What Heaven is Thou Kashmir!


Indefinite curfews are imposed to restrict any civilian movement. Internet and telephone facilities are taken off air, local newspapers are not allowed to go for printing and the Indian media organisations go by the dictates of the intelligence agencies. An atmosphere of fear is created to silence the people.

Kashmir, Occupied Kashmir,In common parlance, Kashmir is synonymous to heaven. This misrepresentation needs to be dispelled at the outset. It is an imperialist construct, carried forward by the Indian state from the British rulers to give legitimacy to its (mis)rule in Kashmir. Trapped between the multiple versions of history and the struggle for identity, the people of Kashmir have become victims of visible and invisible, known and unknown forces of occupation.

The contesting contours of Kashmir’s history are hard to traverse. The unfolding narratives, however, manifest how Kashmir as a territory never belonged to its people and also, how Kashmir as a population was never controlled by foreign rulers. Much of the scholarship on pre-colonial Kashmir, however, provides abundant insight into the absence of any ideological, social, cultural and religious discord in the region among its people.

The present crisis in Kashmir, recognised by the international community, has its roots in the creation of India and Pakistan as independent nation states in 1947. In one sense of history, Kashmir is a legacy that the British left India and Pakistan with. Kashmir, since the partition, has been a focal point of war between the two neighbouring nuclear powers.

 The Fight for Identity

All social and political movements derive from their ideology a particular identity. The discourses around Kashmir’s fight for self-determination are mostly of the state-sponsored variety. Therefore, any ideology that may have influenced the people of Kashmir to rise in rebellion against Indian military occupation has been systematically overshadowed by the “integral part” rhetoric to a large extent. The established institutions have successfully disallowed the truth to come out in its real form and contributed to the formulation of popular discourses. The upsetting achievement of the Indian policy of denial and misrepresentation on Kashmir has been continuing the murder of identity.

The decision of the youth to wage a guerrilla battle against India in the late 1980s was a sudden transformation from a peaceful struggle to an armed one, “inspired” by an undemocratic state of affairs. All peaceful options had ceased to exist and a sustained armed struggle appeared to be politically rewarding to the beleaguered people. The shift did not mark any ideological transition in the freedom struggle, as the dominant discourses tend to suggest. The Muslim United Front, mostly comprising of pro-freedom leaders, had decided to contest the 1987 Assembly elections and push forward their political agenda democratically. The Indian establishment, through state apparatus, ensured the defeat of Muslim United Front by conducting a mass rigging of the elections. This paved the way for the transition in the mode of struggle; the ultimate aim, however, remained the same.

Azaadi (freedom) from the Indian rule has been central to Kashmir’s resistance movement. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) became the first armed group to fight for the cause of freedom. The Indian army unleashed a reign of terror following the formation of the JKLF. Under the garb of what it called ‘anti-insurgency’, the Army killed scores of innocents and JKLF sympathisers. The JKLF with its pro-freedom ideology was marginalised and soon replaced by militant outfits based in Pakistan. The involvement of different other militant organisations in the Kashmir struggle gave it a communal colour. From a purely political movement, the Kashmiri struggle for freedom was construed as a religious movement. The Indian media played a key role in shaping the public perception. The term ‘militants’ was replaced by ‘Islamist terrorists’ and Kashmir’s pro-freedom leaders came to be known as ‘separatists’.

The formation of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization for all pro-freedom organizations, in 1993, gave a new direction to the struggle. It adopted a peaceful approach and held a series of unsuccessful dialogues with different political parties in power in Kashmir and Delhi. India’s flawed Kashmir policy ensured that no solution comes out. The status quo approach constantly pushed for the legitimacy of India’s presence in Kashmir. Later, the infighting within Hurriyat, the factionalism, all went in favour of India when the amalgam broke.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Chairman of one of the factions of Hurriyat, has long been the face of Kashmir’s struggle. Criticised for his pro-Pakistan policy, Geelani has found mass acceptance among young and old alike. His consistency to the cause has been phenomenal in shaping Kashmir’s struggle. However, he has focused on protests and shut downs as a strategy to fight the Indian rule. History bears testimony to the fact that struggles for political sovereignty are not won by street protests. Also, Geelani is seen as a hard-core Islamist who wants an Islamic state. But he has constantly reaffirmed that the fate of independent Kashmir will be decided by its people and not by him in person.

