Eleven things India must do in Kashmir: Justin Podur

Indian Army soldiers at an encounter site with militants in Kashmir on Friday. AP photo

Guest post by JUSTIN PODUR: I spent a week in Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, at the end of April 2013, talking to people among whom there was a wide range of opinion. While almost everyone supports freedom, some are resigned to India never letting Kashmir go, others believe that the struggle will go on and take different forms, some are just trying to survive. It seemed to me, at the end of a calm week during tourist season, that India is bringing about all of the things that it fears: Pakistani influence, violence,  radicalisation of youth, political Islam, and hatred of India.

The Kashmir conflict has been going on for decades. When India and Pakistan became independent in 1947, both new states wanted Kashmir. The ruler of Kashmir acceded to India. India and Pakistan fought their first war over the state that year, establishing a partition of the territory into an area controlled by Pakistan and an area controlled by India. The part controlled by India includes Jammu, Ladakh, and the Kashmir valley. When Kashmir acceded to India, the Indian Constitution made a special provision to allow for Kashmir to have certain national rights, and to allow for the future of Kashmir (in India or Pakistan) to be settled by a plebiscite. The plebiscite never happened. The special autonomy provisions in the constitution have not been honoured. Today, Kashmiris have fewer rights than the rest of the Indian union and they get less respect for the rights that they do have. An insurgency in the 1990’s was brutally suppressed by the Indian army, with thousands killed, tortured, and disappeared. In 2010, a series of popular protests in the valley were also suppressed. Most recently, the government shut all communications down and imposed curfew for several days after the political hanging of Afzal Guru in February 2013. It has taken many different forms, but the conflict between the aspirations of Kashmiris and the Indian state has remained.

When a conflict seems intractable, it is because someone is benefiting from it. Those who propose solutions to the conflict are therefore inevitably proposing to take some benefit away from someone – in this case, from those who are benefiting from it and who have the power to end it. Any proposed solution can then be dismissed as infeasible. In the case of Kashmir, this has been the most reliable way to keep the conflict going. Propose greater autonomy within India? Infeasible, India says, because the rest of India won’t tolerate it. Propose independence? Infeasible, India says, because India would never allow it. Propose demilitarising the area somewhat? Infeasible, India has security concerns.

Then, having dismissed any of the obvious solutions, we can throw up our hands in frustration and ask: But what do the Kashmiris really want?

Although the parallel has been over-used, and there are a dozen ways to break the analogy, there is an instructive comparison to Israel/Palestine. For many years, advocates for Palestine were divided into one-state and two-state advocates. The one-state advocates, who argued that Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza should all be a single state with equality for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, were accused of utopian dreaming, since Israel would never be willing to sacrifice its Jewish character and become a democratic state for all its citizens. The two-state advocates, who believed they were advocating a world consensus, had to watch Israel continue to grab more territory and tighten the noose that was suffocating Palestinian life. Every few years, Israel would massacre some Palestinians. Israel and its backers would throw up their hands and say: but what do Palestinians really want? One state, two states, an Islamic state?

In the Palestinian context, this intellectual impasse was broken by the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Inspired by the struggle against South African apartheid, one of the BDS movement’s greatest contributions was not in its selection of BDS tactics. Instead, it was the advocacy of a rights-based program, instead of a solutions-based program. The argument was simple. If Palestinians have the same rights as everybody else – freedom from military occupation, equal rights to live, work, study and travel, the right to return to homes from which they have been displaced – then any solution that accommodates these rights is acceptable. Conversely, any proposed solution has to respect the rights of the people, or it is a false solution.

What if the Kashmir conflict were re-framed in the same way? What if we thought about Kashmir in a rights-based, as opposed to a solutions-based, framework? It seems to me that if India wanted to respect the rights of Kashmiris, it would have to stop doing several things immediately. Whether India thinks that territorial control is paramount (and therefore wants to keep Kashmir in the union at all costs) or decides that the democratic principle is more important (and therefore wants to give Kashmiris the space to decide for themselves) there can be no progress without respecting the rights of Kashmiris.

I am not going to suggest things that many states are incapable of doing anywhere, like ending corruption or following its own laws consistently. I am just going to suggest things that are allowed and routine in other states. So here are eleven things that India should do to protect people’s rights in Kashmir.

11. Stop using soldiers as police. Troops are for borders. If the army deployment is because Kashmir is the border with Pakistan and China, then army troops shouldn’t be seen in Srinagar or other valley towns. They should be at their border posts. Let the state police do the policing, and leave the troops at the border.

10. Stop messing with Kashmir’s communications. The refrain that ‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’ is constantly heard. But Kashmir is not an integral part of India’s communications network. I have traveled all over India, and paid fairly low roaming fees with my Delhi-based SIM card. When I didn’t want to pay them, I got myself a local SIM card by giving my passport, visa, and a photo ID (all of which seemed excessive to me). But prepaid SIMs from outside Kashmir simply don’t work in Kashmir. And you can’t just get a SIM card the way you can elsewhere. And you can’t send SMS messages within Kashmir, much less out of Kashmir. And of course, when the Indian state does something that they know will horrify Kashmiris, like executing Afzal Guru in secret after denying him legal rights and admitting that he’s being hanged not because of evidence against him but because ‘the conscience of the nation’ demands it, the Indian state also shuts all communications down inside Kashmir.

