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Azadi: The Only Way – Report from a Turbulent Few Hours in Delhi

October 22, 2010

Dear Friends,

I was present and speaking a few hours ago at a meeting titled ‘Azadi: The Only Way’ on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, organized by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners at the Little Theatre Group in Delhi yesterday (21st October). I was not present from the beginning of the meeting as I was traveling from another city, but can vouch for what occurred from around 4:30 pm till the time that the meeting wound up, well after 8:00 pm in the evening.

The meeting took place in the packed to capacity auditorium of the Little Theatre Group on Copernicus Marg at the heart of New Delhi. Several speakers, including the poet Varavara Rao, Prof. Mihir Bhattacharya, Sujato Bhadra, Gursharan Singh, Mr. Shivnandan (?) an activist from Jammu, Professor G.N.Saibaba, Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain – Professor of Law, Srinagar University, the journalist Najeeb Mubaraki, Dr. N. Venuh of the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights, the writer Arundhati Roy and myself spoke at the meeting. (I may be missing out some names, for which I apologize, but I was not present for a part of the meeting, at the very beginning) The climax of the meeting was a very substantive and significant speech by Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Hurriyat Conference (G), which spelt out the vision of liberation (Azaadi) and Justice that Syed Ali Shah Geelani held out before the assembled public, of which I will write in detail later in this text.

The artist known as ‘Inder Salim’ originally from Kashmir, currently living in Delhi, made an intervention by inviting the assembled people to take (with him) the stance of a masked stone pelter for a brief, silent moment. Students from the Jawaharlal Nehru University sang a song, ‘Tu Zinda Hai to Zindagi Ki Jeet Mein Yakeen Kar’ invoking the delights of life and liberation. In conclusion, the meeting adopted a resolution, which was read, on behalf of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, by Mihir Bhattacharya.

The atmosphere, for the several hours that I was present, was absolutely electric. The vast majority of the audience was warm and appreciative of all the speakers. They were patient and respectful – and despite grave provocation from a section that identified themselves as ‘Indian patriots’ and partisans of the ‘Kashmir as indivisible part of India’ position –  that repeatedly tried to interrupt the meeting and heckle speakers, and on one occasion even tried to throw an object at the dias – did not stoop to be provoked by these pathetic attempts at disruption of a peaceful gathering.

No provocative, secterian or hateful slogans were raised by the majority of the people present. The only provocative posturing that I witnessed was undertaken by the self-declared Indian patriots, who were not stopped from having their say, but were requested simply not to disrupt the proceedings.

When their behaviour crossed the limits of public decency, they were escorted out of the premises by representatives of the Delhi Police. The Delhi Police, to their credit, did not act against the majority of the audience, simply because the majority of the audience conducted themselves in a completely civil and democratic manner.

There was no attempt made at intimidation of any kind. Professor SAR Geelani, who was conducting the proceedings on behalf of the organizers – Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) , repeatedly asked the people obstructing the speakers to conduct themselves in a cultured and dignified manner. His pleas were disregarded by the section of the crowd that let its ‘Indian patriotism’ get the better of its civilisation. When things got a little too hot on occasion, the majority of the audience present simply drowned the rude remarks and indignant posturing of the small minority of self styled Indian patriots and champions of the ‘Kashmir as indivisible part of India’ position – in wave after wave of cheerful but firm hand clapping.

While there as enthusiastic cheering and sloganeering from the majority of the young men and women assembled at the gathering, there was no attempt while I was present to give the slogans a religious or secterian colour. When Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that the people of India and Kashmir are tied together by the bonds of insaaniyat (humanity), when he quoted Gandhi, or spoke of the necessity of conducting a non-violent struggle that was devoid of hatred, or even when he said that he wished to see India rise as a great power in the world, but as a power that felt no need to oppress others, he was wholeheartedly and sincerely applauded, by the majority of people present in the auditorium, regardless of whether or not they were Kashmiri.

Yesterday’s meeting needs to be seen in the context of a momentum of different events, which have included public meetings at Jantar Mantar, meetings in the Jawaharlal Nehru Universtiy and Delhi University, film screenings and talks, independently organized exhibitions on the history of Jammu and Kashmir in educational institutions, photographic exhibitions on the situation in Kashmir today that have taken place recently at the India Habitat Centre, while Kashmir has reeled under the brutality of the occupation that has resulted in a hundred and eleven deaths of unarmed or stone pelting people, including children and teenagers. The momentum of this process, which recognizes the urgency of the situation in Kashmir, needs to be taken to its logical conclusion, until the world and the international community sits up and takes notice of the true nature of the hold of the Indian state on Kashmir and its people.We need many more such meetings and gatherings in Delhi, and indeed in every large city in India.

It must be maintained so that even a Barack Hussein Obama, scheduled to visit New Delhi in November, is compelled to recognize the fact that the conduct of the Indian state in Kashmir, based as it is on brutal violence and intimidation, based as it is on a disregard of every norm of the conduct of civilized governance is unacceptable to the world. You simply cannot claim to be the world’s largest democracy and preside over the deaths of 70,000 people in twenty years. You cannot claim to be judged as a democracy and have laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. You cannot claim to be a democracy and have your police and paramilitaries beat children to death openly on the streets, or rape and kill young women with impunity. A state that does so is an oppressive, immoral, occupying power, and needs to be resisted by every right thinking person in the world. The Indian state’s record in Kashmir over the past several decades is not only an oppression visited on the people of Kashmir, it is an insult to the United Nations, to the world community, and to every principle of justice, fairness and democracy. It is an insult to all the peace loving and freedom loving citizens of India that do not wish to see oppression carried out in their name.

This is the message that needs to go out, and is going out, not only from the streets of Sringar, Baramulla and Kupwara, but also from gatherings, such as yesterday’s, from the heart of Delhi, the capital of India. We, who are the friends of liberty and justice in India, need to stand besides our Kashmiri brothers and sisters and say to the world that we do not accept the lies put out by the Indian state and its apologists on Kashmir. That is the true significance and import of the process in which yesterday’s meeting plays an important part. This process will not stop until the world takes notice. The United Nations, and the broad democratic currents as well as the political leaderships of Europe, the Americas, and of every significant power in the world needs to know that hundreds of people, young and old, intellectuals, writers, activists, lawyers, teachers and others, Indians and Kashmiris, can stand united, in Delhi, at the heart of the Indian Republic’s capital, in refusing to accept the continued occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, by India and by Pakistan. That they believe that it is only the people of Jammu and Kashmir who must decide for themselves their own future destiny, peacefully, in a climate free of coercion and intimidation.

As Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Sheikh Showkat Hussain said, all that they are asking for is the right to self determination, promised by India, before the United Nations, to be freely enacted through a plebiscite, in conditions of peace and liberty, without the presence of armed force, for the inhabitants of every part of the undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir – regardless of whether the results of that plebiscite are in favour of India, Pakistan or an independent, united, Jammu and Kashmir that can live in peace with all its neighbours in South Asia.

There was a great diversity of statements and styles  present in abundant splendour at yesterday’s meeting. There was no way by which the meeting could be reduced or simplified a single monotonous statement. Yes, all the panelists, spoke unambiguously about the necessity for ending the military occupation by the Indian state in Kashmir. This does not mean that their statements and sentiments were a manufactured and processed uniformity. The people on the panel may have significant political and philosophical differences amongst themselves, they may even think differently about what ‘Azaadi’ might mean, but this was a sign, not of the weakness, but of the strength and vitality of yesterday’s gathering.

‘Azaadi’ if and when it comes, will not be the parting gift of an exhausted colonial power, it will be the harvest of the fruits of the imaginations and intelligences of millions of people, of their debates and their conversations. The significance of yesterday’s meeting, needs to be understood in this light.

What was extremely heart warming was the fact that each speaker spoke of the fact that the voices of the people of Kashmir are no longer alone and isolated, that there is a chorus of voices in different parts of South Asia that echo and endorese their desire for liberation from a brutal militarized occupation. From my notes of the time that I was there, I recall that the writer Arundhati Roy, while endorsing the demand of Azaadi for Kashmir, reminded the audience of the need for the people of Kashmir not to be selective about justice and injustice, that they must find methods to forge webs of solidarity with all the suffering and oppressed peoples of India. She was heckled and rudely interrupted by a small group of Indian nationalists in the audience, who repeatedly raised the situation of Kashmiri Pandits, Arundhati Roy, when she was able to resume speaking, spoke unambiguously about the fact that she considered the situation of Kashmiri Pandits to be a tragedy. She was echoed in this sentiment later by Syed Ali Shah Geelani who said that he personally stands guarantee for the safety and security of all minorities, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhists, Christians and others in a future free Kashmir. He implored the Pandits to return to Kashmir, and said, that they are an integral part of Kashmiri society. He spoke of the need for ensuring that a free Kashmir was a just Kashmir, and that justice meant that the freedom, safety and security of all minorities, of their property, their places of worship, and their freedom of conscience be given the utmost importance. He reminded the assembled people that throughout these turbulent months, the people of Kashmir have continued to be hospitable to Hindu pilgrims, have set up ‘Langars’ (Kitchens) for them, and have cared for them when they have fallen sick, despite being at the receiving end of the violence of the Indian state.

I spoke briefly, about the fact that I was proud that so many of us had gathered in my city, Delhi, putting aside the abstraction of our politically determined, state given construct of citizenship, and standing, here, now, on the grounds of a concrete human solidarity with the people of Kashmir. I spoke of the fact that there are significant voices, even in the mainstream media who have been compelled to recognize the urgency of the situation in Kashmir, by the sheer determination of the youth of Kashmir to get the news of what is happening in Kashmir out to the world. I spoke of the role played by facebook sites like ‘Aalaw’ and blogs, and the fact that the people of India and the world can no longer be kept in the dark by a pliant media, as happened in 1989-90. I spoke of the ways in which the viral circulation of leaked videos of the humiliation of Kashmiri youth on facebook pages and online fora have successfully shown us what the reality of Kashmir is today. I urged media professionals in the mainstream media to introspect and reflect on the role that they may be compelled, against their own professional ehtics, to play in the pyschological and propaganda war that the Indian state is currently conducting. I spoke of my sense of shame and remorse at the evasive and dissimulating role played by sections of the mainstream media in India while reporting (or not reporting) atrocities that make even the images from Abu Gharaib pale in comparison.

