives with Indian democracy which even most advanced countries cannot dream of.

    All the social problems that India has, are shared by Pakistan and the whole South Asian region. You cannot disown them. Calling India poor will not make Kashmir or Pakistan rich or advanced countries. Separating from India is not going to improve anything for Kashmir. Go look at what your guys are doing to Shias, Ahmadiyas and other people believing in Sufism, not to speak of minorities like Hindus and Sikhs. On the other hand, the growth and progress that India is making are India’s alone.

    In Kashmiri we have a phrase called “khyen manz wokus”, which is what you people are suffering from. I hope you know what that means. If you start a war unto “death or victory” then don’t complain about the problems that come with it.

    But then, let protests live on, let blogs such as this, and yours, live on, because openness to dissent makes us strong. If that means a free Kashmir one day, let it be. To me, it looks like a pipe dream.

    Yunan-o-misr-o-roma sab mit gaye jahan se
    Ab tak magar hai baki namo-nishan hamara
    –sare jahan se achha… (Allama Iqbal)


    1. (1)FYI,india is a 63 year old baby..it’s not only my opinion…you have read a perverted version of history…let’s for argument’s sake agree that kashmir was a part of bharat varsh eons ago,does that give india a license to rule us for eternity??..whatever happened to free will…india is apparently a so-called democracy..it’s clear that we want freedom,ain’t it??…everything else becomes insignificant here..democracy is all about free will…you can force us to accept you people as our masters at gun-point…deep down inside you know we don’t and will never accept india as our country…
      (2)you sound like those corrupt western journalists who blame muslims for everything..taliban and all muslim terrorists were a CIA creation..it was CIA who funded and built fake seminaries in pakistan and afghanistan,recruited and brainwashed young,innocent muslims to bring about the downfall of USSR..after the war was over it left behind a large chunk of illiterate war veterans..it’s these veterans that the americans is fighting..they were mujahids when they were fighting for america and they are terrorists now…to tell you something..jihad means striving in the path of god…the idea of jihad has been perverted by some people with vested interests..yes there are some black sheep in pakistan and other muslim countries like you have abhinav bharat,modi,advani,rss,bajrang dal,vhp,shiv sena and others terrorist organisations,but that doesn’t make all muslims or hindus terrorists..western media has demonized muslims,they ignore the fact that they have killed millions of civilians in japan,vietnam,sudan,afghanistan,latin america,africa,south america et al for their so called war on terror…west needs a new enemy everytime to fool the international community and their people into believing that it’s a messiah and it’s fighting an evil force..if there is no enemy it creates one…first it was the ussr and communists,muslims were no where in the picture..you will hardly find terms like islamic terror and jihad in cold war literature..it’s only after they destroyed USSR and commuism,that they created a global islamophobia..they needed an enemy to fool the world and justify their covert neo-colonial invasions…west invades muslim and third world countries to loot their resources under the garb of the so called war on terror and when the retaliate they are called terrorists…why is hitler the ultimate evil??..why not roosevelt and churchill??…they killed millions in japan..why is osama a terrorist??..why not bush and his army who killed thousands in iraq and afghanistan??..why is a kashmiri freedom fighter a terrorist and not an indian army man who kills innocent civilians at will??..why ain’t an israeli who fires rockets at innocent palestinians and who has illegally occupied their land a terrorist??…why is this term used exclusively for muslims…why is SIMI a terrorist organistion,why not abhinav bharat and bajrang dal…didn’t two bajrang dal activists die while making bombs..didn’t hemant karkare unearth abhinav bharat’s nationwide terror conspiracy??..weren’t they involved in serial blasts in malegaon,ajmer,hyderabad??..why haven’t these organizations been banned…why ain’t they terrorists…why hasn’t your media used the word terrorist for them..why islamic terrorism??..why not hindu and saffron terrorism??…just because they are hindus,that’s the only reason..this is hypocrisy at it’s peak..and those muslim and christian presidents and prime ministers that you are people are puppets…it’s a cheap tactic to gain diplomatic edge and fool the international community into believing that india is a so called secular country…and one more point why do you think are all pakistanis terrorists…mind you i’m not concerned about pakistan..but just for your information..pakistan is a diverse country like india,,just because your media has demonized pakistan doesn’t mean all of them are terrorists…pakistani writers,scientists,doctors,intellectuals,sportpersons are at par with indian writers,social scientists,doctors..if india has arundhati roy,pakistan has tariq ali,if india kapil dev,pakistan has imran khan,if india has manmohan singh pakistan has shaukat aziz…i am neither pro-pakistan nor anti-india…make it clear to yourself…i know their are good pakistanis and good indians and bad pakistanis and bad indians…all i am concerned about is kashmir,i am neither an indian nor a pakistani,i am a kashmiri and we kashmiris are a different race..india and pakistan are two estranged brothers,they are culturally and linguistically similar…we kashmiris are different…being muslims doesn’t make us pakistanis…yes most of the kashmiris do have a soft corner for pakistan because of them being muslims,which is but natural,but most of us don’t want to be a part of pakistan…most of the kashmiris dream of an independent kashmir…let us breathe..why should we bear the brunt of bad blood between india and pakistan??…


    2. if pakistan is killing shias,ahmadis and other minorities,india is no saint..gujrat pogrom,sikh riots,massacre of christians in orissa were the brainchild of state machinery..modi engineered gujrat..my point is simple..i am neither anti-india,nor pro-pakistan,i don’t hate india or pakistan…i am a kashmiri,i am neither an indian nor a pakistani…i am a kashmiri who has been bearing the brunt of bad blood between two estranged brothers india and pakistan..i demand my rights..india and pakistan have occupied my land(kashmir) illegally ..i want freedom from both india and pakistan…i dream of an indepdent kashmir and a peaceful south asia,and for that india and pakistan has to grant us independence..after all kashmir is the root cause of the conflict between them..infact it’s the only cause of conflict..why should i allow india and pakistan to loot my resources..how long should i suffer because of india and pakistan??..


    3. correction:”and prime ministers that you are people are puppets”
      it’s:”and prime ministers that you are talking about are puppets”


  30. Please edit the comment above as follows:

    (1) Kashmir not being historically part of India

    One more point: Slurs like “snakechermers” or “paki” used by Westerners apply to all South Asians, not just to Indians. Calling Indians snakecharmers or poor does not make you a gora sahib. These names will apply to you even too even if you don’t belong to India.


  31. Ali : “we kashmiris will fight for our rights till the last drop of our blood,nothing can bog us down…”

    Thats what we want, Ali. Fight. Pick up a gun and fight like a man. Fight the Indian Army.Stop crying like a girl in an anonymous website forum.


    1. i already said:i condemn violence..i am against militancy..fighting doesn’t necessarily mean picking up a gun…militants have taken a back seat now..it’s the common man at the helm of the affairs..of all my posts and of all that i have written you found this one liner to counter-argue..this clearly proves that you argue for the sake of argument and to satisfy your twisted sense of ego…you don’t have a iota of idea about the things..don’t be a keyboard warrior like your compatriots…come to kashmir if you want to know the reality…blabbering here is easy..


  32. “Did you know that Junagarh (with a Hindu majority population) was annexed and a plebiscite held within months of independence, while Kashmiir was cheated by the Indian state and denied the promise?”

    Pondpaka, you write true to the metier of your “honorific” as known in bengali :)..Obviously your reading on the Kashmir issue doesnt go beyond (certain types of) press reports…From VP Menon to MJ Akbar to Ram Guha to Stanley Wolpert – accounts are many to get your basics right…Very briefly, the plan was to first stop the “war”, get all Pakistani troops out of Kashmir (including Gilgit and Baltistan – which the Pakis conveniently set aside now), maintain a skeletan INDIAN force for security and THEN conduct a plebiscite – with only two options: accession to India or Even the first criterion (cessation of hostilities) was not met – Pakistan never stopped fishing in the troubled waters of the Dal Lake..A bit of reading would do wonders to your invectives, you know…

    Ali, if you were interested in data you wouldnt base your assertions only on invectives or rhetoric..The “power” (soft and hard) of India is visible in pretty much every corner of the world – some of which as Raman mentioned…Whether you are part of politics, business, academics, the sciences or the arts – the big story globally is that of India (and China)…To deny that is to delude yourself….

    As I said before, if you want a plebiscite for independence of J&K, there isnt anything “moral” in denying Ladakhi buddhists, Kargili shias and Jammu hindus the same privilege..Many decades back, another person (in many ways a great man) insisted on “independence”, even at the cost of a “moth-eaten” (his words) country…The whole world has seen the resultant “creation” of that effort – an international migraine that has a single export, one that reaches every nook and corner of the world – terror….


    1. ok so it’s facts vs facts..
      glitzy malls,swanky hotels,30 odd billionaires,and foreign cheerleaders don’t make you rich…let’s do a reality check about shining india…india may be the 4th largest economy in the world,or the largest sometime in future…but,GDP is not a measure of economic prosperity..it’s PPP..and india ranks in mid-120’s when it comes to GDP/capita i.e purchasing power parity..
      here we go:Official Name: Republic of India
      Location: South Asia
      Population: 1.15 billion

      People Below Poverty Line:Seventy-seven percent of Indians – about 836 million people(as of 2007) – live on less than half a dollar a day in one of the world’s hottest economies, a government report said…full report:http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-28923020070810
      that $2 here ain’t equal to 80 INR…India’s GDP at market exchange rate is $922.9 billion. Its GDP at Power Purchasing parity is $4,294 billion. The ratio of difference is 4.65 i.e 4,294/922.9. Let’s say the official exchange rate for dollar is Rs.45. Then on purchasing power basis 1 dollar is equivalent to 9.61 Indian rupees(i.e Official exchange rate of $/ratio of difference = 45/4.65). Therefore,20 indian rupees calculates to a little over $2 on PPP basis…

      Number of people in India living on less than 50 pence per day: about 300 million[BBC News Night, Oct 2006]

      20 crore indians sleep with empty stomach everyday because they do not have anything to eat.To eradicate hunger, India is in the 94th position, and is backward than the neighboring countries such as China and Pakistan..

      Number of people living in slums: 150 million [BBC 15 sep 2004]

      People in Mumbai living in shanty towns, open spaces, or on pavements: 50% of Mumbai’s population [BBC, Nov 2005]

      World’s largest slum: located in Mumbai; Dharavi, 432 acres

      Deaths Due to Poverty: 20,000 per day, 270 million since 1990 (highest in the world)

      In India out of 100 new born infants, 67 of them die within a year, 93 of them die within 5 years..

      One, out of five children dying world wide, within five years of age is from your country. According to UNICEF report, ten lakh children die every year. In your country 5 lakhs of infants die within 28 days, 60% of women deliver at homes; 78 thousand of women die during pregnancy and delivery…

      India is in top position in the case of child labour..
      Forced Child Labor: 50 million (highest in the world)..
      12.6 million Children’s childhood is being destroyed, who are working in various sectors. Poverty is seed bed for child labour. Among them children of rural areas are working as agricultural labour and bonded labour. In urban areas 58% of children are working in hazardous industries. In the education field, among the 100 children admitted in 1st class, only 53% of them reach till 10th class, and 38% reach till degree level. Only 7% of the students are studying higher education (IIM, IIT, MBA).

      Number of People Without Access to Toilets: 650 million (highest in the world)

      Child Malnutrition Rate: 46% (highest in the world)

      Number of Prostitutes: 10 million (highest in the world)

      Reported Rapes per Day: 48 approx.

      Percentage of Rapes Reported: 1.42%..

      and it wasn’t jinnah who was responsible for partition…please do your homework before blaming him for the mess..


  33. As a Kashmiri Hindu whose family fled Sopore in 1989, I too have a story filled with terror and anguish. I have vivid memories of how people we knew for centuries treated us when instigated by vested interests.

    The only arguement in Kashmir favouring separation from India is that Muslims form a majority in the valley. How can this ever be a valid arguement in a secular India? This will definitely make Hindus fear growth of Muslims in other parts of India.

    Article 370 has a big role to play in this alienation. If all Indians were allowed to buy land and invest freely, Kashmir would have been much more prosperous. Politicians have used us all- Hindus and Muslims for their own political gain.


    1. as is said in the very beginning,pandits fell into the trap of jagmohan…as soon as they fled kashmir,they realized in jammu itself that they were betrayed by jagmohan and the GOI.. so they fled to delhi and other parts of india,and are living their peacefully and those of them who are in jammu are bearing the brunt of their mistake(they feel cheated,they know GOI and jagmohan betrayed them)…they can’t divulge the truth because they will loose a lot…FYI,200-250 pandits were killed…and there are still many pandits living peacefully in kashmir….one pandit guy is working as a manager in my cousin’s firm..why didn’t he fall in the trap of jagmohan..mass exodus was jagmohan’s braichild to colour kashmiri freedom struggle as communal…Go through jagmohan’s ,”Frozen Memories Of Kashmir”..

      confessions of a secular pandit:an excerpt from manohar nath tickoo’s interview:”I left with my family on Friday, 31st May 1990 with the first light in the dawn and reached Jammu same day in the early afternoon. I still remember that fateful day when I was forced by none other than my own wife and daughters to leave. All my Muslim neighbours came to my home biding my family a fond farewell with tearful eyes. Me and my neighbours never wanted my family to leave Kashmir but there was definitely a massive psychological fear created by unknown agencies against the Kashmiri Pandits which forced us to leave. Although the fact remains that not a single Muslim forced us to leave”…scroll down to read the full interview…


    2. @aseema:kashmir muslims are different from indian muslims…likewise kashmiri hindus are different from indian hindus..india and pakistan are lingusitically and culturally similar,but kashmiris are different.. please scroll down to read pandit manohar nath tikko’s interview,it will make things clear..let me post it here too for your convenience:-an excerpt from prof manohar tikoo’s interview will make things clear:”Kashmir has never been part of India and has no cultural, traditional, ethical and religious semblance with India . Even we Kashmiri Pundits have totally different religious ceremonial and ritual days than of the Indian Hindus and we practice a different mythology. We have no religious attachment with river Ganga ; we used to put the ashes of the dead into the “Naraan Nag Gangbal” near Sonamarg. We never celebrate Diwali but “Hearath”. We celebrate a religious day which is called “Sheshar Shenkraat” which is celebrated in the winters in order to avoid demonic influence in winters and there is no example of celebrating such a day in the Indian Hindu mythology. Moreover, Kashmiri Pundits celebrate “Shiv Raatri” differently than Indian Hindus; we prepare a lot of non vegetarian food to break the fast, contrary to Hindus who abstain from meat on the day.
      Similarly Kashmiri Muslims have a different culture with no relevance with that of Indian culture. Politically, the UN resolutions stand witness to the Kashmir dispute and promises the right to self determination. Had Kashmir not been a disputed state then why Kashmir has its own constitution and flag. And why Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations. It was only because of Indian political prejudice and insincerity that autonomy of Kashmir was eroded”..


