Saturday, July 23, 2016

May Your Star Shine Far and Bright: An Appeal for Peace in Kashmir

An Open letter to Kashmiris by Vivek Pereira, Author of the Novel 'Indians in Pakistan' (a book on ISI-sponsored terrorism with a strong focus on Kashmir)

My Dear Kashmiri Brothers and Sisters,

The recent events in and around the valley have stirred our nation like never before. For as Kashmir weeps, most of us weep with her; and when Kashmir bleeds, most of us bleed with her. The bullets, stones and pellets may continue to fly thick and fast but not thick or fast enough to destroy the great bond of brotherhood that exists between us. Being the author of a novel with a strong focus on Kashmir as well as a fellow Indian with deep-rooted secular credentials, I dare address you as my brothers and sisters, for that is what you are.

Today hope manifests itself as a distant star blurring away in the horizon. Terrorists continue to sneak in from across the border with impunity despite the tough security measures in place. Homegrown extremists like Wani have started using the gun to express themselves. A few overzealous or callous police officers and military personnel have sometimes made grave errors and even committed serious crimes that have only compounded the situation. Floods, unemployment and lack of infrastructure have further crippled the valley.

In spite of all this, we need to cling on to that distant, fleeting hope. For things can get far worse from now on. The Pakistani army and ISI are doing everything possible to increase the level of violence in Kashmir. Global terror outfits like the Islamic State, Taliban and Al Qaeda are waiting to turn Kashmir into an extremist caliphate like they have in Syria and Afghanistan where there is non-stop violence including horrific tales of rape, slaughter and barbaric torture.

But our tryst with destiny is not over as yet. In fact, this is just the beginning. Kashmir is at the crossroads and the decisions you make today will help shape the future of your great civilization, the future of India and possibly that of all mankind. Yes, the future of the whole of mankind rests in your hands, my Kashmiri brethren. For if your star shines bright enough and far enough, it will inspire millions of people facing persecution and despair in Muslim countries as well as the rest of the world.

Kashmir is, was and shall always be an integral part of our great nation. When India gained independence, Lord Mountbatten and other British leaders had asked the leaders of each princely state to choose between India or Pakistan, and your erstwhile ruler had chosen to remain with India. This decision was respected by the international community, but not by Pakistan who immediately sent their Pashtun tribesmen to invade Kashmir in 1948. Certain Anti-Indian Resolutions were passed in the United Nations by vested interests in those early times and India was asked to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir after Pakistani troops were fully withdrawn from the region. Both India and Pakistan will never follow the conditions in these resolutions which have today become highly irrelevant.

Over the years Indian-administered Kashmir evolved into a modern region with a firm democratic setup, moderate infrastructure and several tourist hubs. Its growth story left the Pakistanis jealous and infuriated especially after Bangladesh had broken free from their evil clutches. So they chose to wound Kashmir deeply in the past four decades with the diversion of billions of dollars in aid and millions of tons of weaponry which have been generously given to them by the American, Saudi and the Chinese governments.

Your local leadership has failed you often, but so has the political leadership fallen short in the rest of the country. Yes, Kashmir is in the same boat as the rest of India. Politicians have become corrupt, callous and narrow minded. Fascist organizations, both Hindu and Muslim, threaten and abuse us as well as our way of life. Rights are being trampled, freedom is being suppressed. Yes, we must fight these evil designs together, but with the power of words and not the brutality of the gun. We must debate, argue and influence through our words and deeds, and not let bullets and stones do the talking.

And that is where Wani was wrong. For those who live by the gun shall perish by it. Unfortunately, many more innocent people are perishing along with Wani, uniformed and civilian. It's time to bring a halt to this madness and set Kashmir on the right path to peace and prosperity. The choice is yours to make. Discourage stone pelting and militancy, and encourage constructive debate, entrepreneurship and democracy. Above all, you must nurture a secular mindset in the valley that respects and appreciates people from different religious, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. 

Sadly enough there are a few people in India who look at Kashmir as just a piece of real estate and overlook the millions of Kashmiris, their emotions and their ambitions. Some of these have reached the highest echelons of power. They are our enemies too. They are the same lot who do not subscribe to the secular, socialistic idea of India. We fight them tooth and nail online and offline. But our means are just and peaceful. For violence begets violence; and the victors are usually communal politicians, blood-thirsty terrorists or a combination of both.

The union government of India and security personnel must take strict action not only against terrorists but also their own men whenever they violate the rule of law or use disproportionate force against innocent Kashmiris. Let Kashmiriyat and Insaniyat be the guiding principles for the people of Kashmir as well as those who govern them. There are a few things you need to do on high priority. Welcome the Pandits back into the valley, usher in a new era of development there and restore Kashmir back to its former glory. Is this too much to ask?
I would like to end this appeal with a lengthy quote from Nehru's famous speech at the dawn of our independence.
"To the people of India (and its state of Kashmir, I may add), whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.
The appointed day has come - the day appointed by destiny - and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.
A new star rises, the star of freedom in the east, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materializes. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed by!"
Arise O Kashmiris, may your star rise and never set. Here's wishing you unending peace, prosperity and happiness. History shall begin anew!

1 comment :

parkerd said...

It's like Vivek actually feels the pain of the Kashmiris. This piece is very touching and informative too.