I am ashamed to say, that despite my respectful plea to the media to play a responsible role in their reportage of Kashmir related matters, major channels like Times Now and NDTV once again let the truth down in their reports on the days events. NDTV saw it fit to simply report this historic meeting in the terms of an incident of ‘shoe throwing at SAS Geelani’. A shoe (or some other indeterminate object) was indeed thrown, but not at Geelani. It landed on a bottle of water in front of another speaker, while he was speaking. So let’s at least set that record straight. Arnab Goswami of Times Now, while conducting what he likes to call a ‘debate; on the programme called ‘News Hour’ (neither News, nor just an Hour) repeatedly uttered hysterical untruths, such as the presumption that ‘No State permits the advocacy of secession and self determination’ and that a meeting such as the one I participated in yesterday, were it to take place, say, in the United States, would immediately lead to all speakers present (including, presumably, myself) in being imprisoned on charges of sedition. I have to inform my readers here, that on both counts, Arnab Goswami is wrong. Seriously wrong. Either he is a misinformed idiot. Or he knows that he is wrong, and is lying to his public through his teeth. We can choose to be generous about how he would interpret his motives, and assume he is simply a fool.

Goswami, consequently demanded to know why we were not immediately imprisoned under section 124 of the Indian penal code. Arnab Goswami needs to be reminded, that in United States law, the provisions of the Sedition Act are applicable only in times when the country is in a declared state of war. And therefore his analogy does not apply, as I am not aware that the Indian republic is currently in a declared state of war, as per international law, (unless Arnab Goswami has lost his marbles to the extent that he confuses the shadow boxing that he does on television with a war declared by a state under international law). That, furthermore, the provisions of the US Sedition Law have been declared substantially void by the US Supreme Court ruling in the Brandenberg vs. Ohio (1969) judgement, and of course, by the US Supreme court guaranteeing the primacy of free speech, including ‘seditious’ speech, including the burning of the United States flag, under the provisions of the first amendment to the US constitution.

There have been repeated attempts made to pass a law that would make ‘flag burning’ an offence under US Law. Fortunately, (for liberty and free speech) as of now, these attempts have not come to pass, and currently, under US Law it is perfectly legal to advocate self-determination and secession, if done peacefully, even to the extent of burning or destroying or descerating symbols of state authority like the national flag. Furthermore several constiutions, such as the constitutions of Canada, Ethipopia, Austria and France, implicitly or explicitly, provide for a legal expression of right to self determination, provided it is exercised in a peaceful and democratic manner, as part of the freedom of expression principle.

But the point that needs to be made is larger than whether or not Arnab Goswami is a fool and a charlatan. Yesterday’s meeting was a historic opportunity for his channel, and indeed for all of the Indian mainstream media, to report and take cognizance of the fact that there is a significant section of Indian public opinion that is actually in favour of ‘Azaadi’ in Kashmir. I am not suggesting that this section constitutes an overwhelming majority at present (that might change) but, that it does exist, and that it presents, cogent, precise arguments, that cannot be dismissed, (as is being done by Times Now and its ilk) by invoking the spectre of ‘terrorism’. There is hardly any ‘terrorism’ in Kashmir today (if we don’t count the Indian state and its terror) . The 111 people who have died in the past months, have not died at the hands of non-state insurgents, they have died, unarmed, facing the bullets of the Indian state. The movement for Azaadi in Kashmir has left the culture of the gun and the grenade behind. It fights today without weapons, armed only with courage. If there is a terrorist in Kashmir today, he wears the uniform of the forces of the Indian state, and carries the weapons supplied by the arsenal of the Indian state. To discount the voices that rise in dissent against this reality as ‘terrorist sympathizers’ as Arnab Goswami has done on his channel is to insult reality.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani spoke of the bonds of insaaniyat that tie the peoples of Kashmir and India yesterday. I heard him say this. I was barely five feet away from him. I heard him speak of his regard and respect for the minorities in Jammu and Kashmir. I do not agree with much of what Geelani Saheb represents politically, or ideologically, but I have no hesitation in saying that what he said yesterday, was surprising for its gentleness, for its consideration, for its moderation, even for its liberality and open heartedness. This should have been big news. That Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that he wants to see a strong and resurgent India. I heard him say this. And was this reported by anyone? NO. Was it reported that he was cheered when he said this ? NO. Was it reported that no one had any thing angry to say against the struggling peoples of India?  NO. Was it reported that SAS Geelani expilicity said that he is NOT against dialogue, provided that the five point formula put forward by him (none of whose provisions – 1. acceptance of the disputed nature of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, 2. repeal of AFSPA and other black laws, 3. release of political detenues and prisoners, 4. withdrawal of the disproportionate presence of the armed forces and 5. punishment to those gulty of taking life in the past few months – require the government of India to think ‘outside’ the framework of the Indian Constitution) are accepted as the basis of the dialogue? NO.

Don’t you think that it makes BIG news that the tallest separatist leader in Jammu and Kashmir actually, in a moderate voice, spells out, in Delhi, the fundamental basis of a considered dialogue with the Indian state, while offering it a chance to do so on bases that are absolutely reasonable and sound, and honourable to all concerned? Do you not think that a responsible media organization would consider this a scoop, a major news story?  But that is not what happened.

Instead, Times Now, (and I am waiting for the morning newspapers to see how far this muck has spread) chose to focus on the deliberately staged disruption of a handful of agent provocateurs, our familiar posse of self styled patriotic champions of the continued occupation of Kashmir, who posed for the camera, hyperventilated, and occupied, perhaps no more than five percent of the attention of several patient hours. If you saw the news reports on Times Now’s ‘NEWSHOUR’ programme, you would have thought that all of what happened was their presence as a ‘protest’ against the meeting. As someone who was present through much of this, I am totally, utterly aghast that a lie of such magnificient proportions could be dished out with such ease. I am aghast that Aditya Raj Kaul who was one of the panel invited by Arnab Goswami to the Times Now Newshour show could lie with a straight face by saying that there was no attempt made to ‘disrupt’ the meeting by those who were there to represent his point of view.

Someday, I hope that all of these people, the Arnab Goswamis of the world, find reason to repent for continuing to keep the people of India and Kashmir in the dark. They had better think hard, because the day when they will have cause to repent, is not far. Azaadi will come to Kashmir, and with it, a glimmer of Azaadi will be the share of those people in India who stood by their Kashmiri friends, in their darkest hour.Going by what I witnessed yesterday, there will be many such people, so Arnab Goswami and his ilk had better start practicing how to say sorry, several hundred times a day.

———-

122 Comments leave one →
  1. Panzer permalink
    October 22, 2010 8:07 AM

    The people of India are in the dark when it comes to the oppression of the kashmiri people. THat is true. But what is also true is that u have sidelined the fact that most kashmiri pandits have said time and again. That living under an islamic theocracy will be worse than death itself for the minorities and a throwback to the oppression suffered by the minorities at the hands of the muslims pre-47! ANother thing which you ddnt mention is that Arundhati roy also called Panun Kashmir a false organization and that is when the ruckus started.

    Maybe one day when kashmir becomes into an islamic state with sharia law which decapitate ppl for minor offences and snatch away basic freedoms, you too will repent for hosting that monster of a man in delhi and singing his praises.

    • habibul Alam permalink
      October 23, 2010 10:09 AM

      That is exactly same reply by many in Pakistan about the brutal oppresion of people in the eastern part 1971. But in this case it cant work for the simple reason, free print and electronic media is reporting to the best of their capability about things in Jammu & Kashmir. Moreover widely available access to international media too covering the events. Jammu & Kashmir is a delicate and complex problem and needs careful handling to avert catastrophe.

    • October 24, 2010 9:32 PM

      FUCK YOU Shuddhabrata Sengupta

      SON OF A BITCH
      you mother fucker

      YOUR INTENTIONS WILL NEVER BE SUCCESSFUL YOU ALL PAKISTANI AGENTS

      WE WILL CUT YOUR ALL INTENTIONS TO BREAK OUR INDIA…

      YOU MOTHERFUCKER Shuddhabrata Sengupta

      GO BACK TO YOUR LOVED COUNTRY PAKISTAN…..

      • October 25, 2010 1:16 AM

        Dear Indian National,

        Thank you for your kind and considered words. I was not certain that nationalism teaches nationalists a great way with words. Looking at you comment, I now know the kind of lessons nationalism imparts. Not being a nationalist myself, I am not as fortunate as you are in my ability to use language with the sophistication that you exhibit. I love my mother very much, but not in the way that you suggest. She is a human being, as I hope you can be one day. Pakistan is not my country. I did not come from there, so I cannot go back to it.

        I would like to gently remind you that my attitude towards the elites who rule Pakistan is by no means of the kind that would allow them to employ me as an agent. I wish the people of Pakistan to be rid of the corrupt plutocracy, the fundamentalist mullahs and the militarist generals who have them in their grip. I also wish that the people of Baluchistan, and Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are also able to freely express the wishes that they have of their future. Their desires may take their visions of the future out of the current state of Pakistan, exactly as the people of erstwhile East Pakistan once did, because they no longer had the will or the patience to be oppressed by Pakistani elites. Such a view does not mark me out as ISI-recruit material.

        Trust me, if I were Pakistani, I would write exactly what I have written about Kashmir, about Baluchistan. Trust me, I have friends in Pakistan who are just as used to being spoken to in the same way as you do to me by some proud and ultra nationaist Pakistanis. You share more in common with them, than you realize.

      • kumarpushp permalink
        October 25, 2010 2:38 AM

        Dear Indian national,you are a coward hindu like your gods and godeses,for your kind information India is a not a country but nation within the nation and dalits,muslims ,christians,nagas ,Manipuri ,Bodos ,Kashmiris belong to different nation why they should be ruled by corrupt hindus .when USSR got disintegrated means you are living in borrowed time dear Indian nation how long you people will live under the peticoat of your RSS organisation.time will teach you dear Indian nation.

      • March 17, 2011 12:17 PM

        I wish if they know ,who is their father.Ask one of the X-MP, who is still living.