  34. @ Ali, Kashmir is historically a part of India. The temples are much older than any of the mosques. Islam came as a religion of invaders.


    1. @aseema:firstly,india is a 63 year old baby…secondly,you have read a perverted version of history..let’s delve deeper into history:the first human being was a muslim…islam has been there since time immemorial..the process of conversions and reversions has been going on since god knows when..thirdly,even if kashmir was a part of bharat varsh eons ago,that doesn’t mean bharat has a license to rule kashmir for eternity..india is apparently a so-called democracy and democracy is all about free will..why does india deny us the right to decide our fate??..this is 21st century..whatever happened in past is history…fifthly,kashmiris are different from indians..when i say kashmiris i mean kashmiris muslims and kashmiri hindus and indian muslims and indian hindus..
      an excerpt from prof manohar tikoo’s interview will make things clear:”Kashmir has never been part of India and has no cultural, traditional, ethical and religious semblance with India . Even we Kashmiri Pundits have totally different religious ceremonial and ritual days than of the Indian Hindus and we practice a different mythology. We have no religious attachment with river Ganga ; we used to put the ashes of the dead into the “Naraan Nag Gangbal” near Sonamarg. We never celebrate Diwali but “Hearath”. We celebrate a religious day which is called “Sheshar Shenkraat” which is celebrated in the winters in order to avoid demonic influence in winters and there is no example of celebrating such a day in the Indian Hindu mythology. Moreover, Kashmiri Pundits celebrate “Shiv Raatri” differently than Indian Hindus; we prepare a lot of non vegetarian food to break the fast, contrary to Hindus who abstain from meat on the day.
      Similarly Kashmiri Muslims have a different culture with no relevance with that of Indian culture. Politically, the UN resolutions stand witness to the Kashmir dispute and promises the right to self determination. Had Kashmir not been a disputed state then why Kashmir has its own constitution and flag. And why Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations. It was only because of Indian political prejudice and insincerity that autonomy of Kashmir was eroded”..


  35. @raman kaul and all indians please go through this post thoroughly:
    Two decades of Exile –

    Interview with Prof Manohar Nath Tikko

    This is an important piece of work. And much enough to enlighten and inform the community that has been holding Kashmiris responsible for their exodus and killings (209 Kashmiri Pandits killed since 1989, say JK cops in first . Though everyone …has condemned… the killings of the minority people, they are yet to condemn the killings faced by the popular majority. But this one is exception. Read on Professor Manohar Nath Tikko, 74, was a college teacher and head of the department of Education at the Governmnt College Islamabad. He lived in Haire Mohalla, Janglat Mandi in Islamabad before he left Kashmir at the peak of insurgency in 1990. For the last two decades, he is living at the scorching locale of Bohdi in Jammu.

    Q1) What prompted your migration?

    A:-I left with my family on Friday, 31st May 1990 with the first light in the dawn and reached Jammu same day in the early afternoon. I still remember that fateful day when I was forced by none other than my own wife and daughters to leave. All my Muslim neighbours came to my home biding my family a fond farewell with tearful eyes. Me and my neighbours never wanted my family to leave Kashmir but there was definitely a massive psychological fear created by unknown agencies against the Kashmiri Pandits which forced us to leave. Although the fact remains that not a single Muslim forced us to leave.

    Q2) Do you nurture any dreams of coming back?
    A:- Well, I do believe that Pundits will get back to their home land but I can’t predict a time for it. However, I don’t not believe the Central [Indian] or [local] State government claims that the Pandits will be rehabilitated in their original homes. This is a blatant lie, as there hasn’t been any strategy for our rehabilitation since we have left the Valley. The past governments did built some residential houses at places like Tulmul, Budgam and Mattan, but I believe this was for electoral politics.

    Q3) There are many examples of Pandits returning back. Could you perhaps follow the suit?
    A:- No I am sorry. I don’t hesitate to tell u a stark fact that I would feel emotionally insulted if I return back to my home this time because we left our mother land without any force from our fellow people. I believe that Kashmiri Pundits should have remained in the Valley and they must have fought the freedom struggle with their fellow Muslim citizens. Even we should have sacrificed in the similar fashion our Muslim brothers did for the Kashmir cause, but unfortunately we did not do that. Even I wouldn’t mind if hundred thousand Kashmir Pundits would have been martyred for freedom struggle because Kashmir cause has no less a meaning for Kashmiri Pundits. It is bizarre when we “Kashmir Pundits” vociferously beat the drums, searching for “Panun Kashmir”, ironically outside the Kashmir , therefore it has literally lost its spirit and meaning..

    Q4) How do you view the Kashmir problem?
    A:- Kashmir is a very old issue which has mutated into a monster now. But it can be solved by sincere and honest leadership in India , Pakistan and Kashmir . Gimmicks like holding elections cannot be used to fade the reality of Kashmir being an unresolved issue. Holding election in the presence of half a million troops shows the level of legitimacy and the feigned democratic nature in Kashmir .
    My personal opinion is that Kashmir issue is the issue of those who speak Kashmiri language. It should not be hyphenated or related to the other parts like Jammu and Ladakh; they have never been a relative part of Kashmir and had never any cultural, ethnic or communication links with Kashmir . Kashmir has its own history and it should be recognized as an independent state. It had never been a part of India or British India.

    Q5) Would the Kashmiri Pandits accept independent Kashmir?
    A:- Well, not necessarily. I am expressing my opinion without any bias and duality. The opinions are never same even on a common issue. Let me tell you that majority of Pandits did not support Sheikh Abdullah but the Ahrar Party of Moulvi Yousuf Shah. Well know Pandit activists Prem Nath Bazaz and Prem Nath Yash were in favour of Kashmir’s accession with Pakistan . I still remember that time when people were asked to opt between India and Pakistan . My late father Sarvanand Tikko who was the Post Master at Anantnag at that time and we used to live inside the Post Office, signed on the document favouring accession with Pakistan and his four collogues including Ghulam Muhammad Shah of Bijbehra and Jagan Nath Rayess. My late father unfurled the Pakistani flag on the top of the Post Office but the goons of National Conference which include Abdul Ahad Tak of Anantnag town made an assault on my father and his colleagues, beat them to pulp and put down the Pakistani flag. They also tried to set the Post Office on fire.

    Q6) Many Kashmiris often refer to Sheikh Abdullah as ‘Gaddar’ or traitor. How do you view him?
    A:- Well, It is easy to be wise after the event. Sheikh Abdullah should have not done the “Ilhaq” or accession with India . He did a very serious blunder for the reason that kashmiri people are suffering a lot. Sadly Sheikh Abdullah had no political vision. Prem Nath Bazaz observed that Sheikh Abdullah had no sense of history and he had never read any history on Kashmir . So one can understand the level of political maturity and sincerity of Sheikh Abdullah.

    Q7) The Pandit argument is that Kashmir has always been part of India ?
    A:- Kashmir has never been part of India and has no cultural, traditional, ethical and religious semblance with India . Even we Kashmiri Pundits have totally different religious ceremonial and ritual days than of the Indian Hindus and we practice a different mythology. We have no religious attachment with river Ganga ; we used to put the ashes of the dead into the “Naraan Nag Gangbal” near Sonamarg. We never celebrate Diwali but “Hearath”. We celebrate a religious day which is called “Sheshar Shenkraat” which is celebrated in the winters in order to avoid demonic influence in winters and there is no example of celebrating such a day in the Indian Hindu mythology. Moreover, Kashmiri Pundits celebrate “Shiv Raatri” differently than Indian Hindus; we prepare a lot of non vegetarian food to break the fast, contrary to Hindus who abstain from meat on the day.
    Similarly Kashmiri Muslims have a different culture with no relevance with that of Indian culture. Politically, the UN resolutions stand witness to the Kashmir dispute and promises the right to self determination. Had Kashmir not been a disputed state then why Kashmir has its own constitution and flag. And why Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru took the Kashmir issue to the United Nations. It was only because of Indian political prejudice and insincerity that autonomy of Kashmir was eroded.

    Q 8) How would you see the contours of its resolution?
    A:- Well, Kashmir is a much political issue than a religious one. Kashmir has suffered because of a historical political mistake so the key to its resolution is strong political struggle which is possible only when we have strong political institutions with sincere leaders having unanimity on the common Kashmir cause.
    So far we have failed on diplomatic and international level only because of the poor and corrupt leadership. It is imperative to coordinate the political groups and bring them under one banner and one single leader. I would suggest Sayed Ali Shah Geelani who has shown strength and resilience while others change their cloaks often. But there has to be inclusion of Pandits in the political leadership.

    Q10) How would you place Article 370 in this jigsaw puzzle?
    A:- The Article 370 has no future unless it does not get a permanent place in the Indian Constitution. Since the Article 370 is a temporary Article, it can be abrogated any time by the parliament of India and BJP has included the abrogation of Article 370 in its election manifesto. I think we Kashmiris should have fought vigorously for the permanence of the Article 370. Since the Article 370 is followed with the word “Temporary” has no meaning unless it does not get divorce from it. Moreover, the Indian leadership has always failed to give the due share to the Kashmiris in their democratic doctrines as established in 1950.

    Q12) How do you see the future of Kashmir?
    A: – We must pin hope against hope on the fourth generation after 1947 who can give respite to Kashmiris if they succeed to apply their brains properly.


  36. Dear all,
    I think there are some some liberties being taken with history and conceptual categories in this debate. I wish the responses, if any, to the propositions I am about to put forward would come after some clear thinking and without the knee-jerk tendencies of labeling and casting aspersions along lines of loyalty/disloyalty, knowledge/ignorance, capacity for tolerance, religious or national inclinations, or indeed proximity or distance from the Arya ideal of civilization (please remember that mleccha first functioned as a marker of civilizational difference based on linguistic distinction, much as yavana did, before it was equated by Brahmanic constituencies with norms of cultural hierarchies) etc.

    (1) No, I do not believe that the demands of Kashmiris in the valley are communal. The demand in Kashmir is for long-denied rights. Not every reference to religion is communal — if it were so, then every believing/practising Indian and Pakistani is communal. The concept of “secular” against which “communal” is being defined seems poorly understood by those who are ascribing either label. In any case, what are the examples of secularism on which this poorly conceptualized notion is being valorized, other than some vague sense that it is everything that is NOT Pakistani or Kashmiri Muslim? I certainly hope the usual exemplars of Nehru and the Congress will not be trotted out. Although I am not a huge fan of his, perhaps a quick read of Ashish Nandy’s “Secularism and the Tolerance of Religion” will at least show how the question is a little more complicated than certain people here seem/want to realize. I suggest also a reading of Gyanendra Pandey’s book, the Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India, for a historical survey of how precisely the term “communal” gained ground as a pejorative. For those assuming, it was always self-evidently so, you might be surprised. Finally, I would recommend Ayesha Jalal’s article “Exploding Communalism” for a persuasive argument, that it was the Indian National Congress who hammered the nail in the coffin for the term “communal” when it used it prolifically as a pejorative. She also points out, importantly, that it was used selectively to tar those who refused to speak from its pulpit, not on the basis of whether politicians referred to religion or not. Thus Maulana Azad was secular and nationalist when he allied himself firmly with the Congress (now his earlier calls in Al-Hilal for a state within India where the sharia would run its writ as the only way in which Muslims could be accommodated, were conveniently forgotten). And Mohammed Ali, always a self-avowed “communal patriot”, was celebrated when the Congress and pro-Khilafat movement made common cause in the first half of the 1920s –indeed he was deemed so nationalist and secular that he was even made Congress president–but was reviled when he broke with the Congress party. He broke not, mind you, with India or Indian nationalism, but with the Congress party and his stance on his dual religious and patriotic affiliations had changed not an iota either when he was acceptable to the Congress or later when he ceased to be so. I’m sure i don’t need to quote his assertion of belonging to two non-concentric circles both of which had equal claims on him. What had changed dramatically was the definition of secular nationalism and the fact that the Indian National Congress arbitrarily arrogated to itself the right to do so (while continuing to contain within its ranks many Hindu provincial leaders who continued to be members also of the Hindu Mahasabha). So, let’s talk about “secular” and “communal” if you will but then let’s do so after getting our understandings of those concepts and their histories straight.

    As for assuming that the goal of Kashmiri Muslims in 1989/90 was to establish a nizam-e-mustafa, if it was indeed such a burning desire, isn’t it relevant that 20-odd years later it still does not exist as a political dispensation in the valley even though it is, sadly, depopulated of much of any Hindu minority that would presumably oppose it?

    For these and many other reasons, no, I don’t buy the label “communal” when describing universally the movement in Kashmir.

