History bears a witness that during Indian freedom struggle, two shades of opinion were working in Indian resistance camp that was fighting British hegemony. One comprising of great Subash Chander Bose, Bagaht Singh, Ishfaq ullah, Ram Prakash Bismil, and Chander Shekar Azad like people who were of the opinion that British rule can be ended only through an armed struggle. The other group was led by MK Gandhi who introduced and propagated non-violent mode of resistance. It was Gandhi Ji’s point of view which succeeded not the other one.
History tells us that Gandhi Ji influenced people like Martin Luther King Jr to Nelson Mandela which is true. But today I want to pose a question that was Gandhi, Nehru, Petel, Maulana Azad or any other political leader or activist ever tortured by British at any torture center like Cargo? Was there any ban on political activities? Was Gandhi or any of his cohorts ever stopped from joining a funeral or booked under PSA like draconian law?
The answer is no. In fact British staged one Jalyanwala Bagh and are till date repenting for that while as the nation freed by Gandhi has staged dozens of Jalyanwalas in Kashmir without any regret or shame. This is why many historians believe that credit for Gandian theory of non-violence to succeed actually goes to British occupation which provided genuine political space to him and his colleagues. It was because the oppressor British provided genuine political space to Gandhi and his bandwagon which did not help the armed resistance to flourish.
Contrary to that today, I see Gandhi’s land and try to find his soul somewhere but am unable to find it anywhere. A state that glorifies Gandhi as its father of nation has trampled his vision and mission of Ahimsa under military boots. A nation that named its nuclear tests after lord Buddha ,‘smiling Buddha’, suppressed and is suppressing genuine peaceful political movement with iron fist and leaving no space for young Kashmiris to vent out their anger and pursue a peaceful resistance.
Another twist in this tail is that Indian hawkish rulers, authorities and their bias media blame Islamic radicalization among Kashmiri youth for upsurge in militant activities. I want to ask them: ‘if it is radicalization today, what was then the cause for us to initiate armed struggle in 1988?’ Kashmir is still the same, we see no change it the character of people despite all they have seen. We still long for humanity, religious tolerance, peaceful co-existence and non-violence. But we have been denied a space….a peaceful political space by the biggest democracy, space on our young ones has been and is being choked, You cannot push a young boy of 15 or 16 to the wall, humiliate his family in police stations, torture and torment him during political movement, abuse and accuse him on daily basis, blind him with pellets and kill him with bullets and still expect submission from him.
This is not done. You never have a beautiful resistance to an ugly oppression. And alas! This is what is going on in Kashmir.
So, this debate on why and how, is absurd in my view. At least in Indian circles this is deliberately being debated to shift blame on the oppressed. This debate has a simple answer, stop snatching political space, stop undemocratic means to curb political dissent, stop using black laws to cage your opponents, stop humiliating mothers, sisters and fathers of young political activists in police stations and army camps, have courage to allow peaceful resistance and see the change. I know these words of mine cannot change the hearts of modern day Hitler’s and Mussolini’s, but as a responsible citizen I take it as my duty to beat the drum again and again. I know Indian rulers and their Kashmiri helpers have only one option to offer and that is surrender. This is where they fail to grasp heartbeats of the people of Jammu Kashmir. Kashmiri did not surrender and submit when they were nick named as cowards, when a lone-ranger ‘Maqbool’ was fighting their cause. Not then when a single bullet fired was able to chase away thousands, today’s Kashmir is different, today’s youth runs towards bullets and fights with it bear handed. Today surrender or submission is no option.
Another irony of this saga has been of changing stances and colours, which I am a witness to, myself. India and the international community have never been consistent vis-a-vis Kashmir. In 1988, I along with many other brave heart’s started armed struggle prior to which no one in the world was ready to even look towards us. Soon this armed resistance transpired into a full-fledged people’s revolution in 1990. Indian political class, civil society and international diplomats sitting in Delhi were shaken to deep; soon they started their firefighting work.
Appealing Kashmiris to give peace a chance, to go non-violent, use Gandian way of Ahimsa, all came with pledges that if Kashmiris considered their appeal, they will stress upon or rather compel Delhi to start process of resolving Kashmir. And when Kashmiris heeded to their repeated implorations, and chose to give peace another chance, India claimed victory of defeating Kashmiri resistance and claimed normalcy and these civil societies, diplomats and dignitaries and their pledges all vanished in thin air. This firefighting tactics of Indian civil society and the international community is also responsible for the desperateness of Kashmiri boys whose belief is traumatized and shaken and who are left with no other option but to sacrifice their lives for their dignity.
This is my considered opinion that sooner or later India and the international community will realize their mistakes in Jammu Kashmir. They will listen to us as there is no other option but that. Recently in July 2017, I wrote an open letter to USA when it declared Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist. I will end up my write up with a quote from that letter:
“From 2008, thousands of our young educated youth are facing the wrath of Indian oppression. They are being arrested, put in jails under black laws, tortured, blinded; their families are humiliated by Indian forces and police resulting in many of them joining the armed struggle. We want to ask India and the international community a simple question that who is responsible for this annihilation of our young generation. Who choked peaceful political space on them, disregarded their peaceful defiance and pushed them to the wall? Isn’t this a high time that international champions of human rights, liberty and humanism introspect their role on Kashmir? Aren’t we humans and part of human civilization, if yes! Why then sacrifice us to fulfill your needs and aspirations of economic benefits? History is not determined by interests and power but by ideals and ideas. We are all tourists on this earth. We too will pass but ideas will remain. The most powerful ideas of our times are freedom, liberty and self-determination. Great powers rise and fall but ideas have a permanency that excels time and spans generations. The seeds of the idea of freedom and liberty have been sown in my land. It will surely sprout one day. But it may then be too late for the international community to be on the right side of history. It will have chosen interest and power but history will have settled on freedom. The international community will have, however, disregarded the ideals of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the USA who said, “The last hope of human liberty in this world rests on us. We ought, for so dear a stake, to sacrifice every attachment and every enmity”.
Author is Chairman JKLF. Ideas expressed in the write-up are personal