    • Rahul Roy permalink
      October 25, 2010 3:17 PM

      Dear Shuddha,

      Thank you for putting in this contribution and creating this debate. Wish we could conduct our politics in as reasoned a way as your piece. But unfortunately our politics has become so much about arming the truth that politics itself has become the biggest lie. In more ways than one I felt sad reading your contribution. We can go on debating the finer points of nationalism, communal mobilisation and the hegemonic Indian State but how do you debate — humiliation, violence and death? It is sad what has happened in Kashmir and what continues to happen. It is also sad that we are forced to tread fine lines when we all know the gross injustice that is Kashmir. It is sad that so many Kashmiris of various hues and beliefs have suffered for so long. It is sad that the suffering in Kashmir comes to us divided in several packages. It is sadder still that it is fairly certain that Kashmiris will continue to suffer for a long time to come…with or without Azaadi…that script unfortunately is the way this story will unfold unless of course there is a happy twist to the tale but seems most unlikely if we are to go by the history of this subcontinent. There is this line from Dilip Simeon’s novel which more or less sums up the tragedy of the many Indias — ‘People who cannot live together cannot live apart’. Wish there was more empathy for those who suffer and less politics about ameliorating the suffering. But the die has been cast, as they say, and we have to live the consequences.
      Resistance is a rainbow and sadly Kashmir straddles the brightest part of the red band but alas not in its politics but in the blood lost and the blood taken. Wish there was some way of ensuring that justice would be a fellow traveller of Azaadi in Kashmir and elsewhere but we know the two seldom end up together at the end of the journey..so here is wishing a safe passage for those from within and and to others who may appear to be outside but are not..our destinies are locked together…this side or the other.

  2. October 22, 2010 8:08 AM

    Arnav seriously needs a Great introspection,he will have to decide that either he is a news-anchor or dictator or a state representative sitting in a news channel.He even dont know the basic etics of journalism.Secondly I completely Agree With The Geelani Sahab Demand For the opening Of Dialouge Indian State Must Accept It.I dont Know What Kind Of Ajadi Is Suppresing by Indian State, i Also Dont Know That What Kind Of Ajadi Geelani Sahab Is Demanding I only know one thing that peace of land which was earlier knows as a paradise of this earth at any how must regain its prvious status.

    • October 27, 2010 7:23 PM

      why the sahab? have you seen his early speeches in which he calls himself a pakistani. ignorance is most certainly blissful

  3. shama zaidi permalink
    October 22, 2010 10:39 AM

    we know what azadi means to kashmiris of the valley. now we need to know what it means for the people of jammu and ladakh, the northern areas and pok. just as the male north indian upper caste presumes to represent the authentic indian voice, do the ashrafs of the valley represent undivided kashmir in the same way?

    • October 22, 2010 1:23 PM

      I totally agree with you Shama Zaidi, the right to self determination cannot be selectively applied to the people of the Kashmir valley, it is a demand for a right that should be freely exercised by every part of the undiviided state of Jammu and Kashmir (including Ladakh, Jammu, Kargil, Gilgit, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, etc.) I have no differences with you on this question. People should be totally free to canvas and campaign in a climate free of coercion and violence (from all parties concerned) for remaining with India, or acceding to Pakistan, or being independent.

      • October 27, 2010 7:25 PM

        yes divide the country and let everyone go. you too should also leave whatever remains to be called India , choose a place and GO!

  4. jamal permalink
    October 22, 2010 11:54 AM

    Dear Shudha,
    Thanks for the post. Its very well written and i share and your sentiments. I congratulate you and Kafila for relentlessly providing an alternate and more realistic account of such events in times of nationalist jingosim on the so-called mainstream media. However your article also leave me a little uncomfortable.

    I wasn’t there at the meeting but from your post it seems Geelani in his speech sounded very democratic and secular. Given Geelani’s world view and what the groups led by him have practiced on the ground, should we accept what he says so uncritically? He is the person who has had a direct or indirect role in elimination of several moderate voices in Kashmir. Mirwaiz Mohd Farooq (Mirwaiz Omar Farooq father), Abdul Ghani Lone (Sajjad Lones father), Majid Dar (Senior Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander who went to negotiate with Vajpayee) and more recently Maulana Fazlul Haq who survived an attempt on his life. This does not include large number of cadres of moderate separatist groups like JKLF killed by HM who Geelani patronises. (This has been acknowledged by the moderate groups and kins of those killed. He and his supporters will of course deny it and blame RAW or Indian agencies for these murders). I am not surprised that he sounded so inclusive and moderate. All right wing sectarian leaders do that when they feel they are unchallenged and smell power. But they do it not out of conviction but tactics. I also wonder if he will give a similar speech in Srinagar where he depends on foot soldiers Asia Andrabi. Yoginder Sikand has done an excellent crtique iof his politics in EPW. I attach the link. http://beta.epw.in/static_media/PDF/archives_pdf/2010/10/SA100210_Jihad,_Islam_Yoginder_Sikand.pdf

    My other major discomfort comes from the groups like the Maoist front organisations who have alligned with Geelani. There are several other groups with mass base in Kashmir demanding Azaadi or autonomy but who are more inclusive and secular. Even though Geelani has succeeded in isolating these moderate voices by physical threats, its a challenge for people like us who believe in pluralism and debate to engage with them and ensure Geelanis in Kashmir do not become the sole representatives of the Kashmiri movement. I suspect the Maoist collaborate with Geelani because they have few things in common that are in the realm political philosophy. A dislike for democracy, contempt for any dissident voices and glorification of violence as a strategy/tactics for struggle.

    Thanks once again for the provoking post which made me write these two quick paras.

    • October 22, 2010 1:20 PM

      Dear Jamal,

      I have no disagreements with what you say.I share neither SAS Geelani’s politics, nor that of the CPI(Maoist). I have been strongly critical of both Islamist politics as well as the Maoists, including on this blog, whenever I have considered it necessary to do so. I have been critical (from the Left) of the CPI(Maoist) on public platforms as well. You may be right when you say that SAS Geelani may be saying one thing in Delhi and another in Srinagar. (although going by his recent statements, he has mellowed, and repeatedly admitted that the secterian killings of the past in Kashmir were wrong). I am not here to judge the sincerity, or lack of, or ambiguity, of these statements. I think politically, the significant thing is that SAS Geelani, has to speak a language today that is not secterian. He did not mention the order that he enivsions for an independent Kashmir as being close to Sharia law, or an Islamist state yesterday. He may have done so in the past. But as far as we are concerned, we should assume, and hold him, and his followers, responsible to the ‘evolution’ of their statements. If he goes back on the broad, liberal nature of a vision for Azad kashmir (which, incidentally, among other things, included the somewhat whimsical detail provision of compensation for damages were a believing Muslim to damage a bottle of alchohl of a non-believer), then, we should hold him responsible for that regression. My sense is, the movement for Azadi in Kashmir has gone beyond the persona of SAS Geelani, and while he is universally respected for his integrity and incorruptability, his word is by no means, ‘law’. He, and other leaders like him, are being ‘led’ as much as they are ‘leading’ the people they claim to represent. Part of this process means giving up the secterian rhetoric that people in Kashmir genuinely feel alienated by. We should welcome this development.

      I agree with you regarding the Maoists and their authoritarian tendencies. Were the meeting engaged with Maoism, I would be openly critical of it. However, I do think that one should engage every kind of tendency. I may not agree with the Maoists on most issues, but I see them as a part of the political churning of our present moment, and see no harm in engaging with them. My hope is, that those who are intelligent and sensitive amongst them, particularly the younger cadres, will be as affected by the genuine hurly burly of an open and democratic culture of debate that they will be compelled to participate in, in the course of their broader engagement with different political tendencies. I am happy to engage with whosoever wants to think seriously about Kashmir. If tomorrow, an organization as reactionary as Panun Kashmir were to invite me to speak to them, I would do so, with the proviso that they hear me out with patience. Naturally, the same goes for any platform or organization that is more inclusive or secular.

      I think this is a good time for people with a broad left-liberal-democratic viewopoint to join the debate on Kashmir with as much diversity as possible. So that no one particular kind of voice monopolizes the conversation. That can only be the best possible outcome. I hope I have made myself amply clear.

      best regards

      Shuddha

      • Mahesh permalink
        October 23, 2010 12:26 AM

        Since you seem to think there might have been a change of mind with Geelani:

        http://www.kashmirpage.com/2010/03/syed-ali-shah-geelani-today-ruled-out.html

        This is just a few months back not a few years. How can anybody take a leader who speaks in 2 tongues seriously? I would honestly have no problems with him if he were to be clear about where he stands since I could then counter or even engage with the person and perhaps that would lead to something substantial. But a person who choses his politics according to his audience can never a worthy leader make.

    • Gowhar Fazili permalink
      October 22, 2010 5:16 PM

      Dear Jamal,

      While I agree with the general point regarding Geelani and his politics, many of the young people who have drifted towards him have done so because they see sincerity and steadfastness in him. Besides they do not believe Geelani is responsible for the murders you have just enumerated. I personally feel he is partly responsible though not to the same extent that the establishment has tried to establish. (This will remain a contentious issue until clinching evidence is brought against him.)

      Apart from this there is value in public positions taken by people independent of which camp they may belong to, what they may have done or are assumed to have done in the past. These positions need to be engaged with to push forward the discourse on inclusivity and justice. If Modi makes a speech that couches itself in justice and inclusivity, I will certainly engage with his word. This does not mean that I will turn Modian or Geelanian.

      Evidently, the only intimidation and violence at the seminar came from the usual Hindutva – rightwing ‘goons’ shouting ‘vande mataram’ and manhandling people, who, if they were anything else could have registered their protest either civily by participating in the proceedings or outside the venue or by holding a parallel debate without attempting to disrupt or hijack the programme.

      The worst part of it all was the reporting by the large swathes of mainstream media, who lost any semblence of credibility in the eyes of those who attended the program that lasted six hours intense presentations and included at least twelve speakers from various shades of opinion and connected with a wide range of movements and causes all over the subcontinent. The debate questioned and problematised notions of justice, inclusion, azadi, violence and so on. But all that flashed on the media was ‘Geelani heckled by Pandits’.

    • Samir Khan permalink
      October 23, 2010 1:38 PM

      Right to self determination is the only way to liberate Kashmir from its problems…..Rest of the things you say are all meaningless….

      • March 17, 2011 12:13 PM

        mr.sameer khan. that has been the conception after 1965.in the j&k state. The movement was started by mr.maqbool bhatt………and is going on.