    (2) As for the reiteration that Kashmir was always a part of India, I think Shivam made an important point when he pointed out that the entity to which reference is being made today — the nation-state of India born in 1947– is a very different one from the India many seem to be referring to — for want of another short-hand, I’ll call it the ancient concept of jambudvipa. There seemed to be no response to that contention by Shivam and so I’d like to revive it again — perhaps people just missed it the first time around. So if we agree that the India that is being contested today in the valley of Kashmir and other parts of the country is the post-1947 republic, does that change the picture for those who have assumed such eternal belonging as the basis of claims to “keeping” it?

    For the person who made reference to Muslim conquests in order to allude to some pre-Islamic authentic historical reality for Kashmir, I disagree on two points, at least. First, you seem to suggest, if I have understood you correctly, that there was some deluge of invaders that wiped out an original Kashmir or some truly native inhabitants of Kashmir in one fell swoop and replaced it/them with some version of an illegitimate Islamized tyranny/tyrants. If so, what invasion are you talking? As for this myth of a sudden Islamization, well you should know better. Conversions to Islam were in the order of a gradual process evolving over centuries (many Kashmiri Muslims, proudly dating their families’ conversion to as late as the nineteenth century) and not one that was accomplished under the stereotypical threat of the sword. I hope no one is going to trot out Sikandar but-shikan because then others will trot out the attacks on Buddhist viharas by a number of Hindu rulers of Kashmir, before trotting out Zain-ul-Abidin. Of course, there are exceptions to be found in any long process but the exceptions should not become the basis of generalizations. More importantly, converting to Islam does not make those who did so any less Kashmiri — “Muslim” is not the antonym of the word “Kashmiri”. Second, on the question of Muslim invaders alien to some authentic Kashmir, the use of the language of rights to claim territory on the basis of being “first peoples” is so obviously counter-productive I wonder if it really needs spelling out. Nevertheless, I will make just one point briefly: If the Rajatarangini and other “ancient scriptures” are going to be made somehow privileged sources of historical evidence, then let’s remember that it, and the Nilamata Purana, also talk about a valley originally populated by nagas and other non-“Aryan” beings.

    In any case, such “first peoples'” claims to territory smack of the language of modern-day zionism and really date to the disastrous equation made during the deliberations at Versailles in 1919 between territory and some homogeneous peoples inhabiting it as the basis on which to draw national frontiers. Why should we cherish such historical upstarts as founding principles?

    (3) There is an implicit suggestion in several of the comments above that Hindus in Kashmir have always welcomed/recognized their ancient links with India and Indians and on that basis some nebulous suggestions that they are nationalists (and yes, being an Indian nationalist is assumed to be an honourable credential in these statements) and Kashmiri Muslims “traitors” (to what cause, I am not clear). If there is going to be reference to history then let’s refer to history, not some emotionally slanted version of it. Let me place before you some instances of one facet of mobilization by some Kashmiri Pandits in the early twentieth century. And please believe that I know that not ALL Kashmiri Pandits spoke/speak with one voice. I am not referring anywhere to some homogeneous category of Kashmiri Pandits but to specific statements by specific groups/individuals in specific contexts.

    With that caveat, (a) I would like to point out that it was Kashmiri Pandits of the Sanatan Dharma Sabha who first raised the slogan “Kashmir for Kashmiris” in the second decade of the twentieth century and guess who this was raised against? Against Punjabi Hindus and other Pandits resident outside the valley (but in India) who they felt were encroaching upon their primary right to employment in the Dogra-ruled state. (If you’d like a footnote: Letter from J. Manners dated 1 September 1917, Home Department (Political), Proceedings Sept 1917, no. 6, National Archives of India, New Delhi. For other footnotes on the Kashmiri Pandit-Punjabi Hindu “bickering” as one source described it, see, among many, Crown Representative’s Records, Political Department, R/1/1/1411 — although the original of these records are at the British library in London, I believe the National Archives in Delhi has them on microfilm).

    (b) In 1921, Shankar Lal Kaul writing under the pseudonym of Kashmiricus in the newspaper United India and Indian States had the following to say:
    “Kashmiris are treated as strangers in their own house. In their own country their status is nil. A post of rupees 40 falls vacant in some office…ninety to one an outsider is brought to fill it up … a good-for-nothing outsider almost illiterate–but whose qualification is a communal or geographical alliance with some powerful official in the state…” (Old English Records, Political Department, 1921, File no. 73/97-C, Jammu and Kashmir State Archives, Jammu repository). The Punjabi Hindu employed increasingly in the state’s administration is not only clearly identified as an outsider but also a “good-for-nothing…almost illiterate one”. Wishful thinking because many of those being railed against were not only as educated as Shankar Lal Kaul, but they had the only education that the British colonial state insisted increasingly was appropriate for state/bureaucratic employment: a westernized “modern” education to which Kashmiri Pandits had not yet gained access. And one would be hard put to explain how the highly educated Suraj Koul, who became member of the J&K state council that was formed in 1899, could be deemed unqualified except that he was a Kashmiri Pandit who, along with his ancestors, had made a life in Lahore.

    (c) The Yuvak Sabha (or the Sanatan Dharma Youngmen’s Association), the most active of organizations representing Kashmiri Pandit interests particularly from the 1930s on, while growing out of the Fraternity Society that Prem Nath Bazaz had first founded in 1930, very quickly became aligned with more conservative segments of the Sanatan Dharma Sabha. Its first organizational emergence related to getting some Kashmiri Pandits together to wage a court battle against Punjabi Hindus who they accused of illegally occupying land belonging to the Shival temple in Srinagar (G.H, Khan, Freedom Movement in Kashmir, pp. 57-8).

    Where, in the above three instances, was that recognition that Kashmir was always an integral part of India? Furthermore, one could, if one wishes, echo the question insistently raised here by one of the commentators: what was so special about Kashmiri Pandits that they could not accept what was common practice in other parts of India, viz the employment of educated Bengalis, Punjabis and non-valley Kashmiri Pandits in administration outside the territories to which they belonged? Or, more ludicrously still, the question of what makes Kashmiri Pandits’ Hinduism so special that Punjabi Hindus could not be considered co-sharers of land endowed to the Shival temple, a Hindu shrine? Frankly, these questions sound not only absurd to me even as I write them but are also futile because they do not really have answers. The claim of one people to specific rights cannot be invalidated rationally by reference to another people (Muslims of Kerala, I think it was) not making a similar claim.

    For those who are familiar with the history of Kashmir, let’s talk a little about why and when those very Kashmiri Pandits (of the Sanatan Dharma Sabha and their associational allies) who had believed so fervently in a “Kashmir for Kashmiris” either grew silent on their own rallying call or sought to modify it beyond recognition. It is no coincidence that that the heyday of such clamours was between 1912 and 1927, both dates relating to two different definitions of “state subjects” of Kashmir and who, on the basis of that definition, would have access to the state’s resources, especially rights to employment and to purchase land. The definition in 1912 rested broadly on proof of ownership of land in the state, which would include just about everyone who could produce a rayatnama to that effect whether of ancient standing or very recently acquired. This was adjudged so broad a definition by Kashmiri Pandits that it made nonsense of what it meant to be a “mulki” (as far as categories go, I would agree with the Pandits’ stance). At least one Kashmiri Pandit writing under the pen-name Satis Superque in the same newspaper mentioned above (UIandIS) called for the criterion of hereditary residence over at least five generations. After much agitation primarily by Kashmiri Pandit organizations and for part of the time by the Dogra Sabha, the maharaja Hari Singh proclaimed a new definition of who was a state subject in 1927. This time it included all those residing in the state since 1846, since the state itself was formed, and only those newcomers who had resided there permanently since 1885. Although not entirely satisfactory, this definition kept at bay large numbers of Punjabis who, since the late nineteenth and especially in the early twentieth century, had begun to settle in the valley either as traders or, more contentiously, came to be employed in the highest echelons of the state administration.

    But the “problem” with this latest definition for organizations like the Sanatan Dharm Sabha or the Yuvak Sabha was that while it warded one threat (the Punjabi and other “outsiders”) this definition included another constituency — more numerous and equally Kashmiri — viz, the Muslims of the valley, some of whom had begun to acquire the “modern” Western education deemed a qualification for participation in the state’s administration. And some of these Kashmiri Muslims, largely silent until then, were demanding their rightful access to that state. In 1927, after the redefinition of the term “Hereditary State Subject”, the maharaja Hari Singh had also announced the grant of 12 new scholarships to eleven Hindu and one Muslim state subject. This discrepancy in numbers, drew protests from certain newly vocal Kashmiri Muslims with the result that the maharaja increased the number of scholarships to make the distribution between Hindus and Muslims even — please note, even, not more, not less. ( HH’s government, J&K, Evidence Recorded in Public by the Srinagar Riots Enquiry Committee, 1931.) From this point on, the evidence mounts that Muslim demands even for a parity of rights in the Dogra-state were met repeatedly with accusations by the same groups of Pandits mentioned earlier of “communalism”. Please note that these were not majoritarian claims on the basis of the sheer superiority of numbers that Kashmiri Muslim groups such as those associated with the Reading Room party were making at the time (as arguably they could have made convincingly).

    Interestingly, it is in the context of increasing Kashimiri Muslim assertiveness that Kashmiri Pandit organizations began to arrogate to themselves the badge of honour of being “nationalist”, and therefore uniquely qualified for state employment. And, as proof of their nationalist credentials they reminded the Maharaja’s government, which now seemed to them too indulgent of Kashmiri Muslim demands, that it was they who first raised “the cry of Kashmir for Kashmiris” (footnote: Memorial Presented by the Sanatan Dharm Youngmen’s Association on Behalf of Kashmiri Pandits to His Highness the Maharaja Bahadur of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, 24 October 1931, p. 3).

    How does that sentiment of “Kashmir for Kashmiris” flow seamlessly into the language of Kashmir as an eternally integral part of India while Kashmiri Muslims making the same call today as Kashmiri Pandits did in the early 20th century are invited “to go westward”? Please note that Kashmiri Pandits of the Sanatan Dharm Sabha had used the rallying call “Kashmir for Kashmiris” to prove their nationalism to a Dogra-Hindu ruler.

    The baton passed from the 1930s onwards into the hands of groups of Kashmiri Muslims, who took over the call. By the 1940s, Kashmiri Pandit references to that slogan seem to vanish — not useful enough as a basis on which to claim special access to the state? From the 1940s, the Yuvak Sabha celebrated its nationalism in a wider arena — a Hindu-majority India. Motilal Nehru was now celebrated as a son of Kashmir by even those groups of pandits who had not so long ago described Pandit emigres to the plains of India as deserters and “dead to them”.

    Claims/labels and the content given them are not eternally fixed but as contextually varying as the people making them.

    So if we’re all going to be historians–and why not?–then let’s also please remember that an important part of historical explanation is to understand/acknowledge CONTEXT and CONTINGENCY.


  37. I thank Mridu Rai – for those who don’t know, author of Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects – for her elaborate, illuminating comment.

    I’m waiting to read responses from Prashant, Ashutosh, Sam and Aseema.

    I know this thread is becoming long and endless, and many positions and arguments have been repeated many times, but I want to say a few more things on the issue of Kashmiri Pandits.

    First I want to list some points made about Pandits

    1) Smallblue in a comment had pointed out that Prashant’s idea that Kashmiri Muslims who don’t consider themselves Indian should leave ‘Indian’ Kashmiri territory and march westwards was an expression of desire for ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Muslims. Prashant’s response was telling: he suggests that since the Muslims were responsible for the ethnic cleansing of pandits, what is so wrong about the ethnic cleansing of Muslims!

    2) Ali responds to Prashant saying there was no ethnic cleansing of Pandits, that 250 Pandits were killed ‘as compared to’ 90,000 Kashmiri Muslims and counting, and that the exodus is to be blamed on the then Indian Governor, Jagmohan rather than Kashmiri militants or Kashmiri Muslims. Ali goes to the extent of saying KPs are ‘traitors’ who play the victim card for sympathy and economic benefits.

    3) Ashutosh points out the Pandit issue to argue against plebiscite (to which I responded, there’s no reason why exiled Pandits cannot vote from wherever they are). He did not respond to my point.

    4) Sam reiterates the point that what happened with the Pandits is evidence of the communal nature of the Kashmiri Muslim struggle.

    5) Faysal points out the Pandits are different from Indian Hindus, and makes other such historical points about Pandits, and blames India for their exodus from Kashmir. Ashutosh responds by calling him ‘mlechcha’, a very casteist term that is used in a way as if to come up with an equivalent of the Muslim term ‘kafir’. Ashutosh reveals who’s really being ‘communal’ here! To those who say Kashmiri Pandit women had been raped, Faysal asks for evidence. Faysal also names Prem Nath Bazaz and says there were Pandits, too, who

    6) Ali asks, “had india been a muslim majority would pandits still want to be with india?”

    7) To Shahid’s point that the fight in Kashmir is between the zalim and the mazloom, Prashant asks, were the Pandits zalim too?

    8) Safiya mentions AFSPA to show that the Kashmiri struggle is not about religion, to which Sam again says, the Pandit issue shows how ‘secular’ the struggle is.

    9) Raman Kaul offered what seems to be a very sensible comment to me: “Pandits were neither removed by Jagmohan nor were they traitors. They left because terrorist outfits posted notices in newspapers asking them to leave. They wanted no part of your nizam-e-mustafa. They did not want to live in a Talibanized atmosphere which was being created there in 1989-90. They were being denied opportunities even when things were peaceful. If living in Kashmir meant saying Pakistan zindabad, we were better off without Kashmir. We were not traitors to our nation. Only your definition of nation was different from ours. If the number of Hindus killed was less it was because their number was less in the first place, and also because they did not take to the streets fighting their own country. To your accusation of calling us complainers, I’d say that you guys are bigger cry-babies getting all economic advantages from India and then abusing India.”

