THE PIECES IN THIS VOLUME OFFER RARE INSIGHTS INTO THE LIVES OF THOSE CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE.

V. Rajaraman

This is a must- read for all those interested in the Kashmir issue.

alt39 Until My Freedom Has Comeal

t39 is a collection of essays edited by Sanjay Kak, a reputed documentary film maker and commentator on the Kashmir imbroglio. The policy makers in New Delhi are committed to a peaceful dialogue with Pakistan, on the condition that Pakistan obliterates all the terrorist camps in her country.

The involvement of Gulam Nabi Fai in championing the pro- Pakistan stand on Kashmir separatists, and the Mumbai bomb- blasts only strengthen this contention of the Indian government. Can India and Pakistan ever solve the problem of Kashmir? Would Pakistan be able to flush out all terrorists from her country? The Indian allegation that Pakistan is the nourishing soil for all the terrorists has been proved time and again by the terrorists attacks on the Indian soil and quite recently by the American Intelligence exterminating Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. And yet there are uprisings in Kashmir demanding total freedom.

What guarantee is there that Pakistan will cease from destabilising India once the Kashmir issue is resolved? With Pakistans closeness to China, which claims that Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory, there is no surety that Pakistan will stay away from India and revert to real democracy.

But for all that, is Kashmir a part of Indian democracy? Omar Abdullahs government is a reminder that it is.

The uprising mainly in Sopore and Shopian did not stir the world so much as the Egyptian uprising in the Tahir Square to restore democracy in Egypt. The point of the matter is that we have put up with the Kashmir issue for too long. It is perhaps the longest issue in modern times. The special status given to Kashmir by the Indian constitution has been eroding.

Is there a chasm between what Kashmiris really want and what the presiding government in New Delhi offers? Sanjay Kak wrote in Economic and Political Weekly ( Sept 11, 2010) ” that elections are seen locally not as a measure of popular support but the mechanism by which the writ of the Indian government can be stamped on the dispensation of its choice.” A viewer poll conducted by the CNN/ IBN channel ( August 5, 2010) showed that 82% of its viewers wanted India to completely overturn its strategy on Kashmir. But the million- dollar question is – what is the way forward? Total liberation from India as Masarat Alam Bhat, the Muslim league leader contends.

He looks at India as an oppressor who has occupied Jammu and Kashmir since 1947 and that she must quit. In this context can we afford to forget Jawaharlal Nehrus promise of plebiscite? The Kashmir diaspora has brought international visibility to the Kashmir issue. Kashmiris are caught in regional machinations. Why is it that the commitment to decide the future of Kashmir by its people obfuscated over the years? The mere fact of article 370 of the Indian constitution according Jammu and Kashmir a special status is an acknowledgement of the uniqueness of the Kashmir region.

There are many embarrassing questions but unless these questions are answered convincingly the image of India is bound to suffer.

A dialogue for a peaceful solution is impossible under the shadow of terrorism.

This is a development not foreseen in 1947. Pakistan and India went to war over Kashmir in 1947 and the United Nations managed a ceasefire allocating one third of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and the rest to India. The year 1989 witnessed a large- scale exodus of Kashmiri Pandits to various parts of India.

Mridu Rai in an interesting article alt39 Making a part Inalienablealt39 mentions that some of these are bent on exile ” due to the machinations of the Indian government,” that wants the nonmuslim population to leave so that unhindered action can be taken against terrorists.

The collection ends with a letter penn

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