Kashmir: Ten inconvenient truths no one wants to hear

In a week when a fax machine became a major political player in J&K and Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti came together to block Narendra Modi, Barkha Dutt breaks down the inconvenient truths no one wants to hear in or about Kashmir.

How long are we going to pretend that things in Kashmir are getting better?

How long before we admit that the Valley has slipped into an irretrievable abyss?

Terrorists executed two teenagers — on camera — this week… And uploaded the videos on social media.

One’s throat was slit…the other shot… as he crouched in near darkness.

How much more will it take for us to be jolted out of our collective denial?

But instead of paying attention to this looming crisis…

Politicians — from all parties — played their own little games.

New Delhi abruptly and unfairly dissolved the state assembly…

As soon as Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti said they were joining hands.

Now fresh elections are inevitable in a state that may not be ready for it…

And instead of hope for a future…

Kashmir has been dragged back to a haunted past.

Here are 10 inconvenient truths about Kashmir:

ONE: There is no Modi doctrine on Kashmir.

Other than a broken experiment at forming government with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP,

Kashmir has not been a priority for this government…

And will count as one of the government’s top policy failures.

In fact, the last time we had a consistent Kashmir policy was when Vajpayee was Prime Minister.

And all of Vajpayee’s gains are being undone.

The Modi government is playing with fire in Kashmir…

To tarnish the Valley’s major mainstream parties as pro-Pakistani…

Just because they joined hands…

Weakens democracy and undermines India.

For a party that aggressively tom-toms its nationalism,

How can accusing your fellow citizens of treason be acceptable?

Were Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti not pro-Pakistani when they were YOUR allies?

In fact, isn’t the BJP only helping Pakistan with this dangerous narrative?

TWO: Both mainstream and separatist politics have little legitimacy today.

The stranglehold of two family-run dynasties… the Abdullahs & the Muftis has turned stale.

For now, it may be advantage Omar & Mehbooba.

Their dramatic partnership has blocked Sajad Lone and the BJP from forming a government.

But the BJP-PDP alliance of three years has already done irreparable damage…

Heightening extremist politics on either end.

And this week’s cynical political machinations by all sides

Can only hurt Kashmir in the long run.

As for the Hurriyat Conference — the self-declared arbiter of azaadi — it hasn’t offered a single new argument in years.

Kashmir desperately needs new politics, new faces, new leaders.

THREE: If the political leadership has lost its legitimacy…

So has the Kashmir issue.

Once genuine grievances and historical wrongs…

deserved engagement, apology and redressal.

Today those have been hijacked by terrorism, bigotry and intolerance…

Fuelled by Pakistan, and worse.

A people who have turned on themselves…

The systemic targeting of Jammu and Kashmir policemen…

37 have been killed in one year…

Is but one example.

The execution videos another…

Kashmiris can no longer argue that this is a just cause.

FOUR: Radicalism is real…

Not a conspiracy to defame the Valley.

Before he was eliminated, Burhan Wani’s videos called for a Caliphate.

So has Zakir Musa, who is still alive…

And whose mission is to create an Islamic state.

As a senior police officer told me…

Earlier Islam was a subset of azaadi…

Now azaadi is a subset of Islam.

FIVE: Islamist politics feeds off Hindutva politics…

And vice-versa.

When two Kashmiri truck drivers are attacked with petrol bombs…

Over fake beef rumours…

Or lynchings of Muslims takes place elsewhere in the country…

Or temple politics and name-changing games dominates the headlines…

It only strengthens the hands of Muslim extremist groups in Kashmir…

And plays to their narrative of radicalism.

Hindutva is helping Islamists.

And the other way around too.

Yes, dear Right-wing trolls, you heard that right.

SIX: Education is no antidote to militancy.

When the Prime Minister says…

He wants to see laptops not stones in the hands of young Kashmiris…

Here’s the hard truth…

The laptops will make no difference.

An estimated 164 local militants have joined terror groups in 2018…

Defining a generation of rage.

Manan Wani was a PhD scholar…

Newton a school topper…

Zakir Musa an engineering student in Chandigarh.

Degrees don’t matter.

SEVEN: Voter turnout is not a measure of normalcy.

Yes, voting is often a statement of courage against terror threats…

But Kashmiris vote more for daily administrative needs…

Than a resolution of the 27-year-old insurgency.

To embrace poll numbers is short-sighted…

Because when the numbers drop…

Like the abysmal 7% turn out in the Srinagar bypoll in 2017…

The joke is on us.

EIGHT: Television news is the single biggest enemy of Kashmir.

Hashtag warriors and their hyper nationalism…

Their lazy and dangerous slotting of people into…

Nationalist and anti-national…

Their vilification of Kashmiris everywhere…

Has turned them into perennial enemies.

Actually, these self-proclaimed TV patriots are the enemy of the Indian soldier.

They are the real anti-nationals…

Because the othering of Kashmir hardens stances and prevents progress.

Because the longer Kashmir simmers…

The greater the soldier has to sacrifice.

NINE: In this age of polarization…

The Kashmiri Right-wing and the Hindutva Right-wing…

Are turning into mirror images.

Neither is tolerant of another point of view…

And both abuse and slander anyone who disagrees.

Irony Much.

TEN: The old cliches about Kashmir are really worn out.

Can you bear to hear one more national leader saying the word Kashmiriyat?

Or one more Valley politician lecture on autonomy?

Or one more tired speech on winning hearts and minds?

Kashmir needs a new language…

And above all new authors.

And, oh yes, fax machines that work.


Also read: What if Barkha Dutt had joked about Konark Temple’s erotica instead of Abhijit Iyer Mitra?


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5 COMMENTS

  1. She missed a point, which is a major one that Pakistan with its own citizens sneaked into Kashmir is executing all these inconvenient truths in Kashmir. This external force made up of ISI and religious terror leaders is the key reason that Burkha Dutta has been able to collect all the above mentioned ten points.

  2. Roshni nazar nahin aa rahi, yeh sach hai. However, I would not accept the word “ irretrievable “. Statesmanship can restore peace and normalcy. As India moves deeper into its election cycle, the next six months will be as blank as the last four and a half years have been. After that, it is a new, hopefully a better, beginning.

  3. It just makes a lot of sense to limit Islam. Muslims in Kashmir are looking for alternatives to Islam, even if they don’t articulate it. There is no reason why at least some mosques should be converted to temples and buddhist sanghas. Let some mosques be converted to ahmadiyya or christian also, and let the sikhs take the lead in converting as sikhism is a proselytizing faith also. After about 20 years of that, we can be confident that the Kashmir issue does not exist and we can withdraw the troops.

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