    10) Ali’s response to that: “did kashmiri muslims run away to iran or arab when maharaja hari singh and pandits ruled the roost in early 20th century…when kashmiris were ill treated,killed,harassed,humiliated,massacred..they stayed back and fought for their rights…why did pandits support india??..of course because of their religious allegiance..why didn’t they support their countrymen…ain’t pandits communal..if kashmiri muslims want an independent kashmir on religious grounds they are communal,but pandits are not??…they betrayed their nation..they are runaway opportunists..they were promised of lucrative future..now that they are well settled in indian cities..they play this victim card every now and then just for economic benefits and sympathy…”

    11) Aseema Kaul mentions her family had to flee Sopore in 1989, says she too can narrate stories of persecution. She argues against Muslim majoritarianism as a basis for Kashmiri independence, says it will adversely affect Indian secularism, and proposes scrapping ARticle 370 as a solution.

    12) Ali mentions Jagmohan’s book and an interview by a Pandit, and makes other statements, all which according to him prove that Pandits ‘fell into Jagmohans trap’ and now regret it. To that, Aseema Kaul who was in her last comment worrying about Indian secularism, responds pithily: “Ali, Kashmir is historically a part of India. The temples are much older than any of the mosques. Islam came as a religion of invaders.” Ali copies the interview of a ‘secular’ Pandit to show that the Raman Kaul-Aseema Kaul version is false.

    13) Mridu Rai responds to the charge of the Kashmiri struggle being “communal”, and the Pandit exodus being evidence of that, by going into history and showing us it was Kashmiri Pandits who first raised the slogan of “Kashmir for Kashmiris”. (Aseema Kaul will have to rethink her position on Article 370.)


    The reason why I’ve paraphrased this painstakingly is to, firstly, point out that my post above had nothing to do with Kashmiri Pandits. It was about the killing of innocent protestors who were at best throwing stones, and how the Indian media was not letting the truth be known.

    I was asking why we should be so unsympathetic of the Kashmiri freedom struggle considering our own experience of freedom. My post was about what’s happening in Kashmir right now, summer of 2010.

    And yet, it is typical that all conversation about Kashmiri azadi struggle will get stuck, like a clock whose battery has run out, in 1989 and the Pandit exodus/ethnic cleansing. All discussion on the present situation is deliberately hijacked by the rhetorical question, ‘But what about Pandits?’ As if to say some of these people would have supported azadi had the Pandit exodus/ethnic cleansing not taken place. Or that had the Pandits still been in the Valley, a plebiscite would have been possible, and favourable to India.

    I think that the varying versions of what really happened with the Pandit exodus/cleansing needs the sort of clarity that an honest, objective historian’s eye for detail can bring about. My suspicion is that such a work will be as uncomfortable for Aseema and Raman as it will be for Faysal and Ali. There is no doubt that in 1989 Kashmir Muslims waged guerilla warfare to liberate Kashmir, and that the Indian state responded (as any state would have) by militarising to hold on to every inch of territory. Perhaps Mridu Rai should take the hint!

    I think Ali should think about his statement that only 250 Pandits were killed – is that not enough to scare an entire population into believing they must leave? Can it be denied that there were no posters and notices asking them to leave? At the same time, why has the Indian state, with its might behind Pandits and no regard for a Kashmiri Muslim life, not been able to punish those guilty of taking those Pandit lives? It is also very possible that the state facilitated the Pandit exodus so that it could go about militarising Kashmir and killing wantonly with the protection shield of AFSPA without fearing backlash on Pandits. Yet, it made most sense for militants to have Pandits out because Pandits naturally didn’t support azadi and would have been informers about militants in their neighbourhood.

    Either way, how does the Pandit issue mean that Kashmiri Muslims should not have freedom? The core issue even within the Pandit here is azadi, and the only Indian nationalist above who appreciates this is Rama Kaul. Pandits spread all over the world do whatever they can to defame the Kashmiri struggle because they are politically opposed to azadi even though they know they are themselves not going to return to live in the Valley.

    2010 is not 1989. Pandits are moving on – see this article by me: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/nation/exile-extended

    Kashmiri Pandits deserve justice, compensation, rehabilitation – as much as every violated Kashmir Muslim does too. But what hapened to the Pandits (its different versions notwithstanding) cannot be used to make an argument against self-determination for the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

    I see the Kashmiri Pandit exodus/cleansing as a legacy of the Partition of the subcontinent: sad, inevitable, irreversible. But if my grandparents could survive Partition, the Pandits have faced much less than what the Punjabis faced in Partition. As far as suffering goes, there are few in the subcontinent who have not seen violence and migration.

    Yet those who want to be free have the right to be free. The rest is all red herring.


  38. ‘The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr’
    -Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him)

    Kudos Shivam Vij and Mridu Rai.


  39. I see the Kashmiri Pandit exodus/cleansing as a legacy of the Partition of the subcontinent: sad, inevitable, irreversible. But if my grandparents could survive Partition, the Pandits have faced much less than what the Punjabis faced in Partition. As far as suffering goes, there are few in the subcontinent who have not seen violence and migration.

    Yet those who want to be free have the right to be free. The rest is all red herring.

    sounds very sexy and sad…..i wonder who turn it wld be once pandits are thrown out. shias i guess! what would you suggest to the nagas and meitis in North east. who should leave theeir homeland. I guess the majority should remain and minority should migrate. Just because your forefathers sufferred pain. sorry boss i find you very insensitive and sick just because you want to be politically correct.


  40. I would like to rephrase my opinion. I do not believe Kashmir issue should be about Kashmiri Pandits, even though I am a direct victim of KP exodus. At the same time, I don’t think KMs deserve azadi or even that most of them really want azadi. If there was a peaceful and respectable way of carving out Kashmir valley and giving it to Pakistan, I would be for it — but I don’t believe there is. I have lived from birth to adulthood in Kashmir and have seen firsthand where Kashmiri preferences lie. At this time, the only peaceful solution seems to be for Kashmiris to go back to pre-1989 mode and for Indian government to ensure the mistakes of that period are not repeated.


    Your assertion that “Pakistanis and Indians are similar, and Kashmiris are different” does not hold any water. Only Indian Punjab and Pakistani Punjab are linguistically similar. Outside Punjab, there are multiple languages and peoples within India, within Pakistan and even within J&K. If you look at the diversity within Indian states (even mainstream ones), Kashmir is no different — it fits in perfectly well — which is why most Indians do not understand Kashmiri’s wishes to secede. The air of lighter skin and intellectual superiority does ail some Kashmiris (more so Pandits), but it is a sham. Some people’s assertion that Kashmiri Hindus are different from other Indian Hindus is also immaterial. Hindus are different everywhere — there’s not much common between a Marathi Hindu and a Tamil Hindu either. There is really nothing about Kashmir that makes it unfittable into India or Pakistan. It does not deserve azadi any more than any other Indian or Pakistani state does. I can hear a KM cursing about what that dark complexioned CRPF guy is doing on my street, but if your guys stop fighting against India, he has no business being there.

    That said, even the state of J&K is culturally and linguistically diverse, with each region having its own religion, language, geography, climate — it is like 3 countries in one state. I think it is that incongruous combination that caused the problem in the first place — Hari Singh did not have just Kashmir to think of when he made his fateful decision. Had Kashmir been by itself, we would not have had the problem today. I don’t believe current India has anything to do with how the princely state of J&K was formed.

    I also agree that Kashmir problem is mainly about Kashmiris, Kashmiri-speaking Kashmiris, majority of whom are (unfortunately ;-) ) Muslims — which means Jammu, Ladakh, Doda, etc should not be in the equation. This also means that no part of “Kashmir” is in Pakistan. Nobody in POK speaks Kashmiri, as far as I know. This also means there are no divided families because of the LOC, as some people believe. The only divided families are because of some KMs having migrated to mainland Pakistan in ’47. The name “Kashmir” is too often associated with regions that are not really Kashmir.

    Now, I never hear Kashmiri separatists talking about separation of Kashmir from Jammu and Ladakh, which, IMO, is the root of the problem. Why is that so? Why is there a “JK”LF and not KLF? Is it because they want some bargaining power for Pakistan, where they can bargain away the other regions? J has nothing to do with separatism, nor does Ladakh. The region’s politics dictated that even the linguistic state division of India didn’t result in this state’s remapping. Did KMs speak up then?

    Opinions of Prof. Tikkoo are as much representative of KPs as those of Omar Abduallah (in your opinoion) are representative of KMs. I am sure Omar got some KM votes, Prof. Tikkoo will get no KP votes.

    Regarding KP’s migration, I will reassert that Jagmohan DID NOT do it. My own family and all relatives migrated and Jagmohan had nothing to do with any of it — directly or indirectly. I don’t blame every KM for the migration either and I know some of them miss us too. But the atmosphere created in Kashmir in 89-90 was conducive to KPs migration — with anti-India and anti-Indian slogans blaring from mosque loudspeakers, streets full of anti-India protesters, newspaper ads asking Hindus to leave, those midnight knocks, killing of prominent KPs, etc. Can you tell me nothing of that happened? Jagmohan did not create any of that. Migrated KPs will never return to Kashmir. KP’s migration has always been a one-way traffic — for centuries. We always thought of India as the larger country we had, and the Muslim majority was always more or less inhospitable for us. The 89-90 exodus was a big instalment of the migration, which continued before and after. Since then , a whole generation of KPs has grown up not knowing Kashmir, and a whole generation of KMs has grown up not knowing KPs. So, in reality, as Kashmiris, it doesn’t matter to us what happens to Kashmir. But as Indians, it does.

    Calling India names like poor/starved/snakecharmer will not help you. Only a Westerner has the right to use those names, because he is different. You are not — even though you may think so. With all its problems, notwithstanding the statistics, even looking from an outsider’s view, India is much better, more successful, more secular, than Pakistan. Which does not mean you have to choose India, but who is asking you? In a political system it is not always possible to ask everyone what country he or she wants. If human rights violations are your primary issue, and those of this blog, then those should be addressed as such. They are my concern too, and I think they will end when Kashmiris stop fighting.


    1. I agree with you Raman, as many other observers elsewhere have done, on the point that there needs to be some disaggregation of Kashmir from the other regional constituents of the state of J&K. Why should the boundaries drawn in 1846 be held so sacred by, for example, the JKLF when it puts forward its propositions for a solution. But, Raman, forgive me if I’m wrong: isn’t Muzaffarabad in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, Kashmiri-speaking? Are there no Kashmiris, fully respecting your linguistic criterion, in Kishtwar and Doda? I know Mirpuris are not Kashmiri-speaking primarily but they, especially in contemporary Britain, identify themselves as Kashmiris. I need help understanding how any territorially drawn lines will help us think through these complications compounded over the years. But, perhaps people like you, me and others talking on this post (sorry, Shivam, for hijacking it) who hold no brief for any government could contemplate thinking along new lines. Can we consider perhaps whether drawing lines isn’t a major part of the problem in the first place?


    2. @Mridu

      But, Raman, forgive me if I’m wrong: isn’t Muzaffarabad in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, Kashmiri-speaking? Are there no Kashmiris, fully respecting your linguistic criterion, in Kishtwar and Doda?

      Frankly speaking, I am not 100% sure. Wikipedia page on Muzaffarabad says the main language is a form of Hindko, and makes no mention of Kashmiri. People in Kishtwar do speak a variation of the Kashmiri language. In my experience, when Kashmiris talk about Kashmir, they mean the Kashmir province under Indian control. This means the pre-’90 districts of Srinagar, Baramulla, and Anantnag — currently these are 10 districts.

      I am not sure how Mirpuris become part of the Kashmiri equation.

      Anyway, I have 2 questions to ask the separatists (which includes you and Shivam):

      1. When you talk of self-determination, what do you have in mind? Does it mean asking just the people of Kashmir province to vote in a referendum to decide the fate of the Kashmir province, and leave the rest of the state alone — presumably with India? Those are the only people who are asking for self-determination. Or does it mean asking residents of the whole state about the whole state? I mean at what level do you think should the opinion of the majority apply?

      2. Hypothetically, if the state had been trifurcated in ’47 and Kashmir given to Pakistan, do you think Kashmiris would be fighting for indepedence today? I don’t believe so, and just want to call the bluff of people who say they want freedom from both Pakistan and India.


    3. Re. the two questions you pose (though evidently not to me), I take these to be at least moving the conversation forward as opposed to the most recent comment on the thread as of now, which has little to contribute other than some vague supremacist ideas of Sanatan Dharma:

      1) I think in the UN plebiscite question, it is J&K and what is known as Azad Kashmir that are together part of the equation; in other words, the territory which was under the rule of Hari Singh. That said, there is no reason why the precise geography of a referendum–if there is to be one–could not be creatively negotiated by the various sides involved, which in all likelihood would be different from that at issue in 1948 because time has not stood still and politics of the region has changed in the intervening period.

      2) Talking hypothetically is not very productive when we have actual history to debate. Specifically, there is little evidence to back the claim that majority of Kashmiris wanted accession to Pakistan back then, though of course that was part of the picture. We all know Sheikh Abdullah’s trajectory and how his support to India on the promise of an autonomous federation within it was undercut by the shifting configurations of Indian politics. What we also know is that whatever solidarity Kashmiris may have had with Pakistan was undermined and eroded by the actions of that country’s government in organizing the occupying and pillaging campaign of October 1947. Besides, Kashmiri leaders were always mindful of the petty politics within Pakistan (Punjab vs Sindh) that was sure to cut short their ambitions within that country. As I said above, however, hypothesizing is neither necessary nor very useful here.

      But let me indulge anyway: Yes, we would be witnessing a movement for independence in Kashmir had it acceded to Pakistan despite the common religion, because the politics of the nation-state cannot be subsumed within religion alone. Had that been the case, we would not have witnessed Bangladesh.


