A plea for sanity: an open letter to Kashmir

by L Subramanyan

Dear Kashmiri brothers and sisters,

At the beginning let me make one confession: much as I may say, it is hard for me to even imagine your plight over the last 35 days.

To be cut off from the rest of the world, from your families and loved ones is truly horrendous. As an Indian who enjoys all those ‘luxuries’ and one who takes them for granted, you are in a terrible situation and I pray, as do millions of others, that the lockdown gets lifted as soon as possible.

While I do understand your angst about having decisions taken for you in Delhi, without your participation, I think it is time we all retrospect and understand why things happened the way they did and what is the way forward – realistically.

Firstly, please also introspect and discover who has done you in – is it Lutyens Delhi? To some extent, yes. Is it the Pakistani political-military establishment? Also, to some extent, yes. Is it the terrorist-jihadi nexus which is aided and abetted by the Pakistani establishment? To a great extent, yes.

However, the biggest contributor to your situation today is your so-called Kashmiri leaders – the PDP, the Hurriyat, the NC.

These people have systematically looted you and the state, to the extent where your own bank, the J&K Bank, is in serious trouble. These so-called leaders have played both ends of the stick by enjoying the mandate given by you and the exclusivity of Article 370 while at the same time, being in cahoots with the very powers which has been sowing seeds of instability in the region.

But for them the terrorist-jihadi network might not have been there, your young may not have ever chosen the AK-56 and, who knows, your corridors of academia might have produced a national leader, a global CEO, or for that matter, even a Nobel laureate.

Secondly, when you ask for a temporary clause to remain temporarily permanent, do you even realise the regressive nature of the politics that is played out by your leaders. Essentially, they are telling you – please remain poor, ignorant and dependent on the largesse.

They don’t want you to be educated, well-read, economically independent and ready to participate in the building of one of the fastest growing economies in the world. They know that if you choose the latter, their pernicious control over you will slip and wither away and they will become irrelevant.

For instance, I admire Shah Faesal, the bureaucrat who resigned his administrative job for a public life. Faesal did not have to prove his credentials – they are already impressive. All that he did was leave a paying job to an unpaid one, to do exactly what he wanted to do in the first place – serving the Kashmiri people.

On the other hand, look at the other ‘leaders’ you have – most of them are either the elite or have become elite by looting the state. Most of them have their kith and kin studying abroad, on government’s money (the question is just which government – Indian or Pakistani).

They live a life of luxury and mouth platitudes while you prove by offering your children as lambs to the slaughter.

Thirdly, just look at the people who want to ‘save’ you. They cannot even save themselves. The reason why the Pakistani civil-military establishment is raising the Kashmir issue is not because they care for you, but because they don’t want their people asking them hard questions about their own country.

Their economy is in a shambles, they borrow money to pay interest on their earlier borrowings, their much-touted CPEC is just a way for China to economically enslave Pakistan by making it a dumping ground for Chinese products, they have been ‘grey listed’ by global economic funding agencies, and by the admission of their own economists, they are currently in an economic ‘blowout’.

Can these people, who are themselves begging for survival dole, ever help you? And what will be the ‘help’ that they can give you? A small nuclear bomb, taken on loan from China? Think about it.

Have you wondered as to why none of the global economic powers raised as much a finger when Pakistan went to town crying about ‘Indian atrocity’ in Kashmir? It is not as much for the ‘correctness’ of the Indian act, but the economic power and potential of India and its standing in the world. And that is the reality.

Please reflect on these realities. Yes, freedom is important and India is the largest democracy in the world. The reason why our internal disagreements are known to the world is precisely because of that – we are a vibrant, sometimes noisy, but always a democracy.

And when you reflect on the realities, ask yourselves this question: who do you want the Kashmiri youth to emulate, a Burhan Wani or a Shah Faesal?

Please wake up and smell the coffee.

From a can’t-wait-to-meet-you L Subramanyan