Therefore, during the course of Kashmir’s devastating history, freedom from India’s rule has been a common factor through all movements that have surfaced.

Society and the Loss of Life

Since Kashmir erupted against India’s rule in an armed struggle, torture, rape, murder, enforced disappearances have become common phenomenon here. The Indian army has committed unspeakable human rights violations on the civilian population that are akin to war crimes. The humanitarian losses of the Kashmir conflict have come in varied forms. A systemic pattern is easily discernible in the way the Indian army has dealt with the resistance movement. Much of what has been perpetrated on the people of Kashmir is to do with the undemocratic laws, like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which do not pass the basic tests of legality. Such laws provide the Indian forces with immense impunity to kill innocent people at will. Amnesty International has correctly labeled such laws as “lawless”.

The fact that the Indian troopers get away scot free after committing crimes provides rationale to the people to conduct their movement through more violent means. Violence from the people is therefore a response to the State’s brutal architecture that muffles all dissent and provides no justice. The people in Kashmir have lost a generation fighting, and the present generation has adopted new means to carry forward the struggle.

The 2008 Amarnath Land Transfer was an attempt to divide the state on regional lines. The people in Jammu were given an impression that “vested interests” in Kashmir have a monopoly over the entire land. The whole issue was given a communal colour and people in Jammu went up in arms against the common Kashmiris.

The three years of uprising and street protests saw more than a hundred youth killed. The struggle appeared to steam out when hundreds of stone pelting youth were arrested during night raids by the police and booked under Public Safety Act (PSA), another arbitrary law that provides the police with the power of arresting people at the pretext of ensuring “law” and “order”. Hundreds of youngsters continue to languish in jails, boys as young as 12 were booked for two years for demanding justice.

While thousands joined the popular street protests, a huge chunk of college students found the social media and the internet as a tool to express their anger. Websites like The Vox Kashmir (www.thevoxkashmir.com) have become a platform of expression which allows the people to narrate their own stories. Initiatives like these provide a feeling of belonging and oneness to which all Kashmiris can relate. They tell stories from Kashmir to the world that still lives under the illusion that Afzal Guru was a terrorist.

The hanging of Afzal Guru for his involvement in the 2002 Indian Parliament attack was the last nail in the coffin. It stamped the belief that no justice is possible for the people of Kashmir. Also, that if the Kashmiri people do not stop fighting for freedom, the response can be more dangerous. Indefinite curfews are imposed to restrict any civilian movement. Internet and telephone facilities are taken off air, local newspapers are not allowed to go for printing and the Indian media organisations go by the dictates of the intelligence agencies. An atmosphere of fear is created to silence the people.

In the Name of Culture

While the civilian population remains imprisoned due to perilous curfews, Beethoven is played out on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar. In the name of culture, India makes all attempts to establish credibility and give legitimacy to the military occupation. The fact remains that Ladakh has been completely cut out from Kashmir, and no cultural or literary exchanges are allowed. Bande Paat has been thrown into oblivion, and no regime has taken its importance seriously. Kashmir’s overall culture has been reduced to sports tournaments organised by the Indian Army and musical concerts by the CRPF.

In the name of promoting Kashmir’s culture, the Indian state has planted NGOs to conduct its affairs. These NGOs are used to tap the antagonism against India. In the workshops they conduct, Kashmiri students are narrated success stories from India. Art and culture festivals are sponsored by the state government with a precondition that nothing related to the Kashmir conflict should be allowed. Kashmir’s culture has become a commodity that India is selling in the international market as ‘peaceful’ and ‘normal’.

The author is from Kashmir and studies in Delhi

Discussion15 Comments

  1. Kashmir struggle is nothing but exploitation by pakistan of youth frustrated against the politics. People all over India are frustrated with politicians but kashmiris’ frustrations were supported by pakistan and hence they could create a separatist group. The UN plebiscite on Kashmir was due to India and Pakistan and Kashmiris themselves never demanded such a thing. Self Determination is a later phenomenon. Hurriyat leaders are in a poor minority and are scared to face people through elections. They are surviving because they get funding from abroad and its become their job. Whenever Pakistan or for that matter ISI tells them to do something to keep the issue alive they begin creating troubles. They are living a royal life which no ordinary kashmiri can even dream of. Militants kill elected village heads to ensure that there is no democratic process. when pakistan stops supplying trained terrorists, there is a peace in the kashmir valley.

    world now knows that so called kashmiri militancy is all pakistan sponsored like the one in Punjab. when Punjab border was sealed the militancy finished. Now india is fencing kashmir borders whiich is very difficult job as the terrain is hilly but we can see the effect already. If India can check Pak infiltration there will be peace in Kashmir.