  41. Thanks, Shivam, for the initial post and sorting out the various comments on this entry, which i’ve followed regularly.
    in fact, i had posted this elsewhere, and within a few minutes a Pandit friend of mine–and having grown up in middle class delhi, i have several–reacted angrily at what was being suggested; pointing out that the militarization and cleansing started in the late 1980s, which is when the ‘problem’ begins for him and many others who share his opinion.

    obviously, it does not. to use a metaphor, you may not necessarily see a potato rot until it falls apart, but that doesn’t mean that rotting isn’t ongoing under the surface. the question of pandits is crucially important and must be resolved but we can’t allow people like PC or LK to use their present limbo to continue to wage a war that no one is going win save for those who benefit from continued violence, whoever they may be.

    Here I draw upon my study of African political history. The patent form of colonialism in India and later, in Africa, was ‘indirect rule’, i.e. ruling productive spaces directly and imposing civil law while letting local chiefs or maharajas and nizams rule others, so long as these spaces were integrated within the broader dynamics of colonial capitalism. Overall, as Mahmood Mamdani writes, the political goal of colonialism was to create structures that would allow a small minority to rule a large majority of disenfranchised subjects.
    Where the British ruled directly, this minority was white and after Independence easily indigenized, what many term the replacement of ‘gora sahibs’ by brown ones. But in areas under indirect rule–such as J&K–that ruling minority was already an indigenous ‘tribal’ one (i’m deliberately using the African parallel-term here), which included a large section of disproportionately better-off Pandits. *It is this legacy which explains the extraordinary and commendable advance of (diaspora) Pandits in professional and scientific fields, and not any ahistorical natural predisposition towards intelligence or hard work*

    But when the regime of indirect rule ends and majority rule begins, that indigenous ruling minority is faced with an existential choice: it can either choose to continue to rule through various machinations or it can recreate itself as properly nationalist in line with the majority sentiment.
    Of course, they may be considered pawns of colonialism and oppression and may fall victim to cleansing regardless, as happened in Idi Amin’s Uganda, but that is an important choice nonetheless. What you cannot do is ally with the more potent force at the larger scale–the center in India–for continued power without risking the ire of a strengthening nationalism where you are.

    In short, and bringing this home, if there is one lesson from whatever little Kashmiri history I know, it is that the claims to ‘origins’ must not obfuscate the politics of territory, which has definitely gone through different moods–independence, federation within india, less so, accession to pakistan–but what has remained a constant is the desire for self-determination. It must be confronted and resolved amicably, else Yugoslavia represents a particularly horrible model for a different sort of resolution.


    1. Thanks Rohit for your considered comment. I am in complete agreement with you. The first step to solve a problem is to admit there is a problem. Most Indians are not even taking that first step.


  42. Shivam… when you have already decided that India should give away Kashmir, who are we, mere mortals, to argue ?


  43. Dear Mridu Rai, it has come to my notice that you have written a book on the Kashmir issue. No doubt that book sold millions and millions of copies and made you world famous. Too bad I have no idea who you are. Ignorant me.

    But writing that world famous book on Kashmir makes you an expert on Kashmir – atleast in the eyes of Shivam and yourself. So I defer to your better judgement. Since you, a world famous writer, have decided its time for India to give up Kashmir, who am I to argue ?



  44. You are echoing the voice of communist Indian historians, and it clearly looks like you belong to the legacy of brown sahebs the English created for their own amusement.

    So I am not surprised at your attempt to please your source, a.k.a the western view of India. Grant money, fame, conformance..??

    And therefore, I am not surprised that being at Yale and with acquired lens to view your own motherland. I guess for you meaning in spirituality and the satya of dharma is lost on you to the extent that you are not able to speak the satya tone on this matter.

    According to you, history of kashmir should be looked only from the time british came to India.
    Sure, go ahead please your masters with pseudo secular intellect and keep playing your game of writing commentaries equipped with all the correct structure in arguments but reeking off your nastika, and mleccha conditioning of mind.

    I am out of this discussion. Kashmir keesee ek community kee nahi hai! It is not subject of your intellectual masturbation.
    It is the question of establishing Dharma back in the land with rich history in Sanatana Dharma centuries before people like you went to Yale to research India!

    And for the rest of Kashmiri Muslims(KM), I recently read somewhere that Islam is not even going to survive till next century. And if there is no islam, I am sure the problem of kashimiris will be no worse than the rest of the country. And no matter how you package it, kashmir issue is about religion.This is a difficult time for everyone.

    All your browbeating is useless and I hope you all will see the truth.

    If this is red herring to you because you are unable to see the context. And no, I don’t care what a conformist pseudo-secular thinks of.

    For peace and truth.


  45. it’s a pity. people continue to die, clearly and obviously at the hands of our security forces. yet we are debating the same old debates.
    Something is going terribly wrong there. I condemn it in strongest words, knowing that mere words can not bring peace and solace to the people who suffer.
    More condemnable is the silence of vast majority of us in India who who would rather not see or hear anything that’s been going on in kashmir so long.


  46. @Mridu

    Raman, how have you decided I am a separatist?

    From your comments I got an idea that you support the opinion of Kashmir not being part of India. If I got it wrong, I apologize. However, surprisingly, neither you nor others who advocate Kashmir’s secession have answered my two questions asked above.


  47. Dear Prashant and Ashutosh,

    First of all, Prashant, I don’t understand what the problem is that you are voicing. That I wrote a book (I don’t believe it sold millions of copies. I wish it would. And, no, no world fame either. That one I don’t even wish for)? Well, I did write a book. And so have many others. And so can you.

    If the problem is that you think I claim, on that basis, expertise on Kashmir. Well, I do claim some knowledge of Kashmir’s history and its present. It would be hard not to, after spending some years reading books, articles, newspapers, private papers, government records and other material covering two centuries.

    Do I claim, on that basis, to be an arbiter of the destiny of peoples? The plain answer is NO. I could ask you where you think I make that claim. But that would be yet another deviation from the conversation we should be having. In any case, you and I both know that I made no such claim.

    However, I would like to hear from you where I have decided that “its time for India to give up Kashmir”. I believe that is a part of what some of us are discussing here. And before anyone puts words in my mouth, let me state my view on that subject: India (the post 1947-republic of India) cannot give up what it never really had.

    Ashutosh, yes, I live in the United States, when I am not in India. I suppose the difference between us is that you breathe the air of India for more days in a year than I do. Does that alone make your “lens to view your motherland” more valid than mine? I may live in the United States, but I have researched my book in Delhi, in Jammu and in Srinagar. It’s those materials that have shaped my lens? What about you?

    As for assigning me to the category of “brown sahebs”, let me remind you that the chief marker of the brown saheb was the use of the English language and participation in its world. So, Ashutosh, join me in wearing that label.

    I echo no one’s views but my own so I won’t even bother to address that accusation, especially since you mention no specifics about my historiographical engagement and what in it you find objectionable. As for my insisting that the history of Kashmir should be examined only from the period the British arrived, I have no where suggested that. I happen to have focused on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of Kashmir’s history. Many others have researched other periods. If you are objecting to the fact that I did not, I don’t see how you can expect a reasonable response to such an unreasonable position. It would be like my objecting to my friend ordering a strawberry flavour for her ice-cream and not, like me, vanilla.

    You have no knowledge of my religious views or inclinations and those were not up for offer in my comment. But I will say this; I do not view this discussion or the crisis in Kashmir as a Dharm Yuddha.

    You say you are opting out of this discussion. I will say you are not in a discussion, to begin with, when all you are doing is name-calling.

    I apologize to the rest of you for prolonging this string with this response, irrelevant to the questions at hand. I hope you will understand that I could not have let such aspersions pass without some comment.

    Best wishes,


  48. Dear Mridu,

    I approved those comments by Prashant and Ashutosh only because they expose themselves. Unable to counter facts given by you, they resort to personal attacks. More such comments will not be approved.



  49. @Rohit Negi
    1)..which is exactly why this problem is convoluted to the point of being insolvable. The demand for independence (from Dogras in the past, and from India now) has always been ONLY in the valley. So, why should KMs, based on their numbers, decide the fate of Jammu and Ladakh? Or why should Jammu’s Hindus have a say about the fate of Kashmiris? In spite of the erstwhile princely state’s constitution, the problem is limited to only one constituent – Kashmir valley.

    2) I disagree with your answer. As I said, I am a Kashmiri and have firsthand experience of what my friends want. If Kashmir had gone to Pakistan in ’47, it would have been a win-win for everybody. We (KPs) would have been rehabilitated the way Punjabi or Sindhi Hindus were, and KMs would have been happy being part of Pakistan. They are talking about Azadi just so that they sound less communal, and also because they know choosing Pakistan seems foolish based on the way Pakistan has gone. But whatever happened in Pakistan would have happened after the fact. The example of Bangladesh is not relevant because Bangladesh was geographically separate, and there were linguistic issues which are not similar to Kashmir’s. There is no reason why Pakistanis would have treated Kashmiris the way they treated Bengalis. Why is the “politics of nation-state” not relevant for Indian Bengal or other states?

    All this brings us to just one thing — Kashmir is the unfinished business of partition, when all Muslim majority areas went to Pakistan. Everybody is paying the price for that unfinished business today.


    1. 1) i should’ve been clearer, that is precisely what I meant by changed circumstances and revisiting the geography of referendum. Clearly, places such as Laddakh aren’t in the frame when it comes to Independence. I do believe that this can be achieved and is not something ‘convoluted to the point of being insolvable’, as you suggest.

      2) the thing with debates about hypothetical scenarios is that no one wins (or loses). I’m open to being critiqued on my conjecture, but it is exactly that, conjecture. What happened around 1947 was a result of many factors–individuals like Hari Singh, Abdullah, Nehru, Jinnah etc influenced events but it was also a result of people’s actions more generally.
      Surely the point today is to think about moving beyond this stalemate, because the costs are too heavy–for Muslims, for Hindus, for other Indians and Pakistanis.
      And this is the the one point i’d like to make about your specific line of argument. You say ‘Kashmir is the unfinished business of partition’. I agree. But what I don’t see in your words, however, is anything about how to move forward. They only point in one direction: more of the same.


  50. The example of Bangladesh is not relevant because Bangladesh was geographically separate, and there were linguistic issues which are not similar to Kashmir’s. There is no reason why Pakistanis would have treated Kashmiris the way they treated Bengalis.


    A google search will easily reveal to you that Pakistan has had a problem in Baluchistan since 1947 and it is still not resolved completely. The Pakistan army was, during a significant part ofl the 1970s, engaged in fighting its own people in that region. Thanks to the lessons learned from the Bangladesh disaster, the Pakistan government did address the problem politically which to some extent lessened the separatist tendencies. That, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1978, I guess. But the issue is still not totally resolved.

    Through the 1970s and 80s, there was a movement in Pakistan seeking independence for Sindh, led by the redoubtable G. M. Syed. The movement may be dormant right now (I haven’t heard much.) but I doubt it is totally dead. Incidentally, G. M. Syed was a great friend of his fellow Sindhi, L. K. Advani.

    I remember one of India’s former high commissioners to Pakistan, G. Parthasarathy, writing that once he received a memorandum from some 21 different groups within Pakistan seeking Indian support in their struggle to be free of Pakistan. Admittedly, G. Parthasarathy is a “hawk” when it comes to Pakistan but there is no reason to suspect that he is lying on this issue.

    In short, the point is this: there is no guarantee that the Kashmiri Muslims would have been “happy” if they had become part of Pakistan. Indeed, I would argue they probably would not have been, because Pakistan has dealt with its heterogeneity with much less skill than has India with its much greater heterogeneity. Much as we may criticise our politicians, we do have to give them some credit.

    At any rate, the issue of whether the Kashmiri Muslims would have been happy in Pakistan is irrelevant. If they want to join Pakistan, that’s their call though as a Kashmiri yourself, you cannot be as “academic” (for lack of a better word) as I am.

    I would be interested in discussing the questions you raised. Even if we in India accept the principle of azadi, it is not at all clear how to go about implementing it, as you correctly note. Madhu Kishwar has observed that even the Kashmiris demanding azadi are not clear about it. But given the heterogeneity of the state, this is a very important question. Kishwar seems to be about the only person who has exerted herself to addressing this issue (to the best of my knowledge), as far back as 2002. But there seems little interest in discussing her proposals. For what it’s worth, the article titled Why fear people’s choice? can be found in pdf format here.


  51. Dear Raman and Rohit,

    Let me suggest one line of thought. Like Rohit, mine is only a conjectural proposition. I agree with Rohit entirely that what we need is new thinking, not the same old ideas that lead us to the same old stalemates.

    Might I suggest that there is at least one fundamental problem with the way we’ve all been thinking about Kashmir not just Kashmir, in India, Pakistan but also abroad (in the unfortunately limited arenas anyone has been talking about it at all outside the subcontinent) so far, is in one way or another, about territory and how lines demarcating it should be drawn, not drawn or re-drawn. Which is why so many discussions begin with maps–of princely jammu and kashmir, maps of sub-regions of the state, maps of India and pakistan with kashmir, maps of demographic distribution within the state usually including religious denominations– and, for the most part, get nowhere .

    I think that in the era of nation-states (one which will remain for the foreseeable future), it would be foolish of me to suggest that territorial borders can be dispensed with or got around. But what if the content of those lines could be rethought? By this I mean that as things stand today, territorial lines mark the boundaries of the sovereignty of states. In India and Pakistan, the sovereignty of the state is thought of in the most monolithic form imaginable. Which also means that the constituent units of these two nation-states do not share this sovereignty which rests solely in the hands of the central government whose writ runs supreme. The constitution of India allocates power between between centre and state, overwhelmingly weighted in favour of the centre, but it does not distribute sovereignty in any way. But why should that necessarily be the case? Why should the sovereignty of the Indian people be managed by the center? As we all know, Indian elections over the last few decades have shown repeatedly that political forces have shifted to the regions — the heyday of the Congress party’s dominance is long past. Actually, even with the Congress, there is a long history of the High Command never having had full control over its regional cadres and so supporting even more adamantly the centralizing proclivities of the state structure. I believe that an important part of the problem in Kashmir (as in other regions where there exist secessionist/separatist strands) has been the result of an over-centralized state structure bearing down on it and its people without negotiating its mandate to do so. This is true of all other parts of India and Pakistan (even if we don’t want to talk about East Pakistan, let’s not forget that to this day there are ongoing movements in Baluchistan, the NWFP and Sindh that want to throw the yoke of the Punjab-dominated centre and their repression has been brutal).