  5. an indian permalink
    October 22, 2010 12:21 PM

    Has Geelani and others who have supported Pakistan sponsored jihadis ever said sorry for all the attrocities they had committed. You want us to forget 26/11 and what had happened in 1989-90 in Kashmir and hail these characters as if these are champions of non-violence and tolerance.Geelani’s politics and ideology is too well known.Read Yoginder Sikands article in EPW.In Delhi he might be saying one thing and in Kashmir he might be talking in a totally different tone. The organisers – they are the ones who defend Afzal Guru and glorify the person who was convicted for abduction and murder of a diplomat.
    If Arnab is terrible you folks are no better.

    • October 23, 2010 12:11 AM

      Who was Bhagat singh and company i wonder. though i reject all sorts of violence be it afzal guru or bhagat singh. No one has the right to take a life. Same goes for all ppl mainstream gunmen/ militants in Kashmir. All are terrorists. Peace lies in the resolution of any issue same goes for Kashmir issue. All humanss should do their bit for peace. It is just a miniscle start but i hope these discussions and seminars will continue for the humanity to prevail and this is the civilised way! the podium. Give peace a chance.

    • October 27, 2010 7:27 PM

      thank god for people like you!

  6. Red permalink
    October 22, 2010 4:35 PM

    I understand that Geelani asked Pandits to return to Kashmir. Perhaps he was sorry for not killing them last time and promised himself to rectify mistake.

  7. October 22, 2010 5:22 PM

    I am sure we can have as many reports as many people who were at the meeting, each with a different perspective. There is ultimately no such thing as one single truth. The bigger question is – what is the logic that drives this dream to break away from India? Is it based on geography, religion, culture……..what exactly? Pakistan was created on basis of religion, the voices seeking free Kashmir have presented the same basis ie religion. If so where will the muslims (the second largest muslim population in the world resides in India) from rest of India go? Where there is an army, there are atrocities…its a no brainer. The moot question is why is there a need to have presence of Indian army along this border state? Who tried to invade first? Lets answer the basic questions then we can think of azadi in its different shapes and forms.

    • October 22, 2010 6:17 PM

      I think you have hit the nail on the head. I’ve had a similar thought process and that led me to asking the same question of Kashmir and Kashmiris. In one word the answer is identity – they don’t identify with India, the Indian Union, the Indian flag. But of course the question then is, why don’t they? We Indians can learn a lot about ourselves and our Indian identity by going deeper into this, and yesterday’s programme was an opportunity to do so. As Shuddha says, one hopes there will be more such opportunities. If only we stop demonising someone like SAS Geelani, we can learn a lot by talking to him and to every Kashmiri, of every political opinion. For a start, AJ, go to Kashmir. It’s already snowing there.

      • Mahesh permalink
        October 22, 2010 11:50 PM

        Why do we have to beat around the bush, why can’t we say it straight? Either we can’t accept the truth or we are too naive. This identity business is all hogwash, religion is THE only defining factor here. How many nonmuslim “freedom fighters” are there? What is Nizam-e-Mustafa? Why are even today slogans against Kaafirs still strong in the valley? If ethnicity is the only factor why is it the struggle for the whole of Jammu & Kashmir, Jammuites and Ladakhis are also ethnically as different from the Kashmiris as anybody else from India. If we are not honest and sincere in our diagnosis we will never be able to find a just and proper solution.

        p.s. Before I am advised I would like to inform that I have been to Kashmir more times than I can remember to count over extended periods and also I am not a Kashmiri of any kind.

  8. Odd permalink
    October 22, 2010 5:51 PM

    Syed Ali Shah Geelani spoke of the bonds of insaaniyat that tie the peoples of Kashmir and India yesterday.

    Really? The same person who also called for celebrating Pakistan’s independence day?

    Colour me impressed. NOT.

    Whether through his own FMD, or the English media’s prism, Geelani seems to be a person with an agenda less of Azadi-for-Kashmir, and more Chipkoing-with-Pakistan.

    Which is a terrible thing for one whose family members and young friends were involved in three of India’s four battles with the neighbour.

    • October 22, 2010 5:57 PM

      So if Geelani wants Kashmir to be part of Pakistan, what’s the problem with that?

      • Mahesh permalink
        October 23, 2010 12:07 AM

        Wouldn’t be a problem if it had been his open and clear agenda. Till a couple of years back he was very open that “Kashmir banega Pakistan” but now he is mostly using the ambiguous “Azaadi.” Of course as recently as last month on a TV interview he said that the only viable option for Kashmiris is Pakistan and had to face a lot of flak from his supporters for that. So, all in all he is hoodwinking everybody that he is fighting for “independence” while his heart actually lies in Pakistan and it is this dearth of honesty which is wrong and should be condemned by people who actually have the good of Kashmir and Kashmiris at heart.

      • Oddnari permalink
        October 24, 2010 9:09 AM

        So if Geelani wants Kashmir to be part of Pakistan, what’s the problem with that?

        AT LEAST half a billion Indians want Kashmir to be a part of India. SO? Can’t always get what we want, can we?

        India has long been bungling Kashmir, I totally agree with that. Even now, the current governments (both federal and state) did nothing but mess it up. Heck, the sheer lack of reaction time was a slap in the face of any person looking to the sarkar!

        But let’s face it, Mr Geelani has been no less than inflammatory. I personally cannot get over the call for celebrating Pakistan’s I Day (bit obvio, innit?)

        I have many Kashmiri Pandit colleagues. Many of them are undergoing psychological treatments even though they left their land way back in 1992 or 93.

        I see their plight quite a bit, hear their stories quite a bit. So when Geelani says oh-hello-fellow-kashmiri-brother-we-welcome-you-pandit-person-join-us as an afterthought, I sincerely doubt his seriousness and his intentions.

      • Vikram S permalink
        October 26, 2010 6:37 AM

        Shivam:

        The problem is that a majority of Indians are proud of who they are do not want their children and grand-children to live in a fascist Islamic society.

        Do yourself a favor and go to youtube or facebook to check out the views of Zaid Hamid, Ahmed Qureshi etc. Do you know what Gazwa-e-Hind means?

        This Geelani is the same character who calls the Shia Gujjar non-Muslims because they do not share his vision of Sunni dominated azadi.

      • October 27, 2010 7:28 PM

        goodness gracious me, there is no problem :O

  9. Revu Naik permalink
    October 22, 2010 5:51 PM

    Yours is the only place where they are credited as “Indian patriots” all other news sources seem to identify them as Kashmiri Pandits. Whatever your reasons for doing so, don’t you find it a little problematic that this is one distinct group that seems to have been kept out of the whole dialogue process? For example did this talk have any speaker highlighting their problems or their view on Azadi in Kashmir? Are they not stakeholders?

    It is no answer to say no one is preventing them from speaking out.

    Also “they are welcome to come back”, “I request them to come back”, “I beseech them to come back” is not sufficient to heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon them. Is there any program that identifies them as victims of targeted violence and accords them some affirmative action benefits or seeks to restore to them what they have lost in the past few decades?

    • rohit permalink
      October 22, 2010 11:13 PM

      not only are Kashmiri Pandits not as marginalized as far as political opinion is concerned as you think, but the very debate on Kashmir is often hijacked by Pandits or worse, those claiming to speak on their behalf.
      one of course wishes them well, but how can a small minority be allowed to block any debate or hopefully, an amicable resolution in the best interest of Kashmiris and the rest of India?

    • October 22, 2010 11:27 PM

      Dear Revu,

      I hesitated to say that they were Kashmiri Pandits, because I do not think all the people who were protesting were Kashmiri Pandits, and besides, there were several Kashmiri Pandits in the audience who were perfectly amenable and in agreement with what was going on, and one of them even made a brief appearance on stage to lead the entire assembled crowd in a symbolic and highly effective performance. So, let us not generalize about who Kashmiri Pandits are, and what they believe. I do not generalize about Kashmiri Muslims. Omar and Farooq Abdullah are Kashmiri Muslims, as are the majority of the SOG personnel who torture and humiliate the people of Kashmir. So lets not generalize about people on the basis of their religious affiliations,

      Thanks

      • Revu Naik permalink
        October 23, 2010 10:00 AM

        Dear Shuddhabrata,

        It is not my intention at all to give the issue a communal taint. Neither is it my case that they were all Kashmiri Pandits. They were holding themselves out to be representatives of the interests of Pandits is the image I got from most other media sources.

        Fair enough, we won’t generalize about Kashmiri Pandits and what they beleive. Can we generalize about Kashmiri’s as a whole then?

    • October 27, 2010 7:32 PM

      ur question in it self is a befitting reply!

  10. dawood permalink
    October 22, 2010 5:59 PM

    Thank u, Thank u, Thank u

  11. somnath permalink
    October 22, 2010 6:51 PM

    Its really stupid of the electronic media to have not covered this “event”..An insightful coverage would have resulted in very interesting analyses of the proclamations made and the protagonists involved…

    Mainly SAS Geelani, whose claims to “insaaniyat” etc are taken at such “face-value” credibility by shuddhabrata..

    So Geelani says that the relations between India and Kashmir is one of “insaniyat”…Interesting, considering that he and his cohorts started the bloodshed in 1989 with the cry of “azaadi ka matlab kya, la ilaha illallah”…

    So Geelani’s proposals, seemingly adopted by this esteemed group, needs to be considered…Proposals from Geelani taken seriously? A bit rich, coming from a person who draws his pension from the Indian government, gets VIP treatment at the Indian taxpayer’s expense at elite hospitals (including transfer to Delhi for treatment in a RAW aircraft!), and still advocates secession from India…Interesting…

    Geelani is a moderate leader looking for a “negotiated” azaadi…Hmmm..The same person who has repeatedly, publicly defended the right of Pakistani lashkars to infiltrate into and cause mayhem in Kashmir…Including defending the chaps who hijacked IC814…Interesting…

    And the other Geelani, of the SAR variety, conducted the meeting with “dignity”…Why not? A person who has the luxury of getting the beenfit of the Indian system to be exonerated on terror charges on a minor technicality can surely be dignified in his conduction of a seditionist orchestra…

    Finally, Shuddhabrata, Arnab Goswami might be a charlatan (he has consitently gone downhill over the years I agree)…But the level of intellectual honesty displayed by you doesnt really disturb the upper boundaries of credibility…The question to ask is not whether advocating secession of a state of the Union is considered sedition in the US..The question is whether it is considered so in India..And the answer is yes…Section 124A of the IPC is quite clear – there is no ceterus paribus condition of “state at war” there….But the Indian state consitently tolerates such advocacies, strident ones, in the heart of its capital! And the Indian media gives centrepiece coverage to such advocacies – I am sure your rant against the “blackout” by the Indian media would have made dear young Arundhati Roy squirm a little bit, given her frequent interventions in Outlook and Frontline? Actually, maybe not…For someone whose first claim to fame was an award funded by (among other things) the African slave trade, her completely erroneous sanctimoniousness about the Indian “middle class” doesnt really show any glimpse of “intellectual” honesty…

    But you are basically right…The media should have covered the event…Would have made for interetsing analysis….