    • @Aseem.

      Read history of Kashmiri struggle my friend and have some respect for the women who have been raped by your bunch of terrorists called the India-army

      Have some respect for the innocent Kashmiris families who have lost their loved ones in farcical “encounters” with Indian army.

      And lastly, grow up please.

      • Please have the similar feelings for those families of kashmiris who have been killed/raped/forcefully married by pak-infiltrated militants. Please feel for the anarchy and chaos perpetrated by the pakistani militants in kashmir during the 90s which took the life and childhood away from kashmiri children.

        You need to know the ground reality. your own Najam Sethi visited kashmir when Musharraf was president and presented him with the facts that –
        1. No Kashmiri wants to join Pakistan.
        2. Happy with Musharraf for stopping jihadis in kashmir
        this made Musharraf change his stand on Kashmir and work out a Chenab formula.

        Jinnah could fool Britishers with his two nation theory or rather British and US created pakistan for their own geo-strategic reasons but there is no ground for Kashmir to be an independent nation. Even Pakistan does not want an independent Kashmir, they want kashmir subjugated to Pakistan. You are far away from reality and living in your own dreamworld.

        What you are accusing Indian Army of? please check your own army’s record in Balochistan. India never uses its airforce to bombard its own people like you did in Balochistan and north wester areas of Pakistan.

        • @Aseem

          You’re good at making up stories. All fiction no fact. But then the Hidutva types, the kind who attacked a Pakistani musicians at the Press Club in Mumbai, aren’t interested in facts are they.

          My friend, you’re at liberty to hate us and people don’t need a reason to hate each other. All I say is you hatred of us is based on fiction and that is IGNORANCE. Are you ignorant?

          • @Striver, we dont hate you buddy. rather i am trying to present the facts which the article writers try to hide and you people are happy reading feel good articles.

            India has huge money in sports, media, music and entertainment industry and some people dont like ordinary pakis to come to india for the sake of its money as Pakistan continues to sponsor terror in india. On one hand Pakistan does not like doing business with us but your people are dying to come to bollywood

            India indeed welcomes musical talents like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ghulam Ali, Sabri Brothers, Abida Perveen etc. but not any tom dick and harry. But all this does not justify attack on the music band. it is condemnable.

  2. India is ripe for another partition! We also took Azaad Kashmir and will take the rest as well. It’s just a matter of time, fences can not stop justice from prevailing. Many Sikh’s still want a Khalistan as well.

    • Only those sikhs want khalistan who have never set foot in india and living a western life in canada. they can create a Khalistan in Canada or around Nankana Sahib if they wish.

      The world knows you took part of Kashmir by invasion but dont forget that once india entered kashmir you have not been able to take an inch rather you have only lost Siachin and Shaksgam Valley and now is the time to lose rest of the kashmir under your wrongful occupation.
      The job of fences is to prevent infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan and they are successful in it.

      You can keep dreaming like sheikhchilli that india will be doomed, bombarded with atom bombs, it will break, captured by pakistan etc etc but the reality you also know very well. When Indian army moves a little on the border it sends a shiver down your spine.

    • The Khalistan movement died out because the ISI sold out the sikhs because they started demanding Lahore and Nanakana Saheb be included in Khalistan.

      Regarding partition – read 1971.

      • @Khalistan

        Do you Hindutvas live in the real world? Get your facts from us. We can teach you plenty of them.

        Fact 1: Bhutto betrayed ISI and the Khalistan movement by giving Rajiv Gandhi the names of Sikh separatists.

        Why did she do this? Ask me and I shall teach you another fact.

        • Bhutto need not give names of Khalistani terrorists, Indian police knew about it. Once Punjab border was fenced, the Pak trained terrorists could not infiltrate to india to create trouble. All those in india were brought to justice. today, Punjab is peaceful and Sikhs are talking about Nankana Sahib and Lahore as sikh territories.