    These overweeing centres relate to holding on relentlessly to the idea that sovereignty can only be singular and indivisible. It is worth remembering that the longer history of polities in the subcontinent, before the British colonial state changed things dramatically, was of layered sovereignties. I am not proposing a return to pre-colonial India but am pointing out that the idea is not as alien as one might think.

    Best wishes,


  52. Impassioned and moving piece shivam — although, as with so much on the internet, the comments thread featured some rather distressing responses. Kashmir is a personally difficult issue for me: I do not wish to be implicated in a discourse that legitimizes violence for “good, patriotic ends”, but I also resist the uncritical exhortation to “azaadi” that (e.g.) Indian progressives wittingly or unwittingly sometimes seem to fall prey to (i.e. in the sense that if Indian nationalism or Pakistani nationalism has been a problem from kashmir’s perspective; Kashmiri nationalism would be no less problematic from the perspective of kashmiri minorities, and even for Kashmiri Muslims who are not from the sunni/valley groups — and yet if one makes this point one is immediately implicated in a nationalist discourse that one might not wish to endorse)… I had written something trying to grapple with this a couple of years ago, although I do not know how successful I was since some read it as a kind of endorsement of the status quo; the whole discourse has become far too binary:



  53. Re: “These overweeing centres relate to holding on relentlessly to the idea that sovereignty can only be singular and indivisible. It is worth remembering that the longer history of polities in the subcontinent, before the British colonial state changed things dramatically, was of layered sovereignties. I am not proposing a return to pre-colonial India but am pointing out that the idea is not as alien as one might think.”

    Even today, it is a de facto reality in large parts of the country: in my opinion, there is simply no other way to characterize sovereignty except as “shared” (between the Indian nation-state and various non-state-yet-state-type actors) in large parts of the North-East, and in the Naxal-affected districts as well. Less obvious, but perhaps no less “shared”, has been the rise of non-state challengers to state power in major urban areas as well (minor e.g.: even when Pakistan tours India, due to Shiv Sena threats the team cannot play a cricket match in Mumbai even when the Sena is not in power; last year, when a threat was made against Aussie players, Sharad Pawar met Bal Thackeray who holds no official position). The point isn’t that all these examples are “the same”, but that the nation-state’s ideal/self-image as having a monopoly on violence is an IDEAL, and reality is often far from it (i.e. we are talking of a continuum, and not of a present/absent distinction). From Indian history too, the decline of the Mughal empire provides an interesting example: in most areas where the Marattha polity rose at the expense of the Mughal state, the result was an ADDED layer of sovereignty — it was not the replacement of one with the other. [I stress, I cite an example, not a uniform rule; wholescale replacement has also been common, e.g. the Mughals replacing the Lodi sultanate; Magadha conquering kingdoms, etc. etc.]


  54. Mridu Rai: your last comment above is brilliant. I came late to this thread, and have not yet had a chance to read all of the comments, but you have articulated in a superbly lucid fashion the failure of the imagination that bedevils both the “mainstream” AND the “secessionist” positions (the latter unable to conceive of any political horizon that is not a mirror image of that which it struggles against)…


  55. Qalandar,
    Thank you for those kind words. I must say I was a little disappointed that the conversation came to a screeching halt and so am particularly glad that you have joined in. I would like a little time to read the article to which you have provided a link above. May I return after I have done that and at the end of my working day? My clock is on east coast time in the United States.


  56. @ Qalandar:
    I enjoyed reading your piece very much and I think it is very far from endorsing the status quo. It is precisely this sort of examination of the nation-state, for what it cannot do and what it actually does, as well as the recognition of the severe limits of its emancipatory promise and potential that I, too, have been arguing for in various places. I think your piece does it magnificently well.

    As you point out, the nation-state can only create second-class citizens and minorities. As I said in one of my comments somewhere up there, this is particularly true of the form that emerged after 1919 when deliberations between European powers about how to break up and rearrange the Ottoman Empire settled on the principle of territorial borders encompassing homogeneously identified peoples. The calamitous results in terms of triggering genocide and ethnic cleansing in Nazi Germany and in large parts of central and eastern Europe have barely ceased to be true today, not to mention, as you point out, similar outcomes following in the wake of the adoption of the nation-state form in formerly colonized Africa and Asia. And, again as you point out, contemporary west European states such as Germany, for all its divesting itself of its Nazi past and modes of functioning, still cannot “accommodate ethnic minorities … comfortably”.

    So, I agree entirely, that if the demand for azadi in Kashmir seeks fulfilment in a replication of the nation-state, then it will have moved no distance from the very entity it’s battling. I am constantly astounded that this should not be plain to see to everyone. And I am speaking not of people who have every vested interest in defending the nation-state but of like-minded folks who, too, are concerned about the abominable treatment of tribals, the murder of thousands of Sikhs in 1984 and of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, and human rights violations that proliferate with attempts to hold on with military force to entities that wish to leave the union. As I mentioned in a comment on a different post on Kafila, I was once on a panel that included, among others, Yasin Malik. I had expected to hear something quite different from an individual who had been battling so hard – and paid a severe price in terms of torture in Indian prisons—to throw off the yoke of the Indian state. Instead, what I heard were assiduous efforts to validate Kashmiri demands on the grounds that they were as democratic and secular as the Indian nation-state. I asked him why he should accept the gauge the Indian nation-state had fixed and applied to adjudicate on the “legitimacy” of demands against it at all. Why should he be at pains to prove that his vision for an independent state was as secular as the Congress’. I don’t think that question made sense to him at all. And as you put it, this has nothing to do with the decency of Kashmiri leaders like him. Nor do I doubt that Yasin Malik and others are entirely sincere in their espousing these values.

    But, as with, large numbers of reading and writing Indians, there is a lot more of decolonizing of the mind that needs to happen before the Indian nation-state’s yard-stick for defining legitimate aspirations and challenges, which were themselves the yard-sticks of the British imperial government adopted wholesale by an earlier generation of Indians in political resistance, can be challenged and/or dismantled.

    Having said this, however, I am having difficulty with agreeing on the relative merit you find in the Indian nation-state when compared with those, as you put it, “premised on explicit notions of religion, language, ethnicity, blood in some sense”. I think it’s a very powerful point you make that the difference in the Indian case, in comparison with Pakistan, is that of their different founding rationales. In the Indian case the gap between promise and actual implementation (the hypocrisy, as you call it) provides the conceptual and political space to call the nation-state on its lapses/breaches and to demand that it correct them. It is possible for religious minorities to ask that it be as secular as it proclaims itself to be, for unrepresented groups to demand that it be as democratic as its characterization of itself etc. That is, to my mind, a very important distinction that you draw.

    But my difficulty is, plainly put, one of trying to decide whether the fact that such a possibility exists in principle should be sufficient to outweigh the reality that it has seldom been realized. And I would argue that it cannot be utilized by those who need it the most. The result is that the Indian state’s breaches of its founding principles continue unchecked and its hypocrisy not called out.

    I teach a class titled (rather unimaginatively) Postcolonial South Asia, 1947 to the present. And a question I ask of my students every time I teach the class is to consider whether, if they belonged to a religious minority in India, they would find themselves more comfortable with the Congress’ overt espousal of a secular ideal that it covertly betrays in practice or the overtly “communal” groups such as the BJP. [I have put quotation marks around the word communal because I have problems with that term. But I am shamelessly using it as a convenient short hand here]. And the viewpoints I get are unendingly interesting. There is frequently frustration, too, because we never end with an answer, but I never intended for that question to produce a single definitive answer. In the process of discussing these positions, however, what emerges for me is that the unchallenged double-functioning of the self-avowedly secular Congress party is infinitely more damaging because it hollows out the term itself and permits the BJP to call itself secular (and, of course, it puts me in the unbelievably distressing position of having to agree with the Hindu Right and religious supremacists of other communities on at least one point, viz their characterization of the Congress as a pseudo-secular party).

    So, I suppose what I am saying in the end is that I would not be so willing to let nation-states like the Indian one off the hook. At some level, isn’t the relativity on which you argue that the Indian nation-state is less inhuman than others not very different from the flawed reasoning you point out that is made by those in the Kashmiri movement (not to mention those supporting it) that they will “simply do a better job”. Could they not argue that what they are doing is precisely what you point out as a possibility available in the Indian version, viz “call[ing] out on [the Indian state’s] failures”? I guess I want to push your criticism further and say that since the nation-state form itself is problematic, it should be rejected in its entirety.

    To return to the heart of your piece, I think we are in agreement that the problem with current Kashmiri calls for Azadi is that the state it seeks to achieve will yield nothing but another version of the entity and ideal it resists, and therefore, it cannot but replicate the crimes it has sought to escape. But that still leaves us with the fact that there are genuine grievances for which Kashmiris are demanding redress when they demand azadi. I don’t think either of us questions their right to demand it, either. If it’s the form of the political remedy that is questionable, then the demand for azadi in itself need not (in fact, it cannot) be discounted. What if the goal of that azadi were different? What would that look like?

    These are not questions I am expecting you to answer. But for me it’s an important part of thinking ahead and in new ways.

    In concluding, I want to reiterate how very much I enjoyed reading your excellent piece and thinking through it; the cautions you bring out need to be taken very seriously.

    Best wishes,


  57. Dear Mridu and Qalandar,

    Though I haven’t commented in a while, I have been following how the argument has developed on this blog, especially related to the problematization of the nation-state.
    Personally, I would like to see an autonomous federation within the sort of decentered sovereignty that has been mentioned. And the search for the ‘pure’ nation-state, in Kashmir and elsewhere, troubles me no end. I agree with Qalandar that there is a space for productive democratic politics, where democracy signifies what Aditya Nigam calls those politics not yet co-opted or completely crushed by the nation-state, simply put.
    What I am struggling with–and I totally welcome thoughts on this–is what all this means for the people on the streets of Srinagar and elsewhere? Yes, the debate on the form of sovereignty in Kashmir is vital, but how precisely does it advance the struggle against the occupation?
    Given what exists, and what anything other than a nationalist analysis of the Indian state suggests, unless the Indian state itself can be fundamentally reshaped, its actions in Kashmir are only going to be authoritarian. Absent that transformation, we cannot expect a significant shift in the structure of the state in Kashmir and beyond. Within that discourse, Yasin Malik’s ideas make complete sense, although I get the sense that the younger generation in Kashmir is less and less likely to operate within the co-ordinates of the ‘secular-democracy’ of the Indian state which, however, is also always accompanied by its shadowy superego. Following Zizek, “Superego is the obscene nightly law that necessarily accompanies, as its shadow, the public law”. I would go further than Zizek here and state that the superego is no longer shadowy, it is the very face of Indian secular democracy in Kashmir.
    I am almost reminded of Joe Sacco’s cheeky comment in his brillant ‘Palestine’ when he says that ‘every nation should have its own state to fuck up’. It is exclusionary, problematic, and flawed, but it is what–most?–Kashmiris seem to want.


  58. Re: “But my difficulty is, plainly put, one of trying to decide whether the fact that such a possibility exists in principle should be sufficient to outweigh the reality that it has seldom been realized. And I would argue that it cannot be utilized by those who need it the most. The result is that the Indian state’s breaches of its founding principles continue unchecked and its hypocrisy not called out.”

    I would say that the hypocrisy is daily called out by people such as yourself, activists all over the country, protesters, etc. The problem is not that it is not being called out, but that it is not having as much of an effect as it should. I guess my point is not to let anyone off the hook, but to recognize that certain accomodations, re-configurations, will be more possible in the Indian Union than (e.g.) in Pakistan — if what people feel uncomfortable with is the sense of “moral superiority” that they think I am implying, I would demur. I am simply saying that one system offers more “space” than another — which is not a reason to break out the champagne, but to enable one to direct ones energies to secure greater justice.* For Kashmir, I was NOT saying that constitutionally everything should continue as before; but if someone puts a gun to my head and demands that I “choose” in a binary way, I cannot support another “hard” state on the map of South Asia — the previous ones have done disastrous things, and nothing suggests future ones will do anything different, and might even do worse than some. At some point, the argument that every one has the right to mess up in the way that has been done earlier cannot hold. [A similar kind of argument is made in the environmental context, where many Indians will say that because Western countries have developed by polluting the hell out of the earth, so we should be allowed to do so as well, consequences be damned; I do not deny the justice of this argument, but it will be small consolation when the planet is a living hell.]

    *[Take the Ahmedi issue in pakistan; recently, after the massacres in an Ahmedi mosque in Lahore, Nawaz Sharif referred to the dead as his brothers, leading to an outcry among Islamist parties as to how dare he call apostates/heretics as his brothers. It has been very difficult in Pakistan to struggle on the Ahmedi issue: one can perhaps argue that they should be treated better out of some vague humanitarian sense, but specific claims that they should be classed among Muslims etc. is very very difficult indeed. The notion that non-Muslims should have the exact same claims vis-a-vis the state is also as difficult. This is NOT imo because of some greater fanaticism or intolerance among Pakistanis as individuals, but simply a consequence of a certain kind of system. One that is less “flexible” than its Indian counterpart. That greater flexibility should be recognized and not dismissed — so that the struggle for a more just world can proceed. I favor some “alternative” solution for Kashmir, something in-between the “hard” state and the status quo, but such a re-configuration is more possible given the horizons that are in place in the Indian system than they would be under some other systems. (For instance, it might be difficult to “sell” even the sort of alternative solution Musharraf claims to have been close to reaching with GoI, to many in Pakistan’s defense/state-elite — which is perhaps why this sort of thing was attempted only when Musharraf was weak and desperate — as it seems like a climb down from the logic of partition that self-evidently underlies Pakistan (i.e. it’s like simple arithmetic: if Hindu majority areas go to India, then Muslim-majority areas should not be part of it; etc. etc.)…


  59. PS: those (commenters on my blog and elsewhere) who have accused me of an airy-fairy impractical view that is enabled by the fact that I live far away in NYC, I would insist on the greater practicality of my approach. Because it is more practical to appreciate and acknowledge distinctions and differences, and to account for those in determining how to proceed; than in acting as if everything is the same. No one can expect such differentiation from those who are caught up in the violence, who have lost loved ones, etc. — which is precisely why those of us who have the privilege of some kind of distance (emotional, physical, etc.) NOT abdicate our responsibilities.