    • October 22, 2010 11:24 PM

      Dear Som,

      Thank you for your response – i have no quarrel with your having a complete disagreement with me, but lets get a few facts straight – you say –

      “…The question to ask is not whether advocating secession of a state of the Union is considered sedition in the US..The question is whether it is considered so in India..And the answer is yes…Section 124A of the IPC is quite clear – there is no ceterus paribus condition of “state at war” there….”.

      Remember, I am not the person asking this question.

      The person asking this question is Arnab Gowami. If he had asked, “is there a law against sedition in the Indian constitution” – the answer would be exactly what you are saying. Yes there is. It is section 124, which is applicable if it is accompanied by the use or advocacy of use of force, or by attempts to breach public order. No one, not even SAS Geelani advocated the use of violence in yesterday’s meeting, People endorsed the courage of non-violent civil disobedience. The only people threatening ‘public order’ during the meeting were the ‘Indian Patriots’ who were trying to disrupt the proceedings, and no, what they were saying was NOT seditious. So, I fail to see how even the charge of sedition, as applicable under Indian law would hold in this case.

      However, Arnab Goswami did not ask merely that question. He asked, “is there any country that allows people to raise the issue of self determination, and would the arguments that were made at the meeting not lead to automatic imprisonment under the Sedition Law of the United States Constitution”.

      I was answering both these questions. 1) There are constiutions that make it perfectly legal to raise the issue of self determination. I named some of the countries which have them. 2) No, such an act, if it took place in the US, would not lead to imprisonment under the US constitution, if the US were not at a state of war. So, it is erroneous to say, that what exists in the Indian constitution is identical to the provisions under the US constitution. I am a bit of a stickler for precision on these matters, and Arnab Goswami could simply have stated that he feels that people who spoke at yesterday;s meeting should be booked under the sedition law in the Indian constitution. He would have exposed his biases but not his ignorance if he had done that. By overextending himself, he has proven how little he knows about the things he speaks only too glibly, and too easily. That is all.

      • rohit permalink
        October 23, 2010 12:09 AM

        this whole question of what is ‘allowed’ in a democracy goes beyond Arnab Goswami. For one, the notion of sedition and the outlawing of any debate on self determination or secession assumes a certain finality to the nation-state at the time of Constitution’s enunciation. But the nation-state is better understood as a process and not an unchanging monolith. In ‘normal’ times, insubordination is criminal in an army. So does that mean that Vietnam war resistors in the US, who disobeyed and even killed their own senior officers, were traitors? Maybe they were in officialese, but weren’t they also acting against mass murder? in short, if the Indian state is the impediment to democracy and justice, then do we not need to rethink the meaning of sedition in that context?

      • somnath permalink
        October 23, 2010 10:15 AM

        Dear Shuddhabrata,

        I dont expect Arnab Goswami to be a stickler for accuracy – as I said before, he has steadily gone downhill over the years…

        But you are missing the substantive wood” for an “Arnab tree”, if I may…The question isnt about Arnab Goswami’s lack of international legal knowledge..Its about whether the Indian state shows an amazing degree of tolerance to what would normally be considered seditious….The platform that you so touchingly talk about had, among others, someone who actively advocates the overthrow of the Indian state through an armed revolution, someone who talks of Khalistan (another secessionist project) and SAS Geelani, who talks of the merger of a state of India into Pakistan…None of these “projects” (naxalism, Khalistan, Kashmir-into-Pak) are “peaceful” by any stretch of imagineation…They are all projects of a forcible, armed, violent struggle agaisnt the Indian state, so this sophistry on how the discussion wasnt advocating “violence” is a bit rich…And this group is provided security of such discourse by the Delhi Police! For most people, that would be an amazing display of tolerance…

        I doubt whether Geelani’s puppet-controllers in PAkistan would allow such a thing in Islamabad…

        • October 23, 2010 7:42 PM

          Dear Som,

          We should not expect this ‘tolerance’ that you speak of to be an exceptional situation in a democracy, it should be the norm. I am not in agreement with everyone who spoke that day. My public criticism of the Maoists is a matter of record. But I think, that every one should have a right to be heard, even those we disagree with strongly, even those who advocate violence. Bal Thackeray advocates violence almost on a monthly basis, and yet, we all listen to him, so why not listen to some other advocates of violence as well. Just because you listen to them does not mean that you agree with them, or act on them. Maybe, the fact that you are prepared to listen may in fact blunt the edge of their appeals to violence. It may be true, as you say, that islamabad, such a meeting would not have been held (though you would be surprised by the discursive vigour of Pakistani Civil Society, say in Lahore, or in Karachi, I also doubt whether it could be held in Mumbai, where it is possible that an outfit like the Shiv Sena would not allow it to be held either, so let us not generalize on what may or may not be possible to do in a given city), be that as it may, should the society we live in seek to emulate such an example. I want Delhi to be a city where every kind of voice is given a patient hearing. I was very proud of Delhi that evening, in that it was evidence that Delhi was becoming a mature city that could listen to very difficult things, said by some very unexpected people. That is what civic democracy is all about. I hope I have made myself clear.

  12. Red permalink
    October 22, 2010 7:36 PM

    Dear Sengupta ,

    What I want to know is, why were the police employed against the people who heckled the Azadi supporters ? If you have the freedom to spit on India, people should also be given the freedom to spit on those who spit on India. Why was the Indian police acting in cohorts with the haters of India ? And please , those who protested against Geelani and Roy should not be dismissed as extremists. They were Kashmiri Pandits – people who were systematically ethnic cleansed by those who today talk of human rights and freedom.

    It is glaring that this Sengupta fellow (and his fellow comrades) shows so much sensitivity towards one side and utter callousness and even thinly veiled hatred towards the other.

    And so Sengupta, just because some people from Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia (who formed most of the audience fawning over Geelani and his friend Roy) want Kashmir to be given freedom does not mean rest of the Indian people want to give away Kashmir as well.

    Infact you are seriously deluded when you say this > “the fact that there is a significant section of Indian public opinion that is actually in favour of ‘Azaadi’ in Kashmir. ”

    Since there is no votary of Kashmiri freedom from “Indian Fascist Occupation” than yourself, I suggest you test your pet theories by forming a “Free Kashmir” party and contest any election anywhere in mainland India (or for that matter Jammu and Ladakh and Kargil in J&K) …… it would be really interesting to see how many votes you get.

    And please, you are deluded to say that Kashmir will ever get freedom from India. Not as long as 1 billion Indians are alive. Keep dreaming though.

  13. Sunny N permalink
    October 22, 2010 7:56 PM

    What is “majority” in Kashmir ? Who decides what is the “border” between them ? The Dogras of Jammu , the Ladakhi Buddhists might want a “partition” . There might be a Serbia/Bosnia like situation. And what about the part with China about which everyone keeps silent.
    The Indian suncontinent has already experienced “Azadi” and subsequent “partitions” . Guess the agenda of the Revolutionary Underground is to support a thousand divisions. The “Mass” has failed to get them to power , so they will add their liberated zone theology to ethnic/lingual/cultural identities. Isn’t Kashmiri identity as much of an imagined theology as an Indian one. A Kashmiri is a patriot while an Indian is a “patriot” ! Which “peace” with what “neighbours” are you guys dreaming about ? With the Afghani Taliban who not even ISI or Pakistani Army can control.
    I have no problems at all with a New Republic of South Asia , but the hysterical mode of non-imaginative delusionary solutions which the activist class of this country generates is laughable.

  14. vyomkesh permalink
    October 22, 2010 8:14 PM

    I consider this constant rhetoric for azadi on following counts:
    a. successful maneuvering by pakistan state in ensuring that people of kashmir are not even remotely inclined to think of aligning themselves with rest of india.
    b. equally successful maneuvering by pakistan state in ensuring that indian govt. always remain busy in tackling problem at home rather than pressing hard for getting back the land which pakistan had illegally captured.
    c. complete failure of successive govt. at center in thwarting such design of pakistan though fully in knowledge about it.
    d. equally complete failure of govt. at the center in ensuring that corrupt-free, efficient and result oriented govt. functions at state level.

    Enough legal documents are available to conclusively prove that kashmir is an integral part of india.

    Conditions on which plebicite was to be held were to be fulfilled by india and pakistan both. Enough legal documents are available to esatblish that pakistan has never fulfilled any of those conditions. All these have been recorded at United Nations. UN has time and again by its conduct shown that plebicite no more possible.

    Hence the base for azadi itself is faulty.

    It has been the weakness of the center that we are seeing such days

  15. Shankar permalink
    October 22, 2010 11:24 PM

    And here come the defenders of the world’s largest democracy, in response to this seminar:

    http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?698294

    Better prepare for jail.

    As said in this very good post, the disgusting response of the media and the mainstream in India indicates just how fearful, authoritarian and chauvinist we are as a nation. We can’t even bear to hear the voices of others; imagine, a seminar! As if that would in itself be the end of India. I think it was Said who said “the empire is always timid.”

  16. navin permalink
    October 23, 2010 12:48 AM

    dig a little deeper – to the left or the right – they are all the same – opportunists waiting to make a killing. sadly the pawns die in this game of power and the pawns are not even remembered or rewarded when the so-called battle is over. simply declare ‘azaadi’ and see the vultures kill each other for power! not talking about srinagar alone, be it delhi or lucknow or ahmedabad or chennai… the story seems to be the same everywhere. news & its analysis has become the favorite pastime of a species which does not have to hunt or grow for survival… so we thrive on politics and media and spend rest of the playing with money:(

  17. suresh permalink
    October 23, 2010 12:55 AM

    I totally agree with you Shama Zaidi, the right to self determination cannot be selectively applied to the people of the Kashmir valley, it is a demand for a right that should be freely exercised by every part of the undiviided state of Jammu and Kashmir (including Ladakh, Jammu, Kargil, Gilgit, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, etc.)