  3. The Zionist wall has not stopped the Palestinians and the Hindu fence will not stop my brave Kashmiri brothers. The mentality of Zionists and pagan hindus is remarkably similar. Both have a penchant for creating concentration camp prisons. The 1984 massacre of 20,000 Sikhs lingers very deeply Sikh psyche and now new revelations of the Randi bitch Gandhi’s bombing of the golden temple at the behest of her gora masters have also come to light. This fool Aseem has been given a special brew of hindu cola which has resulted in a thorough brain washing.

    • The problem is that you fail to understand the nation of India. You look at india from 2-nation theory perspective while Pakistan may be a religious islamic state, India is a secular state. In a plural society there will always be some conflict but the phenomonon of nationalism among Indians is much deep rooted and its beyond religious beliefs, caste, color and language.
      The man credited with finishing militancy in Punjab is Punjab Police and its DGP KPS Gill….and they were sikhs. The man in-charge of Opn Blue Star was a Sikh General Brar. There is no hatred among sikhs against their own nation, rather they are the most passionate nationalist. Aurangzeb’s atrocity on their Sikh gurus make them hate muslims but they have so matured that they too respect muslims. Thanks to India’s policy of secularism and respect for all religions.
      Indian muslims to some extent dont like Israelis for what they did with Palestinians but when they see how the Arabs exploited palestinians, their hatred for zionists seems neutralized.
      We Indians believe in religious tolerance and secularism. Indian jews, parsis, bahais, ahmedis love india as much as a muslim, sikh, hindu or buddhist does.

      I am not brainwashed by Talibans and I have high regards for the academic syllabus followed in India.

  4. Alansaralhaq says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    February 10, 2014 at 3:35 am
    If Aseem the son of the Ganges feels he has the moral right to DICTATE what the sons of The Indus in Kashmir want then I say put your money where your dirty mouth is.
    Give Kashmiris a right to SELF DETERMINATION and to guarantee our safety from the vile Hindu Army this should be under a UN auspice.
    Respect to Sayani Roy;
    Only to embrace you, Freedom oh freedom!
    Only to embrace you
    How long do we have to float in the pool of blood?
    How long do we need to witness bloodshed?
    Only to embrace you, Freedom oh freedom!
    Only to embrace you
    Shahid happily donned the cap of martyrdom
    Ammijaan took resort to self-imprisonment
    Only to embrace you, Freedom oh freedom!
    Only to embrace you
    Thousands of Afzals were sent to the gallows
    Thousands of Ghalibs lost their childhood
    Only to embrace you, Freedom oh freedom!
    Only to embrace you
    Villages turned into ashes
    Towns turned into graveyards
    Only to embrace you, Freedom oh freedom!
    Only to embrace you
    The little one sat with an empty vessel at the end of the road
    While a woman inside lost her honour
    Only to embrace you, Freedom oh freedom!
    Only to embrace you
    White turned into red
    Red turned into black
    Only to embrace you, Freedom oh freedom!
    Only to embrace you
    He let the metal sped through his pheran
    Rain washed away the blood into Jhelum
    From one corner of the world to the other corner
    Embarking on a new journey
    Blowing trumpets all over
    In this valley
    At the stroke of midnight
    You surely have to come, Freedom oh freedom!

    By the will of Allah it will come and we the righteous who have suffered despicable inhumane treatment by a cowardly vile Hindu army will one day be free too. History has shown the will of nations can never be destroyed through instruments of oppression and India in time will fail.

    So Aseem put your money where your mouth is if you are Certain.
    How can people who belong to the Indus Valley ( Modern day Pakistan ) be held hostage by the dirt water people of The Ganges ( Modern India ). We Kashmiris find everything emanating from the Ganges vile and abhorrent to the point a culture, languages that disgust me.
    We are more Central Asian than we are the culture of our captors.

    • Take my words.
      Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan but Kashmir remained with India
      Balochistan may secede from Pakistan but Kashmir will remain with India
      Khyber Pakhtunkhwa may secede from Pakistan but Kashmir will remain with India
      Sindh may secede from Pakistan but Kashmir will remain with India
      FATA and Mohajirs may secede from Pakistan but Kashmir will remain with India.
      If you want to join other Kashmiris in their peace, progress and prosperity, you are welcome.

      You can wake up a person who is sleeping, you cant wake up a person who is faking to sleep.
      Kashmir enjoys all the freedom no matter how much you shout about their oppression, suppression, subjugation. Kashmiris are First Class citizens of India like every other Indian Citizen.

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