Kashmiris have taken to Facebook and other social media to communicate, but they feel that they can be hunted down if they write things the state doesn’t like.

9. Stop suppressing student politics. One complaint I heard many times was that the Kashmir University Student Union (KUSU) was banned, while the campus Congress Party was allowed to organise. I asked a University administrator why student politics were not allowed. He told me that it was because students were vulnerable to being used by off-campus elements, and that student politics would be extremely disruptive on campus. Until the situation calms down, he said, they could not allow campus politics. And anyway, he added, there was no tradition of campus politics, unlike say, in Delhi.

I disagree. Administrations always have adversarial relationships with student movements, and if student politics were allowed, there would no doubt be times when the administration suspended students or gave academic punishments for disrupting classes, etc. – but there are ways of dealing with all of this, of negotiating it, that every other campus knows.

8. Stop banning and deporting people. Allow free movement. Arundhati Roy wrote about this in 2011. When I told people I was going to Kashmir, I was told, “Hope they don’t ban you from India like they did with David Barsamian”. A US-based activist and radio personality, Barsamian has a long connection with India and comes very often, interviewing people and doing journalism on a wide variety of topics. He was deported in 2011, supposedly for doing professional activities on a tourist visa. Richard Shapiro (see this piece where he makes the argument for demilitarisation), an American professor, was deported from Kashmir in 2010, with the same pretext. These pretexts are flimsy. There are probably millions of visitors who come on tourist visas and write things about India. I doubt anyone has been deported for writing about saris, handicrafts, or even for complaining about pollution or noise. But write about Kashmir, and suddenly you are in violation of your visa. In any case, leaving Barsamian and Shapiro aside, what visa terms do Indian citizens violate? When Gautam Navlakha, an Indian citizen, tried to enter Kashmir in 2011, he was stopped at the airport and put on the next plane back to Delhi. Effectively, he was deported, something that should not be possible from one ‘integral part of India’ to another.

7. Let Kashmir control its water resources. The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) controls the water and sells it back to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The J&K government wants several power projects returned to it, and accuses NHPC of retaining these projects illegally. In these joint ventures, the NHPC gets the power, which it then distributes according to its own logic, which includes selling some of the power back to the state. From the NHPC perspective, this is efficient allocation of resources. From Kashmir’s perspective, it is internal colonialism, and given the physical geography of the state, leaves people freezing in the dark when they have ample hydroelectric capacity. Let Kashmir control its own water resources and sell to the centre, as other states have negotiated.

6. Regulate the yatras. The Amarnath yatra brings Hindus from different parts of India to Kashmir to worship. The yatra has grown immensely over the years and, like many other religious festivals, has become politicized. In the context of Kashmir, it has also become militarized. The yatra is controlled by a board that is ultimately controlled by India. Even though the board was constituted in 2000 by the governor of J & K, the composition of the board is heavily weighted towards the Centre, effectively disenfranchising the locals in an event with an increasingly high impact. The growing size of the yatras has become a grievance. Why generate the perception that India is trying to change the demographics of Kashmir? If other yatras can be regulated on ecological grounds, why can’t the Amarnath yatra? Why can’t the board be controlled from within the state?

5. Punish crimes, not people. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) means that (as activist Vrinda Grover has argued instead of being held to a higher standard, representatives of the state have more privilege than others. This has to be repealed. Crimes are crimes, whether they are committed by security forces or citizens. Instead of punishing crimes, the government punishes people. Soldiers are immune from prosecution even for torture, murder or rape. Kashmiris who aren’t committing crimes, whether they are shouting slogans, attending demonstrations, or just are in the wrong place at the wrong time, can be punished. If the Indian state doesn’t know what a crime is, why would anyone want to be a part of it?

4. Count the dead. Hundreds of unidentified and mass graves have been uncovered throughout the state in the past few years. Families whose children have been disappeared want to know if these mass graves contain their children. But instead of testing all of the bodies and identifying them, India has demanded that the families submit to DNA tests. What should have been the Indian state apologizing and trying to make repair for ghastly violations has thus turned into a further ghastly violation, a further intelligence gathering exercise. India should do the DNA tests on the mass grave and provide the information. The denial of what everyone knows is true is insanity-inducing. Nothing good can come of it.

3. Make amnesty meaningful. India wants former militants to surrender, but surrendered militants’ lives become surreal and horrifying. Afzal Guru’s ordeal since he surrendered is perhaps the most dramatic example, but there are many others. In order to demonstrate progress in counterinsurgency, India’s military forces have used surrendered militants as ‘false positives’: men are killed and arranged to look like they were insurgents killed in encounters. Their lives are expendable, their corpses a resource. This must stop.

2. Increase connectivity. Allow people to travel. India is supposedly worried about ‘cross-border terrorism’. The phrase has two parts. The ‘cross-border’ part is not a crime in itself. Anything you can do that is a crime on one side of the border is also a crime on the other side. It is the crime that is the problem, not the border-crossing. The same goes for terrorism. The entire framework of anti-terror legislation that was enacted around the world after 9/11 was basically unnecessary. The crimes that terrorists commit – mainly murder – were defined as crimes in the law before the anti-terror laws were passed. Terrorists can be punished for crimes, and efforts to prevent violent crimes can take place, while trying to minimize disruption of people’s freedom of movement. Instead, India’s approach is to besiege the population and deny them freedom of movement unless they can prove that they are not criminals.

