On a daily basis, people are dying in Kashmir. These are ordinary people, civilians, young men, students, and boys. These are not dreaded terrorists or militants. These are not Pakistani infiltrators. They are Kashmiri people living Kashmir. And they are being shot dead by Indian armed forces, whose guns are bullets are paid for by my taxes.
Yesterday, more than 15 Kashmiris were killed by Indian security forces taking the toll to 85 since June 2010. The people came out defying curfew in almost all parts of Kashmir Valley, in Srinagar, Baramulla, Sopore, Anantnag, Pampore, Charar-e-Sharif, Budgam, Pulwama. The message is clear. Kashmiris seek freedom. Freedom from Indians.
Indians are still thinking in half measures. Some people believe that giving better jobs will solve this problem. Others think that talking to Kashmiris will solve the problem. Talking to them nicely is a first step. What shall we do after that? Talking nicely alone won’t help. There have to be actions, concrete actions. What are they?
Time for half measures is over. We need to take a bold decision. And unfortunately, that decision involves trifurcating the state, giving more autonomy to Kashmir, and may be complete freedom to Kashmir.
Some commenters have asked if majority of Kashmir wants freedom or if it is only small section of people. Since we do not have referendum, we cannot say it with confidence. For example, for many months Andhras kept saying that only few people in Telangana seek separate state whereas most Telanganas know that they want a separate state. One Andhra politician went on to say that 83% of Telanganas want to remain in united state. Telanganas completely disbelieve it and know that it is a blatant lie. However many Andhras believed such statements for a long time. That’s why they always thought that the current agitation is creation of few politicians.
Something similar is happening to Kashmir Muslims. The people living there know what they want. People outside the region have false perceptions. The media which is mostly Indian wants to project an image which suggests that there are some people in the valley who want to be with India. However, we can still infer lot of information from the available opinion polls. It’s easy to discredit them or punch holes. But if you really want to understand the signs are out there.
From Reuters 2007:
Nearly 90 percent of people living in Indian Kashmir's summer capital want their troubled and divided state to become an independent country, according to a poll in an Indian newspaper on Monday.
87% of people questioned in Srinagar have no allegiance to either side. Only 3% percent of the mainly Muslim inhabitants of the city think Kashmir should become part of Pakistan, and 7% prefer Indian rule.
But down in Jammu, the state's mainly Hindu winter capital in the plains to the south, 95% think Kashmir should be part of India.
From Indian Express 2007:
87% in Kashmir Valley seek Independence.
84% in Kashmir Valley do NOT feel that a solution to the Kashmir problem exists within the framework of the Indian Constitution.
91% in Kashmir Valley do NOT want to be with India, with 72% seeking independence, and 19% seeking merger with Pakistan.
From Outlook 2010:
43% of entire J&K including POK favored independence. [Note that this includes other regions like Jammu and Ladakh].
[Source for Image: THE HINDU]