    Gandhi’s anti-colonial struggle would have had to have taken a different form than one against French rule in Algeria — this is not because the average Briton is a better human being than the average Frenchman, but because that system offered a certain space (one should say its espousal of liberal ideology COMBINED with colonialism exposed a certain contradiction that could be exploited by the Indian nationalist movement). Whereas, the ideology of French liberalism COMBINED with the odd system whereby Algeria was technically PART OF FRANCE AND NOT A COLONY (even though Algerians did not have the same political rights as the French) made the struggle very difficult indeed. [In this sense, of course, the Kashmiri movement is more analogous to the latter than the to the former].


  60. Re: “But my difficulty is, plainly put, one of trying to decide whether the fact that such a possibility exists in principle should be sufficient to outweigh the reality that it has seldom been realized. And I would argue that it cannot be utilized by those who need it the most.”

    I would say that it has seldom been adequately realized — but the continuing relevance of “minorities” to the political project, the greater “subaltern” possibilities unleashed by the so-called lower-caste politics of recent decades, all testify to the difference. I bring up Pakistan simply because this is almost like a lab-case, of two countries with often similar social structures and languages, with one of the most important political differences being foundational ideology. [Heck, it is reflected to an extent in the countries’ demography; despite similar %ages of minorities in West Punjab and (e.g.) North India pre-1947, only very tiny %ages were left in West Pakistan once the bloodshed stopped — clearly, many must have fled simply because they could see no place for themselves in a state that did not even claim to represent them; can we dismiss these stark differences on the ground as irrelevant? I’m certainly not suggesting that Muslims who “stayed behind” in India did so because they were all adherents of Nehruvian ideology, but it defies all logic to hold that a state’s official ideology makes no difference (if that were the case, why are progressives so opposed to the BJP-rule in the first place?)] The logic of Pakistan has made it very difficult for minorities to participate in the national project to any meaningful degree (I am not suggesting the Indian state’s relationship vis-a-vis Muslim minorities is acceptable or good, but it is far more so than is currently feasible in Pakistan (I do not know enough about Bangladesh so will not comment; perhaps they have done better, perhaps not). To dismiss this distinction as meaningless, as mere symbolism, etc., is to ignore the practical differences even symbolism makes (in order for even hypocrisy to be plausible to anyone, it must be different from the hopelessness of those who speak the truth, with no flexibility). And for some (Muslims; Dalits; the so-called “adivasis” are the worst off and have probably hardly gotten anything good from the current order), it is not just symbolism but represents important progress.

    I well understand that people react strongly because they are sick of the smug air of self-congratulation that often pervades these distinctions. But one cannot pretend distinctions don’t matter simply because one is afraid of being misunderstood or being lumped together with more problematic agendas. Stated differently, reject my view if you see it as a mark of complacency — but not if, as I see it, it is a call for greater justice.


  61. PS — there is also the question of minorities. To be blunt, the 1947 partition performed a grave injustice against religious minorities, Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh. The Kashmir issue cannot ignore that dimension either: I return to my global warming analogy. Just because minorities have been fucked up before is no reason to wilfully close our eyes to new minorities and piously hope that this time people will do better. And people say I’M impractical?! Democracy is not distinguished from something else because of majoritarianism — even mob rule has that — but because of the question of minorities. India is failing its Kashmiri “minority” but within J&K, what are the signs for other minorities? To date, isn’t it a problematic aspect of the Kashmir azaadi movement that its social base is so very narrow? Where are the Shiites, let alone the more “marginal” communities/tribals/nomads etc.? Not to mention the 15-20% of the state that is not Muslim at all. To this outsider, the movement remains a very Valley-and-Sunni-centric movement. This doesn’t undermine their right to seek justice, but it does offer me a pointer as to what might follow a new state…


  62. @Qalandar “This doesn’t undermine their right to seek justice,”

    @Mridu “If it’s the form of the political remedy that is questionable, then the demand for azadi in itself need not (in fact, it cannot) be discounted. ”

    I believe it would be fruitful to define justice, or, to state the principle being used to arrive at just courses of action. I humbly submit that JS Mill’s utilitarianism is very effective to set a necessary and sufficient condition for just actions. Specific to the Kashmir issue, I think both the following statements are not CATEGORICALLY just, until and unless they are validated by utilitarianism.

    1. Justice demands that any subset of people in a nation, if they want to be free, should have such a right.
    2. Justice demands that Kashmir is a part of India and any solution should be worked out within the confines of the Indian constitution.

    If one is holding to any of the two above statements as categorically just, I believe there will be contradiction in their argument, or it would not be sustainable. IMHO If we can agree that a fluid zero base utilitarianism is the basis for evaluation,we can save a great deal of bandwidth wasted in talking through each other.


  63. Apologies for the radio silence — writing deadlines and travel — but I would like to rejoin the conversation as soon as I can in a more substantial way. Therefore, I apologize, also, in advance for what I’m about to do, i.e. throw in another strand that I hope is not a diversion but related to the questions we’re raising talking about here before leaving. This is about an emailed question to the Riz Khan show and the response by one of the guests on the question of Pakistan and a secular state. The link is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVu4tKSy3io and the particular q and a I’m referring to at circa minute 20 and some seconds.


  64. Dear Rohit and Qalandar,

    Returning to the conversation, and re: your comment, Rohit: “Given what exists, and what anything other than a nationalist analysis of the Indian state suggests, unless the Indian state itself can be fundamentally reshaped, its actions in Kashmir are only going to be authoritarian. Absent that transformation, we cannot expect a significant shift in the structure of the state in Kashmir and beyond.”

    I agree with you, Rohit and so forgive me if I end up just repeating what you’re saying. So, given that the “secular-democratic” over-centralized Indian nation-state structure and its near-identical twin the Pakistani one are what is on offer it is difficult, perhaps even unreasonable, to expect Kashmiris, contesting the Indian state’s dominance to bear the responsibility for re-imagining the political forms that the subcontinent’s pluralism requires. Not that I think you are suggesting this be done, but I am thinking out loud (on paper!) about many conversations I’ve had. In fact, I think I have been unreasonable when I have expected Kashmiri leaders to not speak in the same idioms as the Indian state when resisting it. After all, in other contexts, I am as aware as anyone else about the difficulties of alterity in the language of resistance.

    Therefore, as I see it we agree that the change must originate where the problem is viz. in the entity being resisted. We also agree substantially that the Indian nation-state needs to be “fundamentally reshaped”. If the Indian state’s relative advantage compared to others, as you, Qalandar, argue, is that it provides space for questioning the implementation of its ideals and calling upon it to correct itself, then I think we can also see the resistance movement(s) in Kashmir, and elsewhere, as precisely an instance of using that space/possibility to call out to nation-state to live up to its promise (to be truly federal or, in this instance, to grant the autonomy or referendum/plebiscite it promised etc. Please note that the latter is not a ‘solution’ I find useful).

    Then isn’t the Indian state committing a grave error in not treating this c. twenty-year-old insurgency (even it discounts, incorrectly the 43 years that preceded it) as a call to correct itself? To rethink its form, if not more, its actions as also perhaps a signal that there might be a problem with the mandate it thinks it has from “its” people (and that it has taken for granted rather than negotiated since 1947). And I do not believe, electoral results have provided such a universal mandate as is assumed because they do not offer a choice on, for example, questions like whether constituent units of the union should have the right to secede. So, yes, the Indian state provides a space to call its non-performance into question but what use is that if it does nothing about it? And, as I see it, in the case of Kashmir it has not shifted one iota in its thinking.

    I realize that all of this in the realm of theorizing – I can almost hear the screamed objections of impracticality ( “airy-fairy” theorization) of some of the commentators above, if any of them are still with this thread who seem so blissfully certain about their views on the Indian state, their nationalism and the incorrectness of others. But I think that what you said somewhere above, Qalandar, is spot on, viz the worst of our problems stems from the failure of imaginations on all sides. And the stalemate it produces is so screamingly obvious. So I think it’s vital—indeed I feel like I am being annoying in stating the obvious—that the first step be a re-conceptualization, of the problem, of the state’s structure, of its ideals, and I won’t draw up a shopping list here of what one could/should re-conceptualize. But my point is that it cannot be seen as a trivial exercise (as a self-indulgent playing with ones intellectual parts, so to speak, as I think was the accusation that someone above made) that is somehow irrelevant or secondary to the “problem” on hand. I see it as a necessary, if not the most important, step in breaking the pattern of the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir. If it would move away from thinking and acting along the lines of a “Kashmir problem” and consider instead the “Indian problem”, we might see a much-needed questioning of the force with which the Indian government defends its position in Kashmir (and elsewhere).

    Then maybe it could also dispense with some of the yard-sticks it has deployed to question the legitimacy of the resistance in Kashmir in order to crush it. Here I would like to refer back to a passage in your article in Outlook, Qalandar (and please know that I do not believe that you are arguing the Indian government’s line, or justifying it, but your words here do help me think about and around the Indian government’s language). You wrote:

    ‘Theoretically, one does not need to be other than “wholly Bengali”, “wholly Tamil”, or “wholly Muslim” in order to be utterly Indian; one cannot say the same of Pakistan and its Hindus citizens, and the religious colour of the Kashmiri movement means it is almost inconceivable that this won’t be true of an independent Kashmir as well (even leaving aside the obvious ethnic dimension).’

    I am not going to elaborate here on my views on why I do not believe the Pakistani state is so very different from the Indian one. More pertinently for now, I hope, I’d like to return to your words above, because I wonder if you are entirely correct in suggesting that in India one’s national identity and one’s regional or religious (etc.) identities are fully equivalent. My understanding is that ‘unity in diversity’ works through the insistence that one is Indian first and only then whatever else one wishes to be. I think there is an import conceptual difference there. And to me it explains what is otherwise bewildering, incomprehensible, mind-boggling, if not monstrous, i.e. how and why perfectly good people and mostly well-intentioned ones do think the Indian state’s actions in Kashmir are in the end/at some level justifiable, even if they are critical about “excesses” – in fact, it seems logical from that perspective to view inherent flaws only as “excesses”, “aberrations” etc. I believe there is a, perhaps unstated, but still explicit and palpable privileging of the national over other identities/affiliations that goes on in India. Again, it may not manifest itself as a daily-administered oath of allegiance (small mercy), but it is nonetheless as powerful not only in its normalizing capacity but, related to that, in its effect in generating consent for what is only, at bottom, an arbitrary exercise viz determining what claims can or cannot be rightfully made against the state. I like to think that it is only because of such a prioritizing of “national” interests over those of overwhelming numbers of Kashmiris that the Indian state, its representatives and so many of its citizens can justify defending the former at (almost) any cost.

    I also have a disagreement, Qalandar, with your interpretation of the use of the religious idiom in Kashmir but I think I will leave that for now as I think I have already gone on for longer than I intended to. And that question is something I have struggled with through a whole book so I’m incapable of a quick summary of my view.

    So I stop here for now and with thanks for the opportunity to think through and about so many of these incredibly complex positions. I hope this conversation is an ongoing one, even if not necessarily here.

    Best wishes,

    P.S.: @ Rahul, I think the disagreement I have with your statement of the problem is one that you yourself point to; “justice” is not some fixed abstract above context. So the two propositions you put forward are evidently irreconcilable and they cannot but be that.


    1. I think it’s vital—indeed I feel like I am being annoying in stating the obvious—that the first step be a re-conceptualization, of the problem, of the state’s structure, of its ideals, and I won’t draw up a shopping list here of what one could/should re-conceptualize.

      You are not being annoying but I would appreciate your elaborating this point. How should this re-conceptualizing be done? Do we appoint a constituent assembly to come up with a new constitution, as you seem to be suggesting? (Apologies if I got this wrong.)

      If this is indeed what you are suggesting, then a note of caution is in order. In one of his Frontline essays, A. G. Noorani observes (sorry, I don’t remember the issue) that constitution making involves a significant element of luck. We were lucky that the small elite who were involved in designing our constitution between 1946-50, despite disagreements, agreed on many things. (Their choices can be questioned, of course.) Note, on the other hand, the even smaller Pakistani elite disagreed so vehemently that they couldn’t come up with a constitution and in 1954, the constituent assembly was dismissed and a new one appointed.

      There are now many more politically aware groups in India than there were in 1947. In such a milieu, as A. G. Noorani observes, there is no guarantee that constitution making is even feasible. So before junking our constitution, we ought to think whether this is something we really want to do.

      If a new constitution is not what you are suggesting, then exactly how is the re-conceptualization to be done? As I said, your thoughts would be appreciated, preferably as a separate post. I am sure the moderators would be more than happy to accommodate a guest post from you.


  65. To be honest, I don’t think that India is Pakistan’s “near-identical twin” and I don’t think that case can be made, but I’d rather not get into that discussion here — because it is all too easy to lapse into the complacency of “good enough” from “better than x” (which would be unacceptable to me). Whereas my point is pecisely that “better than x” should be a starting point to go further, to try and achieve better outcomes.