1. Allow separatism. One of Canada’s major provinces, Quebec, has a different official language (French) from the rest (English) and the majority of its French-speaking inhabitants want independence. It has a provincial party, the Parti Quebecois, that is devoted to independence, and a federal level party, the Bloc Quebecois, that, while seeking independence, also seeks to press Quebec’s interests at the federal level. Demographically and in terms of voting blocs, Quebec is much larger relative to Canada than Kashmir is relative to India (Quebec and J&K have about the same population, but the whole of Canada, with about 30 million people, has the population of one of India’s smaller states). But the point is that in the past few decades the Canadian state has not taken an iron fist approach to separatism, and the Canadian state has not collapsed.

Indeed, during one of the Quebec referenda (Quebec has had 3 of the plebiscites that have been denied Kashmir), a very intelligent urban thinker, Jane Jacobs, pointed out that Norway had peacefully separated from Sweden through a referendum in 1905, and the world didn’t end. Obsessed with Pakistan, the Indian establishment is looking in the wrong direction for examples. Kashmir doesn’t have to be Bangladesh. It could just as easily be Norway or Quebec.

(Justin Podur is a Toronto-based writer and professor at York University, and was recently a visiting professor at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi. His blog is www.killingtrain.com and twitter is twitter.com/justinpodur)

Previously by Justin Podur in Kafila:

56 thoughts on “Eleven things India must do in Kashmir: Justin Podur”

  1. His entire article does not talk about the situation in Jammu or Ladakh! That is the single biggest problem with this article. We all know what people in Srinagar want, but how they would co-exist with Jammu and Ladakh is something unexplored.

    And trust me, before it goes into the familiar territory, people who disagree with Kashmir centric view are not communal or supporters of RSS.


    1. @Alok Does he talk about London, Paris and Hongkong? Why on earth should he be talking about places that have remained far stable and least affected by the conflict? He is probably not making any conclusions out of his analysis. All he has written is about an analysis of the situation right from where it started (unlike you all who dont want to accept the historty) and given some suggestions that the Indian state would never be able to act on. So, dont worry friend, Kashmir is still with India and you can every year be welcomed for Amarnath Yatra, even if you hate Kashmiris or the cause Kashmiris have been fighting for!! God Bless!!!


      1. what about the minorities of Kashmir…not a single word on minorities of kashmir, if situation is too bad as he says why don’t people in kargil raise voice against Indian state.Why people in Kashmir are only against the Indian state not rest of the j&K including other minorities of ladakh. Seems he is bent on disgracing Indian state with obvious reasons known to him.


    2. It is addressed to the alienating measures India is taking in Kashmir. Nowhere it professes and advocates Freedom. Had muzzling and gaging in Ladakh and Jammu occurring, would have him mentioned. The problem is that if someone says something you people see it though one medium i.e. Aazadi. It is about imbuing people of Kashmir and how. Read carefully. No Aazadi advocacy here that you are being bothered for coexistence of people. By the way we were exemplified for secularism in whole India before 90s until Pakistan sneaked.


      1. Are you willing to share freedom with minorities ….Freedom or so called Azadi has no copy right.
        Look within to find reasons for so called alienation, Alienation cannot be specific to Kashmir only as Kashmir comes in J&K State…… so called measures are also are not specific to Kashmir only.Are you willing to give freedom to minorities of Kashmir as majority cannot transgress the rights of minorities.


  2. An enriching discourse of Kashmir problem. Although this all will fall flat on the patriotism haunted souls of India, who knows they might turn humane one day! Your disclosure about Kashmir- disturbance is serving each political establishment in India is, worth a million praise. NHPC’s divulgence has became like a pre-election promise; everybody knows nobody delivers. Nobody listens, no one cares, nobody bothers. A status of Kashmiri in todays India is that, his unjustified execution facilitates their ministership and brings them a patriotic name, makes their cultural attachment of homeland vivid and dear.


  3. Dear alok. It is real good to see your interest in kashmir.I am sure you like kashmir, I just want to inform you that, we don’t have to explore a bit now cause, when indian government shows the interest towards kashmir it itsels talks about the resorces we have, indian government was never in our favour cause of the fact they never stopped killing of inocents in kashmir, aLl I know is they brought most of the armed force inside the kashmir. To build a nation u need to earn respect and trust of that particular nation, as far as the gilgit and balistan they R neve in conflict,, if u have any other question feel free to wrote on my mail.god bless india cause u need blessing, and we nEed freedom.


  4. Good suggestions. But I wish the occupation and its advocates had hearts!

    They just might turn over Kashmir from the armed forces to the local police… but only after turning the police into something as vicious as the army.

    Secondly, the trouble for the state is that if it lets people express themselves after what they have been subject to over the last 23 years, what it will get to hear is most likely to shatter its self image and the states as you now have fragile egos.


  5. kashmir nva has been a part of ny country,it is an internatioNaly recognisd dispute,we urge UN to frame a simple RIGHT TO SELF DETERMINATION for the ppl of kashmir so da dy dmslvz cn elect dr future,
    india nt nly has been killing d ppl of kashmir bt exploiting ou resources like deforestation,occupyin thounsands of hectares of land,
    go india go bck leave ou kashmir


  6. thank you Justin for making indian citizens know the poignant plight of kashmir. tradition of colonialism has vanished but still a colony exists and that is kashmir


  7. As Aijaz Mir rightly points out, the article is not about freeing Kashmir. It more about what The State of India can do to reduce the huge chasm between it’s words and deeds when it comes to Kashmir.