    You cannot stop there and I think you recognize that. There are any number of groups with as much moral claims to azadi as the Kashmiri Muslims. So it will be tantamount to a dissolution of the Indian Union as it currently exists. Personally, as someone who believes in the idea of India, I would not like it, but I do believe democracy to be more important. But let us not pretend that somehow “we” can “control” the process of secession. Once secession starts, there is no saying where it will end.

    This is a difficult situation for those who both believe in the idea of India and also take democracy seriously. Of course, the Kashmiri Muslims (and the Nagas, Manipuris, …) will say that the further break-up of India is not their problem and they would be absolutely right. But as someone who identifies himself as an Indian, I cannot but help worry about it.

  18. waqar ahmad permalink
    October 23, 2010 1:15 AM

    All those people who think the separation of j&k is a division of india i request them to go through the historical facts so that they will come to know that kashmir was never a part of india. Had india fairly finalized and signed the agreements/pacts in 1947 probably, then kashmir would have been its part today either by accession or by merger. In that case the demand for separate kashmir was india’s division. But india held the state of j&k by force so it cant be an integration. The right of self-determination is not applicable to the valley only but all parts of the (pre-1947) j&k. So nobody can stop the people of jammu and ladakh provinces to cast their vote in favour of india. Therefore,all those people who plead on their behalf are not justified if they use them against holding of plebiscite. Those who advocate for the sufferings of kashmiri pandits must remember that kashmiri muslims suffered ten times more at the hands of indian military. But that does not mean we will blame pandits for that. Innocent law abiding citizens were tortured and killed at random by indian forces. If a house of a pandit was burnt he got a full compensation from the govt and then again fetched a handsome amount for the same house by selling the burnt structure while as, our whole colonies were burnt if a militant was found somewhere in lane n not a single paisa was given in compensation. Instead the permission for reconstruction was given with difficulty. It is absurd if anyone here in kmr blames pandits for all these sufferings. Thousands of people are missing. Meet the relatives of these disappeared persons they will tell you that it’s the innocence of their near and dear ones that makes them difficult to believe that they would have been killed by army. Even the discovery of mass graves near army camps in Baramulla district and else where doesnt stop these devastated peopl to accept the obvious fact? Look into their blank eyes even a hard hearted person feels a painful cramps.Mass rapes took place, how can a woman who, opposes the independent kashmir above in her comment, justify these rapes ? A military strategy. Isnt it ? Disgusting. Quoting S. Jhonson is most appropriate here. He says, “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrel”.

  19. October 23, 2010 1:43 AM

    Prashant Bhushan: There is no question of Roy and Gilani being liable to criminal proceedings for their speeches as a constitution bench of the Supreme Court clarified in 1962 in Kedar Nath vs State of Punjab that nothing would be sedition unless there was a call for armed revolt or for use of violence.”

    Read more: ‘We shouldn’t be afraid of azadi’ – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/We-shouldnt-be-afraid-of-azadi/articleshow/6795947.cms

  20. an indian permalink
    October 23, 2010 3:57 PM

    Will these groups supporting azadi in Kashmir will ever organize a meeting in support of demands of Baluch people for their right to self-determination.Will Geelani from J&K or SAR Geelani at Delhi address such a meeting and support this. How many muslim groups in India are willing to support Kurds in their struggle or condemn the genocide in Darfur or condemn the human rights records of Pakistan in the part of Kashmir under its control. What happened in Swat Valley and how did the Pakistan army behave there. Did any of the muslim groups come to streets protesting the human rights violations by Pakistan in POK.Did these self-styled human rights groups who shed tears about Kashmiris ever organise a meeting to condemn Pakistan for its record in POK. So all this big talk about azadi and self-determination is just to support demands of some anti-India groups in J&K and nothing else.

    • October 23, 2010 7:35 PM

      Dear Indian,
      Actually, in my intervention at the meeting at LTG, I did explicitly mention the struggles of the Baluch people against the State of Pakistan. And I totally agree with you about the situation of the Kurds, in Iran, Iraq and Turkey and about Darfur. I strongly condemn every violation of human rights in Pakistan, and I have many friends who work as tirelessly in Pakistan to defend human rights against a corrupt and tyrannical state machinery, just as their peers do in India. I am by no means suggesting that the people of POK are in paradise, I consider their struggle against the domination of the elites who run the Pakistani state the right to self determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I am not a nationalist, but I am not anti-India. I believe that India’s future as a state, and as a society, lies, not in dominating other societies, but in living in peace and amity with everybody in the neighbourhood. If you are an Indian patriot, as I presume you are, then you should realize that withdrawing from Kashmir is in India;s best interests, because then, steps can be taken to demilitarize all of South Asia, and usher in an era of peace and good neighbourliness in our region. That should be the goal of every ‘pro-India’ person.

      regards

      Shuddha

      • somnath permalink
        October 24, 2010 8:42 PM

        “withdrawing from Kashmir is in India;s best interests, because then, steps can be taken to demilitarize all of South Asia, and usher in an era of peace and good neighbourliness in our region. ”

        Surely Shuddhabrata, you cant be serious! So if India “vacates” Kashmir, thats the end of hostilities from Pak?! What did 26/11 have to do with Kashmir? What did the numerous bomb blasts in Mumbai have to do with Kashmir? What has the Paki “strategic depth” policy in Afghanistan got to do with Kashmir? What did the support to Khalistan movement have to do with Kashmir?

        The stated goal of LeT, Pakistan’s favourite proxy in its Kashmir policy, is to fly the green flag over Red Fort..

        Even certified Wagah candlewallahs like Kuldeep Nayyar dont subscribe to this view anymore, surely an academic can apply a bit more logical thought?

  21. Vicharak permalink
    October 23, 2010 6:50 PM

    I wonder if my comment will appear but let me tell the author and his ilk that attempts like these will not succeed. India, for all its faults has produced patriots who have sacrificed all they had to protect its dignity. This is not the India of 1947 where the muslims can get a piece of our country by holding a gun to our head. We will fight to protect the integrity of our nation and we will win. If it takes lives, so be it. The Kashmiri separatists will find out soon (to their horror) that the indian muslims and “secular and liberal” hindus can’t help them because the patriots outnumber the traitors and heavily so. RSS is slowly but surely making its way to hindu mind and hearts. India stands united and it will forever, come what may.
    Vande Materam.

    • Gowhar Fazili permalink
      October 23, 2010 8:59 PM

      This is not an RSS site dear friend. See the comment did appear!

  22. Ron permalink
    October 23, 2010 10:00 PM

    Dear Shuddhabrata Sengupta

    Kashmir Solution :

    No Plebiscite BUT trifurcation with Kashmiri part getting independence.

    Reasons:

    1) Lets see what you wrote:

    She was echoed in this sentiment later by Syed Ali Shah Geelani who said that he personally stands guarantee for the safety and security of all minorities, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhists, Christians and others in a future free Kashmir. He implored the Pandits to return to Kashmir, and said, that they are an integral part of Kashmiri society. He spoke of the need for ensuring that a free Kashmir was a just Kashmir, and that justice meant that the freedom, safety and security of all minorities, of their property, their places of worship, and their freedom of conscience be given the utmost importance.

    63 years age a certain Jinnah said similar things.
    and we know what happened to minorities in Pakistan……….

    What liberals are doing is condemning the kashmiri minorities (including islamic minority sects) to complete persecution in a free kashmir

    2) In a setting like Delhi with a largely educated secular crowd what do u think Mr. Syed Ali Shah Geelani would have said?? He is a cunning politician after all.

    3)Lets see what Yoginder Sikand says…
    http://beta.epw.in/static_media/PDF/archives_pdf/2010/10/SA100210_Jihad,_Islam_Yoginder_Sikand.pdf

    “”In contrast to many other Kashmiri Muslims, including Kashmiri
    Muslim ethno-nationalists, however, Geelani, like the Jamaat-e Islami of Jammu and Kashmir and several other Islamist
    groups active in the region, passionately advocates Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan and has been consistently opposed to the project of an independent Jammu and Kashmir. The slogan of azadi or “independence” that fired the imagination of many Kashmiri Muslim youth is given an entirely different twist by Geelani. For him, it does not mean, as it literally does and as many other Kashmiri Muslims take it to be, “freedom” from Indian rule and an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir, but, rather, independence from India and accession with Pakistan. Throughout Nava-e Hurriyat Geelani evokes the slogan of azadi but interprets it to mean both accession to Pakistan as well as unrelenting opposition to an independent Jammu and Kashmir. It is as if only by joining Pakistan that Kashmir can find azadi, the term here being reduced simply to anti-Indianism or freedom from Indian rule. Arrogating to himself the right to represent and speak for the entire anti-Indian constituency in Kashmir, completely
    silencing the substantial pro-independence (as well as the minority pro-India) voices among the Kashmiri Muslims, he declares,
    “There can be no two opinions on the fact that the entire struggle of the Kashmiri people is for the sake of Islam and for accession to Pakistan” (p 119). Islam and Pakistan are thus conflated
    with, and projected as inseparable from, each other. Conversely,
    pro-independence Kashmiri ethno-nationalists (as well as, of course, pro-Indian Muslims and non-Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir) are by definition treated, in Geelani’s scheme of things, as being opposed to Pakistan as well as to Islam.
    Throughout the book Geelani stresses that Kashmir must join Pakistan,
    and he offers various reasons for this, besides the principles
    mentioned earlier regarding the rules that princely states were to abide by in choosing between India and Pakistan. These follow from his particular understanding of Islam and of Muslim communal identity, shaped particularly by his ideological mentor, Syed Abul Ala Maududi (d 1979), the founder of the Islamist Jamaat-e Islami.””

    Any idea who this Syed Abul Ala Maududi is????

    Read on:

    http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/images/briefhistoryofislamism.pdf

    Geelani is a hardcore ISLAMIST!!!

    We must look for a just solution to Kashmir problem with Ladakh(buddhist majority) and Jammu(hindu majority) with India…..

    4)Lastly Dont underestimate the clerical class among the muslims just like Jinnah did.

