Will their promises wipe away the mass graves? Will those in our unmarked graves be known? Will they bring back our disappeared? Will they bring back our dead? We are not them, we never were; human rights violations or not.
It is show-time coming up soon. The world’s ‘largest democracy’ is preparing for the 16th Lok Sabha elections. One poster of promises is covered by the other; another is torn down to make way for some other. The media is already carrying out its analysis of who they think will win. People are excited about casting their vote. Some might call this as showcasing the success of Indian democracy – regular elections – free and fair, people in large numbers coming out to vote across the country, choosing their representatives, writing their own fate. Oh, so much to boast about! Who cares how representative or how inclusive this democracy is, who cares how many criminals have jumped in to ‘lead’ the people, who cares how democratic the country actually is, who cares if there is a place this country has held onto by force?
The bugle has been sounded. Campaigning is on at full swing. One is called a shehzaada, another is a Pakistan agent, another is a wave (yes, humans do become waves, you see!). Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Aam Aadmi Party and the list goes on. So does maligning and mudslinging! So do hate speeches! So do promises! What does all this mean for Kashmir? Well, for a common Kashmiri, how does it matter when he does not even consider himself to be a part of the largest democracy of the world in the first place? You cannot relate to it, you just will not. You watch these ‘leaders’ come and go, one after the other, each one repeating the ‘integral part’ theory. This is no democratic exercise for a nation whose basic right to self determination has been snatched.
What would promises of zero tolerance to Human Rights violations, of autonomy and self rule and of development mean for a nation that has only seen betrayal? When the Indian army landed in Kashmir in October of that year when the subcontinent was divided into India and Pakistan, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a telegram to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan, stating, “I should like to make it clear that the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the state to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or state must be decided in accordance with wishes of people and we adhere to this view.” Here was a betrayal and the series of betrayals that have followed are there for the world to see. In its over six decades of independence, the country has not cared about those wishes. Promises and more promises have only meant betrayal and more betrayal.
For Kashmir, this entire thing is but a drama. What development can they bring to Kashmir when they are the ones who carry out its destruction side by side as they make promises? Do they think promising to build bridges will make us forget the graveyards that lie scattered all over? Are they foolish enough to believe that the aura of excitement that is visible in their country will cross over the mountains into Kashmir and clear off the smell of blood from the air? Will their promises wipe away the mass graves? Will those in our unmarked graves be known? Will they bring back our disappeared? Will they bring back our dead? We are not them, we never were; human rights violations or not. Keeping a people chained does not make them the democracy they claim to be. So, while their puppets can very well claim to be our leaders, our hearts will never belong to this country with its hands soaked in our blood and its collective conscience too dirty to make us want to be a part of it.
This entire drama of a nation that is so blinded by the love for itself only makes you want to shout out that one word, pray for it, strive for it, fight for it – that one dream – that passion – that goal – that silent cry – that powerful scream – that blessed word – Azaadi!