    That said, The rhetoric Ladakh and Jammu is the most irritating thing The State of India, Indian media, and right wing organization keep repeating.

    Uderstand that Jammu means two things in J & K. Jammu is a division with 10 districts in it and Jammu is also a district within the Jammu division. Now I a know that Jammu does not want Azadi. But that is Jammu district not the whole Jammu division.

    Same is the case with Ladakh. It comprises on 2 districts Leh and Kargil. Around 2/3 of population of Leh district does not want Azadi.

    Now let me remind you of India’s claim of being the largest democracy in the world. How does it work. 12 million people cannot be held hostage because people in 4 districts want something else.


  8. Kashmiri should also ponder why army is on the street of Kashmir Maybe Indian State is dealing with the heavy hand but at the same time kashmiri people should also realize that they welcomed Islamic jehadis in early 1990s with promise that kashmir will be liberated in matter or weeks as Indian are no match for battle hardened mujahaideens .Now that promise has been distance mirage and movement leader are trying to give it non violent tag after the military strategy have failed
    In my opinion that nation state make or break constantly in due course of time i.e maps and boundaries but what is important is that basic nature/culture of region should not be destroyed . In case of Kashmir in the name of getting azadi from india it is embracing miltant islam with vengeance which will undermine its stability for centuries to come , even if they are out of indian union .


  9. The writer attains immortal silence on the issue of Kashmiri Hindus, once again no points suggested for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus(dont say that geelani has welcomed them back), in India if convicted terrorist like Yasin Malik can become gandhiwadi agent after spending 10 years in jail a man(geelani) who through speakers announced hindus to leave kashmir but to leave behind their women(cheap mentality of islam) , his words cannot be trusted. And also dont show me second class footages of kashmiri muslims asking their hindu bretherens to come back because JUST AS PSEUDO SECULARISTS DONT BELIEVE IN SADBHAVANA FAST OF MODI I DONT BELIEVE IN MUSLIMS OR THEIR COMMITMENTS.


  10. If Kashmiris wanted Right of Self Determination, Question is WHY ?
    If Kashmiris wanted Right of Self Determination, Why They asked HINDUS to leave ?
    Problem is not Kashmir , Problem is MUSLIMS are intolerant because in ISLAM, No Goodness is applicable for a ‘Kafir’ non Believers

    India Has almost 20% Muslim Population, They will ask “20 Kashmirs” as Well, If 1 Kashmir is Granted.

    What About ‘POK’ ; Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.Why Everybody is Happy There ?Because Muslims Love Muslims.Period.


    1. People like you simply prove the point that Justin Podur is trying to make. There was no reference in his article to wanting self determination or anything else. The question is simple – can this cuontry allow Kashmiris to live normal lives? If not – and that is clearly the answer at present – then some serious questions need to be asked about the Indian state.


      1. The answer to most of Mr Podurs questions are fairly simple.

        A state must ensure a monopoly on use of violence. This monopoly was posed a grave challenge in 1989, when Pakistan armed Kashmiris and its own citizens, and infiltrated them into the valley to inflict violence not just on the government machinery but on anyone who in the minds of the Jehadis did not agree with them. The infiltrated Jehadis were heavily armed with the detritus weapons of the Afghan war. The local or even central police forces had no capability to contain them. This was the reason why first the BSF and then the Army was deployed in the role of counter insurgency in Kashmir. These are commonly known facts.

        AFSPA is needed because usually the Army is deployed when there is a complete break down in the law and order machinery of the state. There was at least one mutiny by the J&K police in Sri Nagar, and lots of cases when the lawyers association (J&K Bar association?) refused to take up the cases of those that it thought had sinned against Islam. In such a situation, one can hardly expect the local police to conduct impartial investigations and prosecutions of Army men accused of some crime.

        India is a poor state with poor policing and law enforcement. It is very difficult to secure convictions even in the country’s capital, let alone the distant Kashmir valley. The default response of the state in such situations is extra judicial killings. These are heinous when viewed in isolation, but without removal of these malcontents from the political and social situation, there can be no chance at peace or any of the benefits that grow out of a peaceful political situation.

        Kafila is committed to a certain ideology, but I do not understand why they dont bring up their issues in a way that most people in the country can relate to. In a recent year, the number of extra judicial killings in UP exceeded those in Kashmir, almost by an order of magnitude. The number was flashed as an accomplishment by one of the major political parties in UP, yet Kafila types do not connect the issue to the high handed behavior of the police towards the common man/woman, and what is picked up is the behavior of the state in some extreme situation that the common man/woman cant relate to. You can talk about ‘atrocities’ in Kashmir till the year 2100, it wont change anything till you can change the minds of the people in the rest of the India.


  11. An excellent article. Modern India doesn’t compare to the western developed countries in many aspects, but she prides herself on many things that are unfamiliar to them and derive from her immense history, such as (loosely-speaking) a millenia-long tradition of non-invasion. Which is why it breaks the heart all the more to read of such a thing in one’s own land and among one’s own people. The more you learn–of the activities of the Indian state in Kashmir and in tribal areas, to name the most prominent–the more painful it is, and the more gnawing at your sense of pride in your land.