    • Sunny N permalink
      October 24, 2010 6:49 AM

      Ron you seem to be the only one here with some sense of strategic reality. These characters here are of those variety who have always felt that minority communalism or sectarianism is Azadi ! Indian subcontinent is like a tropical forest with incredible diversity in the same geography , howsoever local. The Laldengas on MNF were voted out last election in Mizoram . The delusions of power the intellectuals here attribute to the Indian State and not to its communities is laughable at the least. These same characters will keep talking against Khaps and RSS but will glorify sub-regional “identities” . We don’t even have a “national” language and each so called state has at least 5-15 languages spoken by more than 1% of the population. These absolutely western nation-state notions have no answers for us. Neither does the European Union. With 4000 communities in “India” and surrounded by states which are either “Communist” or “Islamic” or “Militarily-ruled” these intellectual delude themselves of South Asian “peace” . None of the other states of South Asia and above all China have ever shown any sensitivity to minorities . North-east alone has 150 tribal communities with Ahoms and Nagas the most aggressive , you just have to hear the inter-tribal crossfire to understand how complex this sub-continent is.
      These same guys here glorifying the dissolution of the Indian state are of the tradition who have been soothsaying this like Churchill since 1947. The materialist dialecticians and now effete post-modernists are unable to get beyond their seminars and the only sense of power they get is through media and joining “struggles” that are as Communitarian as Hindutva or more.
      They talk here about the failure of the Indian state. Agreed absolutely. All states in history of humanity have been formed by fiat of few or war. Do these guys have a paradigm which is better. None at all. Bhutan is an Indian protectorate. Kingdoms or States have always had layers of equations with sub-states , kingdoms. Some such can be evolved by the valley. I have not read till today what does this abstract concept “Azadi” entail. These valley Kashmiris should be happy that the Pashtuns did not take them over in 1947. The Indian Army saved them so they could get to talk Azadi in a Delhi seminar in 2010. The Pakistani Army has to get even for the Bangladesh liberation.
      And let me see a coalition of Independent Communities of The “Kashmir” from all regions asking for this “Azadi” . Then the Indian public will have a sense that these Srinagar elites are not just another sub-regional elite out to create another enclave of power which has any ideals different from Islamism.
      Neither religion or language can work as a separation agenda , let us see their new radical model of democracy. I then will agree that there is a possiblity that in this subcontinent these university and European funded intellectuals have some real following on the ground !

      • Vijay permalink
        October 25, 2010 8:19 PM

        I have spent going through this article and most of the reply given here , and , and I had just about given up on hearing from somebody who can think of the future and not how much they want to consume now .Thank you god I came across your comments .

        In the current global scenario this talk of azaadi is absurd . Nobody will gain by it (perhaps India will, not having to give away sooo much for free). The fact that the kashmiri people have suffered for the past 20 odd years is because mainly caused by the increased numbers in Indian armed forces ,lets leave out the rest of the reasons. And why did these numbers go up?? I think you can answer for that . Now, if they want to bring those numbers down,through non-violent actions of stone pelting ,in whose advantage will that be? So instead of making a better future for themselves and their generations , and in turn help the country to achieve its dream of unity in diversity ,a convention is held for people to satisfy their intellectual needs.

        And those who say this azaadi is for identity, how many people knew Ambani before Dhirubhai, or the tata before jamshetji or gujrat before its economic raise or bangalore before IT , not only economic be it in any field. If the Kashmiris want Identity in India :
        1> earn it.
        2> prosper , grow , better yourself . Identity will come to you.
        call for Azaadi is a mask used by people who cant work.
        Do you expect us to believe that people who burn down schools will be your future. Have some of these people imagined what will happen if the cash inflow from delhi stops . All the trucks from punjab stops etc etc .. look at Bangladesh even after 40 years hardly anything has changed except perhaps their cricket team is ranked higher than kenya now. The idea is Absurd!!

  23. waqar ahmad permalink
    October 23, 2010 10:13 PM

    Dear Vicharak,
    You must not wonder now because your comment is very much posted here. Your words not only show your intolerance to liberal and secular society but also contain an implicit threat. But i dont think peace loving people like myself who, believe in non-voilence and mutual respect might be feeling threatened. Do you know why ? Because people like you who, spread hate from their homes dont have courage to face the real world. Moreover, it is your whim if you think the people of kashmir are expecting any help from anyone in their struggle for freedom. Therefore, no chance of any amazement or horror. Finaly, if your analysis is correct that RSS is making its way into the minds and hearts of majority of people in india then balkanization of this unique and beautiful country is certain.

    • Vicharak permalink
      October 24, 2010 7:52 AM

      I am sorry if my words were sharp or felt threatening. The article and comments teeming with hatred towards my country worked me up. There is certainly no need for any Indian to fear as long as he realizes that his/her future is no different from the future of our nation. One thing has to be understood clearly. We Indians (those who love their nation) will protect the integrity of our country, peacefully and amicably if possible, with bloodshed and mayhem if necessary, but we will, at all costs.

  24. Mudasir Ahmad Yatoo permalink
    October 23, 2010 11:01 PM

    The time is very near when indian public is going to have the real picture of Kashmir. That aspect is very important for the struggle of Kashmiris.

  25. somnath permalink
    October 24, 2010 10:51 AM

    The entire discourse on the lines of “lets give azaadi” to the Kashmiris, they want it” would be touching in at least in its innocent naivete had it not been for the serious repercussions of the action itself…For Shuddha, shivam et al who do, a few points to consider..

    The demand for azadi in J&K is restricted to only one group, ie, the sunni valley muslim..They are a numercial majority (or at least near majority) in J&K, so if it came to numbers they “win”…But then, the valley muslim is a miniscule % of India’s muslims, and an even smaller % of India’s population!! Now, in case the idea is of “freedom for self determination”, one would need to extend it to the Ladakhi buddhists, Jammu hindus and shias, and of course to Kashmiri pandits..So the “azaad” J&K state would need separate azaad conclaves of Jammu, Ladakh, and for good measure, an azaad habba kadal in the heart of Srinagar for the pandits!!!

    The principle extended to the whole country would set up interesting possibilities…Mumbai would surely want azaadi from Maharashtra, and South Mumbai most likely would from the rest of Mumbai..Bandra (personal opinion: the most liveable part of mumbai) would almost 100% ask for azaadi from both South Mumbai and the rest of the suburbs…

    All this, for the whims of a few lakh kashmiri muslims?!!

  26. PlayfulGuisse permalink
    October 24, 2010 4:25 PM

    When “Freedom” becomes an abstract thought not given to clear quantification and basis, it becomes anarchic. What “freedom”, where does it “begin” and “end”… are indian muslims “free”?, are hindus?, or sikhs, or bengalis and keralites, or keralite aiyar? where and how is “freedom” to be delivered to a mind that is convinced that it is not “free”?

    Or is state a loose idea to begin with in which everyone participates at will, and can choose not to, at will? I’m not absolving the state from the excesses, force, or authority it represents, but when state has performed democratically, albeit with hiccups, can the locals be absolved from taking responsibility?

    And Is there a full an complete participation from all state representatives? Popular upsiring must be representative, no? Or is it enough for a sizable section to impose its will on minorities. When Hindus do it, it’s not acceptable. when Sikha id it in Punjab, it was not acceptable. So why is it in Kashmir?

  27. Rahul permalink
    October 24, 2010 4:44 PM

    “If you are an Indian patriot, as I presume you are, then you should realize that withdrawing from Kashmir is in India;s best interests, because then, steps can be taken to demilitarize all of South Asia, and usher in an era of peace and good neighbourliness in our region. That should be the goal of every ‘pro-India’ person.”

    Can you explain how demilitarization of SA is linked with independence of Kashmir?
    There are many bones of contention that the Pak establishment has with India along with the water dispute,Indias role in Afghanistan etc – Kashmir is one of them. Even the recent floods in Pakistan were blamed on India. This makes sense from the Pak army establishment point of view because playing up the India bogey strengthens their hold on the domestic political narrative of Pak. So even if India accepts the Pakistan establishments line in every single dispute, the demilitarization of SA is unlikely to happen.
    There has been books by Pak journalists about how the army has financed the islamic project in Kashmir and tried to destroy the secular movement.
    IMHO until and unless there is a broad based democratic govt in Pak the talk of demilitarization of SA is a non starter.

  28. Rohini Hensman permalink
    October 24, 2010 7:24 PM

    It is worth looking at Rosa Luxemburg’s observations on the right of nations to self-determination:

    ‘The “nation” should have the “right” to self-determination. But who is that “nation” and who has the authority and the “right” to speak for the “nation” and express its will? How can we find out what the “nation” actually wants? Does there exist even one political party which would not claim that it alone, among all others, truly expresses the will of the “nation,” whereas all other parties give only perverted and false expressions of the national will? All the bourgeois, liberal parties consider themselves the incarnation of the will of the people and claim the exclusive monopoly to represent the “nation.” But conservative and reactionary parties refer no less to the will and interests of the nation, and within certain limits, have no less of a right to do so. The Great French Revolution was indubitably an expression of the will of the French nation, but Napoleon, who juggled away the work of the Revolution in his coup of the 18th Brumaire, based his entire state reform on the principle of “la volonté generale” [the general will].

    In 1848, the will of the “nation” produced first the republic and the provisional government, then the National Assembly, and finally Louis Bonaparte, who cashiered the Republic, the provisional government, and the national assembly. During the [1905] Revolution in Russia, liberalism demanded in the name of the people a “cadet” ministry; absolutism, in the name of the same people, arranged the pogroms of the Jews, while the revolutionary peasants expressed their national will by sending the estates of the gentry up in smoke. In Poland, the party of the Black Hundreds, National Democracy, had a claim to be the will of the people, and in the name of “the self-determination of the nation” incited “national” workers to assassinate socialist workers.’

    • October 25, 2010 1:28 AM

      Dear Rohini,

      Thank you for sharing Rosa Luxemburg on nationalism. Needless to say, I agree with these sentiments entirely. I do not believe in the nation-state, and for me, setting up one nation state in place of another is not a solution to anything. However, I also do not believe that when a nation-state acts as a colonizing power, oppresses a territory and its people to the point of desparation that is current in Kashmir, there is very little that the people of that territory can do other than hope for separation. One does not have to believe in the institution of marriage to accept that sometimes, divorce may be a necessity and a good thing, especially when confronted with an abusive and bad marriage. I believe that it is time to accept the possibility of divorce between india and Kashmir. I have always told my Kashmiri friends, and written as much, that the setting up of an independent Kashmir will bring with it, its own set of tragedies and mistakes, just as independent India was never, and could never be ‘Free India’. But in the case of Kashmir, I think there is an urgency to the matter of ending the militarized occupation of the valley, which has resulted in far too great a loss of human life to be tolerable any longer. I no longer believe that the matter can be resolved within the fetish of the Indian constitution. And frankly, the problem is that if the majority of the people of Kashmir do not want it to be resolved in this way, then there is no way I can morally justify the continued arrangement. There is only one way out of this, which is to hold a plebiscite. Were there to be a plebiscite, It would be not up to me or you to decide, it would be up to the people of Kashmir. And yes, I know that the ‘national will’ is an abstraction, and can be anything for any purposes, but we can determine (through such a plebiscite) what a democratic majority wants, and at the same time, ensure that the wishes of the majority do not trample the rights of the minority that might differ. Perhaps there may be forms of dual nationality that could be bridges, in terms of citizenship, for some of the population. I think we have to think outside the box, I know, no nation-state like solution will be, or even can be perfect, but I believe we must try and think of as many options as possible. What I do know is that the current situation, of J & K being a part of the Indian Union against the wishes of the majority of its population, is untenable, and can only lead to greater suffering, lets have a plebiscite and be done with it.

