Mumbai was a reality. It needed a more pervasive investigation to connect the dots but the facts were lost in irrational emotion. We, India and Pakistan, failed to seize the moment to establish facts in totality, bring perpetrators to justice, and initiate cooperative mechanisms to eliminate terror from our midst. Wishful? Surely, but there isn’t a bar on dreaming yet – not even in Kashmir. One held on to it long but events, bankrupt thought and a sterile leadership shattered those in an environment of contrived hate.
And this was under the Congress; the BJP under Narendra Modi with his special brand of hate was some time away. Calls to bomb Pakistan into oblivion and a shrieking, shouting media castigating Pakistan without an established shred of evidence overrode all else that could be rational or remedial. Statesmanship took a backseat, common sense took leave, and South Asia spiraled down to its depraving depths. Two nuclear nations saber-rattling to their ultimate demise. Quixote would have rejoiced.
And then came the BJP under Narendra Modi. A new brand built around his RSS roots and a history of the worst communal killings in Gujarat under his direct watch; the ‘butcher of Gujarat’ is how India and the rest of the world remembered him. Yet one hoped he may turn out different when he sat over all of India; that he could be another Vajpayee. The real one had been short-circuited in 1999 by Pakistan’s very own blunderous adventurism in Kargil.
Despite Modi’s statesman-like initiation with a global nuance, he soon descended to his real self. As Hindutva gained and ascended India’s social order, replacing its secular credentials, Muslims became its first target of hate and barbarity. The policy travelled to Kashmir where ethnic cleansing and ethnic engineering became kosher via a military that already outnumbered the population in the valley. The Indian military got ‘special powers’ to kill, maim, blind, rape, abuse, revile and eliminate – at will, without check and as a part of the policy.
The elected government of Jammu and Kashmir – mostly a puppet of the center at Delhi, yet representative in a way – was dissolved and Governor’s Rule instituted. The state was thus brought directly under the center. Without any noise from any political quarter because none formally existed, the Indian army and its paramilitary have been on a killing spree. Thousands have been killed in cold blood and contrived encounters in the valley; hundreds of young and old have been blinded via pellet-guns; scores of women have been raped. A major of the Indian army was awarded a gallantry medal for tying a Kashmiri to his jeep and driving around. One other’s dead corpse was desecrated when another ‘gallant’ army officer dragged it behind his jeep through the streets to instill fear.
There was resort to ethnic cleansing through genocide, a tactic imported from Israel along with pellet guns, and ethnic engineering by inducting Hindus and retired military men in Jammu in violation of the constitution to reshape the ethnic landscape in their favour. If this doesn’t tempt the Kashmiris to fight their corner and resist their forced colonisation, what will? They have reacted. The story has been written in blood and pain and each new killing – from Burhan Wani to Adil Dar – has touched the imagination of every Kashmiri and rekindled the flame of his right to liberty.
This isn’t hyperbole, this is real stuff, happening as we speak. The Indians failed to sense the moment and let the movement for liberty grow to the point of irreversibility. India has patently failed to integrate the Kashmiris over the last seven decades and Modi’s insidious attempt at covert capture of Kashmir has only shown flame to the lurking combustibility.
Thinking Indians suggest that India has already lost Kashmir; it is just a matter of time when the alienated Kashmiris will win it for themselves. Young boys and girls now contest the Indian military with stones, as the forces arrive in an area to hound Kashmiri men to their death and to destroy their hearth and homes.
Pulwama thus occurred on the back of a rationale. It wasn’t an isolated terror act, it was a nation’s reaction to a heinous war imposed on it. It has a history. India’s knee-jerk reaction to pin it on Pakistan may appease domestic sentiment in the Hindu belt but the saner elements continue to wonder when Modi will stop using dead bodies and Muslim corpses for votes. He won his 2014 election on the back of such hate, reinforcing it when in power, and his attempt at using hate again to carve political advantage reeks of abject depravation. Ask Mamta Bannerjee, West Bengal’s chief minister.
After the 2002 stand-off, Musharraf in a televised speech had undertaken to deny the use of territories under Pakistan to stir trouble in Kashmir. If it was a tacit acceptance that the state had indeed been complicit in looking the other way, so be it, but here-on the intent was clear. The environment in the valley improved considerably and the Indian media lauded the change and Pakistan’s follow-up to the commitment. Till Modi came and wished to do away with Article 370, not circumscribe the Special Powers Act, initiate Yatras to gradually claim an increasing Hindu hold of the valley, forcibly change the ethnic composition of Jammu and Ladakh, kill Kashmiris at will – and so ignited the fires of liberty, again.
As the Indian state oppressed them more, the Kashmiris fought back more. Tens of thousands have lost their lives to this brutal repression. Death lost its meaning to a Kashmiri. That is when Kashmir was set alight, not by Pakistan but by putting to waste all of Kautiliya’s wisdom. India has only itself to blame.
Trust Modi to ignite the passion of Hindu nationalism as he saber-rattles once again to teach Pakistan a lesson. What he might do is moot but what is clearly known and so eloquently enunciated by Imran Khan is that it shall be contended with matching force and responded to in kind. Lest the nuclear deterrence is invoked it will help to recline back in Delhi and contemplate what tricks India might be missing. The Modi-Doval arsenal of ideas lays bare and hopelessly exposed. The ongoing trial of Kulbhushan Jadhadav in Geneva stands testimony to such bankrupt thinking.
Pakistan has barely begun to emerge out of its own black hole. With FATF and the Kulbhushan trial in the spotlight, Pakistan had all to lose while India would be the only gainer in the backdrop of another event in India labeled with terror. There is too much at stake for Pakistan to indulge any more is such shenanigans while it remains India’s most preferred resort to opportunistic gains. The only beneficiary remains Narendra Modi who can twist Pulwama to his political advantage.