    As an aside, articles like this make one keep returning to Kafila, in spite of the editors’ unfortunate tendency to censor differing views.


  12. I have no issues with self-determination. But what I have issues with is a place wanting to define its identity along the lines of religion, ethnicity and/or race, to the violent exclusion of other people. And Kashmir made “independent” tomorrow will complete what it started with Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs and other groups in Kashmir. If that happens we will see a bloodbath across this subcontinent of a scale that we didn’t even in 1947! When I mentioned this to one Indian journalist who had written something similar to what’s written here, she said, “Maybe but I still support the Kashmiri stand on independence.” Then I thought — maybe for people like this, I’m including Arundhati Roy too, it’s easy to say. It is harder for people like me in India who have lived in the shadow on 1947. My father grew up in Lahore and his father didn’t want to leave. They had to flee overnight and I have no idea what my father, who was 10 years then witnessed. He never talked about it. He just repeated one sentence his whole life “we fled with the clothes on our back.” When my father died 6 years ago, the last month he incessantly talked about Lahore. He would say “Hum Lahore ke hain!”


    1. So, u prescribe to the notion that there is a potential threat of kashmir turning into a as they say taliban territory, so it is better to curb them and kill them like insects? Dont u understand simple english? Where has author talked of freedom? he has simply asked india to respect human rights and let kashmiris live the way u are living, do u have a problem with that miss? The problem with u pseudo patriots is that u cant stand anything against ur nation, it aint patriotism, it is rather a disease that kills the human inside you, get well soon miss.


    2. Hello RIta, I hear you and empathize completely with your father’s suffering. The victims of partition have till today suffered in silence or in trauma on both sides. I had a chance to visit Lahore last year and our host’s father there kept saying he is from Bhopal. His wife said – you live here in Lahore for 65 years, you are from here now – but he kept repeating that he feels he belongs to Bhopal. He also told of stories how at the time of partition Hindus saved him and countless other Muslims and helped him escape. I have heard that similarly many thousands of hindus were protected by muslims in Pakistan side. Do consider joining the discussion at aman ki asha – I am not affiliated with it but it seems to be a good place to find some solace.


  13. We should have a plebiscite in the rest of the country as well about whether India should be a secular country or a Hindu country. Somehow this dubious secularism has been foisted on us. Perhaps South India might want to secede too. Punjab had its chance and missed it, but no matter, perhaps it is time for Khalistan again.

    In any case, what are these alleged rights that Kashmiris are denied that the rest of the country enjoy?


    1. Are you made to live under heavy military presence? Are your doors broken open at midnight in the pretext of search operations? Are U made to sit in sun whole day without access to food and water on the pretext of crackdowns? Are u imprisoned inside ur home for weeks at stretch on the pretext of curfews? Are u hurled abuses, beaten to pulp if u dont stop ur car while an army vehicle is plying on the road? Do ur mother and sister fear molestation and rape whenever army launches search operations? (indian army has raped more than 10000 women in past 2 decades, every heard of Kunanposhpora?) Does anyone kill ur father/brother/son and then say we are “sorry”? Are you made to step out of a vehicle, made to show ur identity card and made to walk for a mile on the pretext of security? Is ur communication barred whenever indian pm/hm is on visit to ur place? has ever an indefinite been ban imposed on sms services in ur area? Are cable, internet, telephone, mobile, and even newspaper services snapped in ur india on the pretext of security? Has anyone from ur family ever been detained by army for no reasons and then disappeared? if NO is an answer to most of these questions, then u need to put ur head down in shame, or else if u happen to be a nationalist u can try to “justify” everything, choice is urs..!


  14. Lot of worry about a yatra, that is temporary gathering of Hindus altering the demography of Muslim majority Kashmir, well, what about the demographic change brought by the terrorists when Hindus driven out of Kashmir? Wouldn’t that count for demographic change? And how about India still having Article 370 which restricts people outside of state to buy property or settle that in Kashmir? Would that count for not changing the demography?

    Second when this entire things started, is that before Hindus driven out or after that? Well, everyone knows that it was after the gruesome killing of Hindus and raping of Hindu women, these things were started right?

    How about rights of minority Hindus and Buddhists in Jammu and Ladkh? If it didn’t matter that these 4 districts can’t matter for 12 million people then Why 12 million people matter in the country of 1 Billion people?

    India can easily implement that Israel style settlement then have the plebiscite right? Because India still not doing that, people this writer can give these idiotic suggestions.


  15. @Madhur, Cannor and Karan Shah…. Well it never surprises me when Kashmiri Hindu picture is delibrately brought in to justify the killings of lakhs of Kashmiris. Can a mass exodus justify mass killing? All I can do is just laugh, after reading the lame excuses made to justify the killings in Kashmir. You know it is like, I ask you the reason why you killed my brother and your reply is like, “Why did your grandfather steel the eggs laid by the hen in my courtyard” You never want to talk in context with what is being discussed when it comes to killings in Kashmir.


    1. Nadeem – Kashmir is complex issue , i can understand the daily hardship faced by Kashmiris due to overbearing security apparatus and also attempt by few to make it Hindu vs Muslim issue

      But at the same time Kashmiris should also ponder over who invited guns into valley when they went into the frenzy of implementing nizam-a-mustafa in kashmir tearing its secular fabric and making it a battlefield .Now the Nizam-a-Mustafa dream is broken , human rights bogey is blown out of proportion to malign the Indian state . Yes there have been incidents of human rights violation but at the same time common kashmiri have also been murdered by militants and many times terrorist have deliberately attacked security forces in crowded place in order to increase the collateral damage in cross fire .

