Dear Anyone in Kashmir,
Thank you for writing to me. I understand your angst, as I hope you will understand mine.
The army of any nation is a blunt instrument. It’s not a scalpel, but a broadsword. That’s just the nature of armies anywhere.
I reiterate….if anyone even touches a child, a woman or an elderly person he should be put behind bars and the keys thrown away. He can be from any arm or department of the government. Not for one moment am I advocating violence for violence’s sake.
I have served in Kashmir and I understand your perspective even if I don’t fully agree. I am witness to full scale violence by militants who were not even Kashmiris. I have seen Afghans and Pakistani Punjabis in the Valley, raping and killing. I have seen young kids being put to death by militants just because their brothers and fathers were suspected to giving information to the army. What I did not see was one bandh, one protest or one condemnation. Many Kashmiris even failed to acknowledge that these things happened. All their attention is forever on the security forces.
My letter was directed at Burhan Wani and his ilk…those who pick up arms against the state.
Please read up on statistics. More people die in Bihar and UP due to violence than in Kashmir. There are more custodial deaths in UP and Bengal. All this does not make it all right. My issue is not with the Kashmiri youth’s having a complaint with India and that complaint finding its expression in protests. My issue is with Pakistan deliberately fanning strife in Kashmir. My issue is with Hurriyat getting daily wage labourers to throw stones at security forces and putting women and children in front as shields. You say that kids are killed. I ask, what’s a 5 year old doing outside when stone pelting is going on? Why was he brought outside? You make it sound like someone entered a house, deliberately chose a 5 year old and said “Great…lets shoot him”. No. These kids are brought outside so that when there is teargas, firing and confusion the kid gets hit in the chaos and Hurriyat can then have a funeral photo op.
Before 1989, there was no militancy in Kashmir. There was political discontent but there was no violence. Violence in Kashmir coincided with the end of the Afghan jihad and the withdrawal of the Soviet forces. Please read about Operation Topac. Gen Zia-ul-Haq started terrorism in Kashmir. He used legitimate political discontent and did in Kashmir what he did in Afghanistan….money and weapons. He succeeded in Afghanistan but failed in Kashmir. Do you know why? Because Soviets were an invading force in Afghanistan but Kashmir has been part of India for thousands of years…before there was a Pakistan and before there was a UN Resolution.
If you want violence to end in Kashmir, give it 2 years. Knock at the gates of the Supreme Court and trust me, justice will be swift like in the case of Manipur. But then your patrons wouldn’t like that, would they? Finding justice like all Indians do…that would be a nightmare for the Generals in Rawalpindi. And there will be no funerals of 5 year olds. The last thing Pakistan wants is peace in Kashmir. They have fed opium to their citizens for 70 years and have neglected the entire population of Pakistan in pursuit of the Kashmir dream. They have no other agenda. How can they be loyal to Kashmiris if they cannot be loyal to Punjabis, Sindhis, Mohajirs, Pashtuns and Baluchis?
The solution is within the framework of the Indian constitution. It may not be attractive to Pakistanis because they have mangled their own constitution so many times that’s it’s a joke. But it should be attractive to Kashmiris. We all find peace in our constitution and so will you.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)