    Re: “I believe there is a, perhaps unstated, but still explicit and palpable privileging of the national over other identities/affiliations that goes on in India.”

    Of course there is. Because that is true in ALL nation-states, bar none. This becomes more of an issue with multi-ethnic/diverse states, but is really a condition of all nation-states, which is precisely why the (in)ability of the nation-states to accomodate communitarian difference is such a defining feature of our times (and precisely why we need to re-think the frame rather than mechanically saying everyone can do what has been done to disastrous effect before; as an aside, even if you disagree with me on the role of religion in the Kashmir movement, at most the movement promises no more than what Nehru did (or, for that matter, what Jinnah did in his speech to the Pakistan constituent assembly on the eve of partition): a fair deal for every community. But the nation-state is that which does not give COMPLETELY fair deals to all comers). And these aren’t just mental gymnastics, there is a practical issue here: for (obviously) people don’t (shouldn’t) have the luxury of saying “hey let’s just stick with the status quo, it’s what we know”; at a minimum we have to think about how we can mitigate. One way might be to re-imagine states as having “softer” borders (for instance, an old piece by (I think) Selig Harrison from the 1960s or 1970s mentioned how Nehru had begun to feel that Kashmir and East Pakistan/Bangladesh might be best resolved jointly, as part of a “double-soft” border between the two Kashmirs and the two Bengals, etc.). A second (not mutually exclusive from the first) is to try and reduce the disabilities associated with being from the “wrong” group. Both require some commitment to de-centralization and to progressive politics — but the mere advocacy of an “underdog position” does not in itself make a position progressive IMO. As I see it, advocacy of “hard” azaadi for Kashmir is not a more progressive position than the sorts of options discussed above, and I can’t help feeling that many Indian progressives advocate it out of reflex because it is the option the Indian state is most opposed to (but just because Pakistan’s state wants something, or Indian state does/does not want it, does not make it desirable or undesirable). I am NOT suggesting that is what motivates you or anyone else on this thread, I am making a general point based on my (admittedly anecdotal) experience with people of that description. Canada is not the worst example of the second position: it too is a nation-state, but unquestionably a “softer” one than (e.g.) the US as far as communitarian cultural rights are concerned; even beyond the Anglo-French issue, immigrants tend to report far weaker assimilatory pressures than (e.g.) in the US, where I can personally attest to the fact that even children who are brought up speaking their parents’ language, often refuse to speak it once they start going to school and becoming socialized that way — and I have seen this even in the most liberal schools where no-one is making fun of them, bullying them, etc. (Strangely enough, one sees “South Indians” in Bombay who might be mercilessly mocked at school; or Bengalis in delhi or wherever, and who nevertheless aren’t self-conscious enough to abandon their language etc.) The point isn’t that India has some magic pill, but that sometimes assimilatory pressures can operate in subtle and unexpected ways: on the surface, the US and Canada seem very similar, but one of those might be a far better example for multi-(group) identity polities like India. Conversely, staying with my second option, polities like France (which essentially wiped out minority languages over the course of the 19th century in the interests of the “national project”; where are Provencal and Breton today) are not good examples for countries like India, and quite frankly both India and post-1971 Pakistan have done better on the linguistic front than a France has done (but pre-1971, the experience of the Bengalis tells a different tale, culminating in bloodshed of almost unimaginable proportions); unfortunately, staying with sub-continental examples, it seems that a Sri Lanka, so far ahead of its neighbors on many social indicators, on the linguistic issue seems to be taking its cues from a Turkey or a France rather than from India or whoever… Once again, the point is not to feel smug if one is/is not “from” some country (I feel like laughing when I come across people who feel smug about being part of a state that is more progressive/morally superior to another: because smugness cannot co-exist with morality, smugness is itself unethical; stated differently, progressive politics is a slender reed, and cannot bear the weight of complacency and smugness), but to think about practical ways to end the suffering in Kashmir.*

    Re: “I am not going to elaborate here on my views on why I do not believe the Pakistani state is so very different from the Indian one.”

    I agree with you, but not because of India/Pakistan, but because nation-states are, above all else, alike in the fact that they are nation-states. And these two share the steel frame of the Raj that remains their outline in so many ways. I submit that were there to be the sort of “azaadi” for Kashmir that some demand, you could add “Kashmiri state” to your formulation above without much change.

    *[On that note, no “solution” between GoI and the various Kashmiri groups is going to be longlasting if Pakistan isn’t a part of it. I am not saying anything new/controversial, and in fact this is accepted by all three “sides” (assuming only three for ease of discussion), i.e. GoI, the Kashmiri groups, and Pakistan. But this creates a certain practical problem unrelated from all that we have been discussing here, arising from the fact that the Pakistani civilian governments typically don’t have the power/political capital to make concessions on the issue, and the military — which does have the requisite power — might have little incentive to do so. First, as progressives in Pakistan have long suspected, the bogeyman of India/Kashmir enables the military to corner a much larger share of national resources than would otherwise be justifiable if (e.g.) India and Pakistan weren’t fighting over Kashmir (the same “military complex” can exist in other countries — Eisenhower of course invented the term “military-industrial complex” with respect to the Cold War US), but what is striking about the Pakistani military position is the sheer scale — at any given point 15-20% of the budget goes to defense, and that isn’t accounting for the myriad indirect ways in which the military controls national respurces (I highly recommend Ayesha Siddiqa’s “Military Inc.” on the subject). Second, a certain instability is built into the fact that even the military man who strikes a deal does not know if he might not be repudiated by a successor (GoI presumably would have the same concern about striking such a deal). (The counter-example is Egypt: although the peace deal with Israel was signed by a military dictator, his successor regime has adhered to it for three decades now.)

    The hard reality is that GoI and Kashmiri groups cannot solve this problem without Pakistan. Leaving aside all other issues, at least some Kashmiri Muslims presumably prefer Pakistan to “azaadi”; I have no reason to believe that is a majority of Kashmiris, but it might well be a significant number. More importantly, Pakistan has to be part of the solution because 1/3 of the pre-1947 princely state of J&K is under its control. To add to the complication, much of that territory is NOT populated by Kashmiri-speakers, and it is not clear what the views of the inhabitants of Shiite-majority and/or non-Kashmiri areas like Baltistan, Balwaristan, etc. are. Quite frankly, no-one really knows because access to those areas is restricted, difficult, etc. We do know that in recent years in Balwaristan there has been discontent against influx of Punjabis etc. into the region.

    In short, the Arab-Israeli conflict for decades was premised on a fallacy — that the governments of Israel and Jordan/Egypt etc. needed to sort things out — that collapsed with the first intifada, showing that no-one could “speak for” the Palestinians. In fact, it is now universally accepted that to the extent there are peace negotiations, they have to be between israel and the palestinians. Similarly, the Islamabad and New Delhi assumption that Kashmir was an issue the two capitals had to sort out was demolished once the uprising started in 1989 — but the pendulum has not swung so far the other way as with the Israeli-Palestinian issue that we can say that one or another capital/government is irrelevant. Thus, even though in some ways a resolution of the kashmir issue is easier than that of the Palestinian issue (for one thing, at least in Indian J&K, one does not have to contend with land grabs; attempts to change demography wholesale, as we see in Jerusalem, Tibet, and as some in India wanted done in the North-East (especially in Arunachal Pradesh; mercifully Nehru put his foot down)), in terms of “moving parts” it is more difficult. i.e. SUBSTANTIVELY I feel the solution might be easier, but PROCESS-wise/procedurally it is fiendishly difficult.]

    Sorry for rambling, and as always, thanks for listening.


  66. @Mridu
    “I am not going to elaborate here on my views on why I do not believe the Pakistani state is so very different from the Indian one.”

    I would actually like to see how one can be so blind as to not see the difference. On this point, I think even most Pakistanis (not to speak of the rest of the world) will agree that the Pakistani state has grown to be a completely different state from the Indian one (in the sense that you are talking about). Only the most rabid Pakistani nationalists will have the same thinking as yours on this issue.


  67. “So the two propositions you put forward are evidently irreconcilable and they cannot but be that.”

    I was putting forward those propositions to illustrate the contextual or utilitarian nature, of justice. I am not arguing for them.


  68. Dear Qalandar, Suresh, Rahul and Raman,

    Thanks for those interesting comments. Since at least two of the more recent ones are directed at me, I thought I should apologize for not responding. I only just logged on to the internet today. I am currently traveling and would like very much to address the interesting and challenging question you have raised, Suresh, once I am back and have more ready access to the internet.

    Raman, similarly, I would be glad to clarify my position but as you will appreciate, it requires a measured response not the shrill statements you still seem to favour. I’d like to take this opportunity to voice my bewilderment at your preferred style of engagment. I don’t understand why you can’t simply raise objections or questions without this compulsion to characterize other peoples’ positions or views. I recognize that this is a sensitive issue–and it must be so much more so for so many Kashmiris, Hindu and Muslim–but your way of engaging is so counter-intuitive to what I would have expected from anyone wanting a productive conversation or debate. Why not begin by giving your interlocutor the benefit of the doubt and start with the assumption that they might seriously wish to hear your views, present their own and perhaps think along fresh lines. I have certainly made every effort to engage with you on those grounds. But you seem to prefer to gnash your teeth, grow privately furious and lash out in emotional outbursts. Don’t you find it exhausting or even a bit of a bore? Oh, and as in your comments on the other post, you jump to conclusions about my views, in this case what I argue in my book without having even read it, and then grow almost manignantly suspicious of my intents and motives. I like the suggestions in the lastest round from you of my deliberately playing blind and in this perhaps exceeding even the most rabid of Pakistani nationalists. Nice.

    In any case, if you could hold off for a bit I would like to elaborate on my views once I am back to the internet. You might choose to see this as a brief but worthwhile wait as I can perhaps give you something more substantial on which, if you are determined to continue to do so, you can feed your fury and lash out again. But it would be so much more useful if you could not act as though I am in a dock and you on a mad drive to prosecute. Given your past comments I am sadly not optimistic about such a reprieve.

    Rahul, my apologies because I seem to have misunderstood your comment. But I’d like very much to hear from you how utilitarian principles would help navigate through these two essentially irreconcilable positions. I wonder if you are proposing some test of numbers and the greatest utility gauged along those lines. Perhaps not.

    Qalandar, thanks for that interesting response and for providing more food for thought. But I think I’ll have to rest content with disagreement for the moment and perhaps find a place other than this thread to talk some more. Perhpas you have posted some other pieces elsewhere. Commenting here is probably taking the conversation too far from the original post.

    All best wishes,


  69. I am probably very late to this party but I happened to casually surf on here and felt strongly enough to contribute. I quite frankly don’t agree with the pro-‘separatist’, if you will, tone of the article. Let me make it clear I do not condone the atrocities committed by the security forces. There has to be a middle ground, full fledged independence is not the answer.

    Also Shivam, if the idea of your blog is to have dialogue, belittling or strongly objecting/”exposing” people who comment is only going to make people turn more hostile. Please be more mature about it and take criticism of your view in your stride. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and in matters that are as complex and multi-faceted such as this, there is no right or wrong.
    It is wrong to kill/rape/maim your own people, I understand that. But, is it wrong to protect your country and its sovereignty/way of life? I felt I must make that clear lest there be a retaliatory response asking me if killing is right. The Indian bureaucracy fails to realize that they are making the problem worse and in fact are helping to legitimize the struggle.

    The Princely state of Kashmir and Jammu joined the Indian Union in 1948. As an integral part of the Indian republic it is the duty of the government to protect the territory. What if tomorrow the people request there be independent states of Telengana or Maharastra ? Do you allow that to happen? India is a very unique case with a multitude of languages, religions and ethnicity. What if everyone were to request their own state, must it be granted? Technically the Telugu speaking populace are confined to a geography are and have the minerals and resources to function as an independent state. More often than not, such ideologies are injected into the minds of the common folk by a coterie of individuals who are often wealthy and/or powerful, in order to someday be able to be the ruler of their own dominion and get richer and more powerful.

    From the standpoint of the people of the state, even though they have been brain washed into the notion that independence from India is for their good, that fact is far from it. It is in the benefit of the people there to experience the growth and freedom that rest of the country experiences. There is still a lot of area for improvement but it is the best alternative to joining the failed Pakistani state or Independence from India.

    Also the notion that the Hindu majority commits atrocities is incorrect. We are in a different time and place than we were in 1947, for that matter even 1990. There are Muslims everywhere in India. India has had a Muslim president. We have a large number of acclaimed and very successful Indian Muslim artists and actors. We have Muslim captains of industry. A Muslim man/woman in India enjoys plenty of freedom and great economic opportunities. I know a few of my Indian Muslim friend’s parents who are very supportive of Pakistan and Kashmiri independence. When asked by their own patriotic children why they don’t consider moving to Pakistan or Kashmir to support, they remain mum or question the audacity of posing such a question to an elder.

    Communal riots are the creation of communal elements within both Muslim and Hindu communities and it is horrible when it happens and I do not support this either. But I am sure everyone realizes that over the years people are getting more and more inclusive and open-minded in India than ever before as more and more people get educated and communicate with each other through dialogue. All societies go through this transformation. The US had segregation even in the 60s, we have a black president now. Give it time goddamn it. Learn to be better citizens and more liberal minded instead, contribute instead of spewing rhetoric.

    Yes, it has been proven time and time again, most recently by Pakistan’s biggest ally that Pakistani state agents are involved in destabilizing the Indian state and territories. It is painful to see Pakistani people suffering through floods and earthquake while billions in aid money is being squandered in furthering war and petty politics and into the hands of the same oligarchic separatists clamoring for freedom.

    India is not perfect and you cannot make a perfect state free of corruption, nepotism and myriad of other issues over night. But do you want to start at the finish line or do you want to hop onto the shoulder of the fastest and win together?


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