      Yes , we also laugh when India is compared with Nazi germany or taunted as ‘largest democracy denying the rights of humble and peace loving kashmiri’ not realizing that path they are taking will make democracy alien concept even if their wishes are granted


  16. I am well aware of India and Kashmir’s history, and also of the so called “Kashmir dispute” – which in reality is nothing but a Wahabi ideology derived separatism a.k.a demand of azadi of the valley’s majority community only. It is a communal demand which must be opposed by every secular person.

    Whatever happened during and after the time of accession have happened. Promise are meant to be broken. Let the bygone be bygone. Kashmir was Never an independent country. Also it is an undeniable fact that civilization-ally Kashmir was always a part of “India”. Ok its character changed post the arrival of Sufism – but we have NO problem with it. Muslims and Hindus can coexist. Let we all proud of our 5000 old civilization. There is nothing to fear or hate. There is space for all to prosper. It is not only Kashmir Muslims who love Kashmir, Hindus also have a stake in its destiny. You cannot deny that. You cannot ask them to forget their proud history. Hell will not break lose if the majority community of the valley drops the azadi demand. 25 crore Muslims are also living safely and peacefully in secular India. I earnestly request my Kashmiri Muslim brothers to reconsider their azadi demand. Root of all problems is in that demand.

    As an aside, this author has visited Gulmarg and Ladakh many times. But he has always found pro-azadi sentiments absent from there. Few Muslims there even castigate stone pelting youths of Srinagar by saying “I do not what they are fighting for…” Difficult to believe but it is true.

    On justice, it has a very important place in my world view. So whosoever has committed crimes and human rights violation against innocent Kashmiris must be brought to justice. There should be no exception. AFSPA must go.

    As for fixing the number of devotees for one of the holiest yatra of Hindus in the name of demographic change, which is impossible with the article 370 in place, I think the blog author could have tried a better excuse to pander to the perpetually-living-in-fear-and-victimhood Islamists.

    Will this go through?



  17. perpetual suppression & a methodical persecution at the hands of the illegal occupiers is many a times clouding our minds–thinking that whatever is being handed out to us is probably normal–then a sudden awakening in the form of articles like Justin Podur’s.Delving deep through the article,a common Kashmiri,i guess, is reminded as to what he has been rightfully & democratically struggling for the last six decades–but the so called ‘largest democracy’ of the world makes even Hitler’s autocracy look pale.


  18. Only the Mugals and later on the British turned India into a united country with diverse populations. Over the years much water have flowed through the Jamuna, Indus, etc rivers so the world is now a globalized village. Will Indians be able to adapt to the needs?


  19. 1. The troops are all over Kashmir not merely to police but because of the infiltration of terrorists amongst civilians, terrorists who every now and then facilitate violence in Kashmir and other states. It only makes sense to be on toes and have the troops ready for any such case. We complain that a lot in other parts of India. In Kashmir the army’s presence actually curbs a lot of terrorist activities. Also, Indian Police in any state is not up to mark when it comes to fighting terrorists laced with modern weapons.

    2. About communication , its a precautionary measure. But terrorists have other ways of communicating. No state or country can should stop civilians from basic communication practices.
    I disagree about Afzal Guru, the whole nation demands killing of terrorists but nation never does it because they get away through legal loop holes. Afzal Guru’s hanging was one good thing they did. Besides someone killing hundreds of innocent lives should not have a right to seek legal aid. India has been way to lenient to make you think Guru’s hanging was a mistake.

    3. About Amnesty angle, very weak points made.

    4. You miss a whole lot when you talk about separation. The state is filled with anti-civilians facilitated from across the border and many in disguise. Its definitely not a good idea to let the state handle it till we are sure they can handle it. One cant take a chance with a fragile border-terrorism state. In the long run the central control is necessary but eventually it should wear off.


  20. //I ask you the reason why you killed my brother and your reply is like, “Why did your grandfather steel the eggs laid by the hen in my courtyard” You never want to talk in context with what is being discussed when it comes to killings in Kashmir.//

    Great way to equate one’s killing with killing and another’s killing with stealing eggs. Wow. That should settle the discussion right?

    Kashmiri hindus were forced out of their homes, killed and raped en mass. If that is equivalent of stealing eggs then, fine, from a religious bigot this is an expected behavior.

    How about you people accepting that Hindus,Sikhs, Buddhists have a right to live and preach, propagate their religion in Kashmir?

    When you’re not condemning one killing don’t expect others to condemn another killing. That wont happen.


    1. Rajasankar- That wont settle the discussion my friend and I am in no way trying to equate a killing (be it anyone) with stealing eggs. It was just to say how you guys tend to deviate from the topic when the heinous crimes commited by the security agencies in Kashmir are being discussed. That hurts you, right! Yeah it does because the army that we all kashmiris hate are your idols. Well, killing an innocent is like killing the whole humanity is what my religion teaches me and ofcourse, everyone’s teaches the same lesson. But, when the same crime is commited by the men in uniform (happened countless times in kashmir), everything is covered. Well, you guys have been repeatedly rattling out the same old stories. For a death of say some 1000 (the figures are actually far less than that) kashmiri hindus, you want to turn a blind eye to the killings in Kashmir. For God’s sake, now stop refering to the same two decade old crimes to justify the on going killings in Kashmir. It is not to say that I dont condemn the voilence met by Kashmiri Hindu brothers in early nineties. Whosoever commited those crimes were mere criminals and if they did that in the name of religion, they probably are nothing more than a blot on the religion. But, none should use the previous voilences as a reference to justify the voilence that follows.


  21. Once in a village, two women start fighting over the ownership of an baby. Both furiously argue that the baby belongs to them and they go on to show all kinds of evidences to prove the same. However the conflict remained unresolved. So the villagers take the women and the baby to a saint to seek for a solution. The saint asks one of women to hold the arms of the child and the other to hold its legs. Then he said they will have to pull the baby and the one who wins the tug of war will be given the child. Both women start pulling the baby. Due to the pulling, the baby starts howling and crying in pain. Immediately one the the woman lets go of the baby and the other bursts into celebration. The saint however cuts the celebration and asks the victorious woman to give the baby to the woman who let go. He said that a woman who cannot bear to see the baby crying even for a moment has to be its real mother. Let us strive to be the mother that cares for the baby more than her own interests.

    Unfortunately when I see India’s Kashmir policy, I am left wondering if we really care about Kashmiris. We punish and alienate ordinary Kashmiris everyday for acts committed by a minority. And to add to our naivety, we expect ordinary Kashmiris and Muslims to stand up against organized militancy and religious extremism and we justify our policies as a punishment for their inaction. On top of that, instead of encouraging the army to develop tools to improve the quality of intelligence gathered before conducting raids against militancy, we have passed laws like AFSPA that cause collateral damage. We may have the military strength to keep Kashmir, but we do not possess the moral strength to even provide the basic fundamental rights to an ordinary Kashmiri. As a fellow Indian, I am ashamed of that and I am truly sorry. At this point, our society is far too sensitive to patriotic and religious sentiments and our power hungry politicians ride those sentiments to their benefit. Unless the politics in our country evolves to a point where moral considerations are given priority over strategic and ‘tit for tat’ arguments, we will not be the great nation that we ought to be.


    1. @Mr Nair i really appreciate what you have write , i feel you ,the only one in the panel who supports peace . Black sheep’s are in every community for one person’s crime you can not punish whole the community and then people starts shouts each others on religion that’s bull shit . As a kashmiri i was only 5 years old when this all starts in 1989 from then i have seen only abuses , bloodshed, tortures etc. you can say every human right violation by all mean from all the side what would every Indian expect me to do to see sit around . As a kashmiri what i feel is, this place is on eruption and it will burst very soon . because every ordinary civilian has lost faith from everything whether its any agency . I request you all to pray for peace in every corner.


  22. It is a very well written article and it touches upon many sides of the conflict in meaningful ways. Whenever there is a talk of one group standing for its rights and identity, others usually get threatened- time and again.

    Whatever engagements people have had with Kashmiris have been superficial and patronizing- as if they need ‘our’ protection, ‘our’ presence, ‘our’ guidance to live their lives properly. I even see that in day-to-day interactions sitting in Delhi, about Kashmiri muslims and how they constantly face that ‘other-ness’ identity.

    There is no compassion and it shames me what a mockery we are of democracy, equality, justice. Whose and for who?


  23. I am a layman and wont be able to explain the reason why I think so? Give it another 30 -50 years all the problems the colonial British knowingly or unknowingly created at the time of their departure will be sorted out by the people themselves.


  24. This is a naive solution to the problem. If you read the Diplomat magazine you realize that the problem is more complex than this. Even if India walks away from Kashmir, Pakistan will not. There is a reason for this. First, will it divide into 2 parts, Hindu and Muslim. It shows that this is unlikely. If this happens, there is a problem with minority rights. Second, there is no current economy except for tourism. This will make the country a ward of the community. Third and important, will Pakistan walk away. It will not, as it will trigger internal breakup of its regions which want autonomy from Pakistan. So, one problem becomes another problem.



  25. Most Indians around are coming up with one or the other excuse to rubbish this whole article, how lame..! Either they r too dumb to understand the things the writer has penned down or they r too embarassed to face the truth. He is not asking for freedom, he is simply asking india to act like a democracy and let kashmiris have rights that others enjoy, why does it cause pain to you? I guess if kashmir is substituted with nagaland, ur pain will go immediately, no? U r filled with so much of hatred against kashmiris that it causes u immense pain to hear anything good about kashmiris, and then how talk of secularism bla bla. Some people around have complained as to why writer hasnt mentioned jammu, ladakh., he hasnt mentioned gilgit, baltistan, pok, aksai chin aswell bcz kashmir is were people are being subjected to state violence, some have raised fingers against islam, i just want to request those noobs to educate themselves about the subject matter before making a fool of themselves., and for those who r making communal violence an excuse, let me inform them that unlike india which has seen dozens of massive communal riots kashmir has always had communal harmony, when 4 lac muslims were butchered in jammu by hindu fanatics, not even a single hindu was touched in kashmir, over which ur gandhi said, “i see a ray of hope fr secularism from kashmir”.
    I request u all to stop making a fool of urselves by taking to lame excuses and simply either appreciate the suggestions laid down by the author or simply deny rights to kashmiris.


  26. Plz read the provisions of the Plebiscite… It deals with all withdrawal of forces in Kashmir first by Pakistan and then by China and lastly by India. Is it possible that any of these countries crying for Plebiscite will first withdraw…

    The writer has not done his homework well. I wish he would study more and then tackle and interview the people in right perspective.
    Many Kashmiris are fed on false tales, many are influenced by fiery speeches and talks of their religion being in danger ….
    …..Tell me is the religion meant for people or people meant for religion … Is religion so weak and cowardly that it needs humans to protect it.

    Much falsehood lies in Kashmir , Many spread rumours and lies so smoothly that one is sure not to disbelieve them, Some kashmiris are very sane and balanced. Some have created shops on the tears of kashmir. Some have erected mansions and malls by tom tomming their stories and making them larger than life. Some have given calls to students to leave their study and walk the streets and pelt stones while their own children seek visas for education in foreign countries.

    Plz don’t compare a community that is developed , somewhat civilized willing to listen to reason and are not smooth liars with those in Kashmir.

    Kashmir problem is complex, there are more stakeholders in keeping the cauldron of suffering and agitation boiling and less of those who want to solve the problem, this includes a congregation of some developed countries too.

    Your piece is much on the upper layer and fails to dig deeper into the muck that lies below in the way Kashmir is handled, why, how, and till when. Many geographical issues are also involved and it is not so simplistic as you have portrayed it .

    You have not even touched the community of Kashmiri Pandits who were ousted and languish in miserable conditions and your piece is one sided without going into the real psyche of the people, their character, their beliefs, their hypocrisies, their strenghts and weaknesses .


  27. This article appears to be skewed. I do agree that each and every citizen of India, be it from Kashmir or Kanyakumari, should have the same rights, but this article seems to be written only from one point of view and does not mention the role that Pakistan has played in bringing this misery on to the Kashmiri people. Also it seems that most of Kashmiri people do not want to accept the Constitution of India, that guaranties these fundamental rights to its citizens. Also, it does not take into consideration the minorities of Kashmir for a solution. I don’t know if the article written by Justin Podur has to do anything with him being influenced by Eqbal Ahmed, who was a Pakistani political scientist, writer, journalist or the writer of this article being a fellow of the Iqbal International Institute for Research and Dialogue at the International Islamic University-Islamabad. But I do hope and pray that there is everlasting peace in Kashmir for it’s people including the minorities, so that one day they are able to go back to the place where their hearts belong.


  28. It seems as if the article has been written by someone from the Jihadi camp and handed over to this guy to paste it to fool people. I don’t know about this guy but want to tell you clearly that many, yes many facts stated here are completely wrong and the author MUST read history and past happenings before writing on them. Afzal was innocent! He handed over himself! Well as you mentioned that there is someone who is getting benefitted from the present situation is completely true and it is not long before the situation is going to be controlled. These anti social element are unfortunately sitting inside Kashmir and ruling it but shortly it will be freed along with their people.


  29. Thanks for a very good article!

    Just a quick point about Norway: Norway wasn’t, unlike Quebec or Jammu & Kashmir, a province or state in a larger nation. It was one of two nations in a union, although Sweden was the richer, more populous and more powerful part. Still, Swedes probably never saw Norway as an integral part of Sweden, although they probably enjoyed having some power over it.

    I still very much agree to the point you’re making, but it’s worth knowing that the situation with Norway and Sweden was very different, in case someone brings it up.


  30. As a former travel agent , with many Kashmiri friends, I know one thing. Kashmir depends a lot on tourism which creates most of its organised labour. If Kashmir were to secede, they would be hurt economically. As they were during the militancy in 90s’. Now Kashmir is booming & hotels are sold out till November. Guess why people are coming back. Because the army cleared the militants out. Tourists feel secure. A five star hotel opened in Gulmarg. Yes there must have been rogue elements and crimes. But seriously 10000 women were raped? DO you even have any data to back up these figures? This kind of fudged data is really not helping your cause. If there are serious crimes, then they should be prosecuted by CBI. The reality is Kashmir’s economic future lies with India. It must forget the past and move on.


  31. India is a modern imperialist mindset country! We should not forget the fact the majority J&K are muslims hence they committing crimes and attrocities.
    We kashmiries want freedom. To answer some of you jammu and ladakh has a small population and if you just take jammu city it’s insignificant but if you take Rajouri ,Poonch, Doda et those have majority muslim popualtion.
    Ladakh again has a 50% Muslim and 50% Budhist so dont try to divide J&K> We are one and we regardless of religion want freedom from India.


  32. whenever someone talks about real conditions of kashmir…..He is cross questioned???That is the fault of people especially leaving outside the kashmir because they do not know what is going there!!!
    He who has lived some nights in kashmir or lived for months will surely know what is right and what wrong!
    Leaving comments here and there by reading false books & false watching news is not a knowledge but ignorance!!!!
    The writer has Written a fact……………………………………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  33. Dear sir I am thankful to you for writing such a beautiful article about kasmir.it reflects pains of innocent kashmiri very nicely.


  34. Being a Kashmiri, I would like to deeply appreciate your view on Kashmir!
    India has to leave its stubborn approach towards Kashmir isdue thats the only solution to end voilence here..
    otherwise, Kashmir will be posted as the reason of escalation of war b/w India & Pakistan in the future..
    Appreciate your views man! :)


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