      I know and admit that my response to you is not a satisfactory one. But I cannot honestly think of what could be a way out. I am prepared to accept that by endorsing the call for Azadi, I risk being seen as endorsing the nationalism that i abhor. But, I do not know what to say in the face of the rage and sadness that is in Kashmir today. And so, I accept that I can and must be in a fundamental way, both ‘speechless’ and at the same time incoherently articulate about Azadi, in other words, I do not agree with nationalism, but I cannot oppose the articulation that most Kashmiris make of their desire for self determination. I know that there are voices critical of the Indian occupation in Kashmir that are also critical of Kashmiri Nationalism (both secular and islamist) but those voices are currently fragile, I hope that they will gain strength one day. Meanwhile, my plea to Kashmiri pro-Azaadi people is at least to deepen and texture their slogan for Azaadi by saying that it can be meaningful only if the state of independent Kashmir is one that is remarkably different from all other states, by abandoning a standing army, by arguing for demilitarization, by being a zone of openness for all of south Asia. This may sound bizarre to most, but I think that it is a plea worth making, and when I tell Kashmiris that I support Azadi for them, I simultaneously let them know that I hope that they will enact their Azadi in a way that is unique, by abandoing a state with standing armies for instance. By ushering in a social order that recognizes the place of all kinds of minorities, ethnic, religious, sexual. I let them know that if Azadi were to come without all these features, I would be its first and severest critic, because I am not beholden to the idea of the nation-state, and so, judge every state by its conduct, not by the colours it wears on its sleeve. I hope you understand what I mean.

      Anyways, thank you for remembering Rosa Luxemburg.

      best

      Shuddha

      • Rohini Hensman permalink
        October 25, 2010 4:31 PM

        Dear Shuddha,

        I am in full agreement with you about the need for Kashmiris to be free from the brutal oppression they suffer now at the hands of the Indian state. But I feel we need to think through the alternatives very carefully. And in that context, I feel it was a grave mistake of the organisers to invite SAS Geelani to represent the argument for ‘azadi’, given that he is known to be a hard-line Islamist. Would one support an azadi in which, for example, rape victims were flogged or stoned to death for adultery unless they could produce four men to to testify in their favour? I certainly would not. Similarly in Northern Ireland, women who were fully opposed to the presence and brutality of British troops were nonetheless not sure that they wanted to be part of Catholic Ireland, where divorce, contraception and abortion were illegal, even for a child who was the victim of rape, even for a woman whose life would be at risk if she proceeded with a pregnancy. So the first necessity is to define azadi (or the Kashmiri ‘nation’) in a manner that makes it clear that it means equal rights for all and freedom of expression, association, religion, peaceful assembly, etc, which will allow workers, women, minorities, etc. to struggle for their rights within it: there should be ‘self-determination’ for ALL THE PEOPLE of Kashmir, not for a ‘nation’ defined by patriarchal, authoritarian men. Secondly, unless azadi were accompanied by some limited internationalist development, like a visa-free South Asian Union or Confederation, Kashmiris in a separate Kashmir would be cut off from both India and Pakistan. What would happen to all the lakhs of trade unionists there who belong to the New Trade Union Initiative? Would they be allowed to attend meetings in India, or even belong to a union that was initiated when they were part of India? As of now, even getting speakers from Pakistan to a conference in India is so difficult: will it become equally difficult to get speakers over from Kashmir?

        I am sure you will not disagree with any of this, any more than Rosa Luxumburg disagreed that socialists should oppose all oppression, including the oppression of one nation by another!

        Best wishes,
        Rohini

  29. waqar ahmad permalink
    October 25, 2010 12:54 AM

    Dear Somnath,
    I fail to understand what actually you mean by comparing the % of kashmiri muslims with % of indian muslims ? As far as your mumbai example is concerned, it is not justified because india has always considered people of mumbai or Mahrashtra as indians and has done everything to raise their standard of living. India has never sent its central forces to kill mahrashtrians if they ever protested for hike in electricity bills. Neither has india thrusted its govts on the people of mahrashtra. I dont think any mahrashtrian who protested against its govt would have been ever arrested and labeled as paki agent and kept in captivity for years without any trial.Whatever money has been raised from the tapped natural resources of Mahrashtra has been utilized for the development of state and has not gone to unknown central funds ( except taxes). Moreover, mumbai is a part of mahrashtra and mah is a part of india,no dispute in that.So how come Mahrashtrians will feel alienated from india and ask for azaadi ? As far as human nature is concerned, they will not. Well,now if you abuse their rights and interfere even into their local communities then in that case,my dear friend,they will definitely ask for azaadi. The abuse of the rights of people is a biggest crime and a main reason for alienation, particularly, when the area is sensitive because of dispute. India has never considered kashmiris as its citizens and kashmiris reciprocated with the same feeling because we too are humans and not angels. May i ask you and all those people who oppose the azaadi of kmr here, have you ever discussed what made kashmiris,all of a sudden,to take to arms in 1989 ? Has any of you ever raised your voice against the attrocities done on kashmiris ? Never. Have you ever tried to find out what is going on in kashmir? Had you done so you would have definitely opposed the policies of your govt. Now,when the things have gone beyond limit the animal instinct in you people came up abruptly and you not only began to oppose kashmiris but also to all those people who showed some concern and kindness to us. I dont think who knows what happened in kashmir fo the last 63 yrs will disagree with me that india is herself responsible for losing kashmir. Not to mention peacefully even if you kill (as another friend dear Vicharak has said in his comment) thousand kashmiris each day for years together still you can not reverse the situation in kmr now. When a person knows there is no survival without victory he has no option but to fight. Oppurtinities do come but once or very rarely twice and unfortunately, india has lost them.

    @Vicharak. Now no bloodshed,no mayhem or whatever your obssesion for the (illegal and immoral as far as kmr is concerned) integrity of your country makes you to do can suppress the aspirations of kashmiris for freedom. This is my belief. Rest God knows better.

    • somnath permalink
      October 25, 2010 7:14 AM

      Dear Waqar,

      Comparisons are odious they say, but really they get more untenable in case you dont have your facts right..Lets take some of your axiomatic assumptions:

      1. Yoy say – “Whatever money has been raised from the tapped natural resources of Mahrashtra has been utilized for the development of state and has not gone to unknown central funds”

      The allusion is that the opposite happens for Kashmir? Well, if you did a bit of research, you will find out that for 60 years, 90% of the state budget of J&K is underwritten by the Central govt, ie, the Indian taxpayer..J&K, on a per capita basis, has the HIGHEST central govt investment of all states in India..The results are visible in its social indicators…Maharashtra, on the other hand, contributes ~ 30-40% of central indirect taxes – the state gets only a small portion of it back, and Mumbai (which generates much of that) gets very little back at all! Net net, there is no “resource exploitation” of Kashmir that has EVER happened, in fact just the opposite..

      2. You say: “As far as your mumbai example is concerned, it is not justified because india has always considered people of mumbai or Mahrashtra as indians and has done everything to raise their standard of living”

      Well, my point was different..If the principle of “sefl determination” is to be applied fairly, it should go to all constituent units of the Indian state, shouldnt it? While people of Maharashtra dont want to secede from India, most people in Mumbai would love to secede from Maharashtra, and most citiizens of Bandra would LOVE to secede from the rest of Mumbai…About standard of living et al, please get your facts right..

      About the rest, the litany of grievances..Well, if you look around Waqar, you wont find a single state of the union without galling legitimate grievances aganct the state..Rigged elections? Ask the Biharis – till TN Seshan, that was legitimate part of “electoral strategy” for most parties..Police excesses? Ask the people of West Bengal on how the police deals with CPM-inspired crime..LAck of development? Pick any state, my friend and you will find it..

      But very few, in fact no other state has a section of its populace picking up stones (and guns, and rocket launchers), funded and trained by Pakistan, to demand “azaadi” in religious denominational terms…Which is exactly what valley sunni muslims are doing in J&K…

      And THAT is the reason why this “azaadi” cannot be allowed – the future of 110 crore Indians cannot be laid hostage to a few lac valley sunnis..

    • suresh permalink
      October 25, 2010 10:15 PM

      Dear Waqar,

      The clearest case for self-determination is that this was promised by Nehru. That’s it. If you bring in factors like human rights abuses, lack of economic development and so on, then you weaken your case because this allows opponents to point out that there are other regions in the Indian Union which fare even worse. But how you argue your case is up to you.

      I would like to respond to this statement that you make:

      India has never considered kashmiris as its citizens and kashmiris reciprocated with the same feeling because we too are humans and not angels.

      This raises the chicken-and-egg problem: Which came first? It is true that successive Indian government did not trust the Kashmiris as witnessed by the repeated vote riggings (with a couple of notable exceptions, 1977 and 2002). Yet it is only fair to add that many Kashmiri Muslims, right from 1948 on, never reconciled to being part of India.

      I can fully understand this feeling. Whether we like it or not, religious identity does matter and if one can understand Hindu anxieties about being a minority in a future Muslim-majority Kashmir state (something many commentators keep bringing up), then it is only fair that we understand that many Kashmiri Muslims, then and now, would prefer independence or Pakistan over India.

      I think the Indian government has always felt that public opinion in Kashmir was not on its side. That is why it rigged elections while proclaiming itself a democracy. Even its antics like trying to “buy” Kashmiri loyalty through “bribery” can be seen in this light. Somebody should have told the Indian government(s) that this never works. Some commentators here seem to think that the Kashmiris should feel “grateful” for the bribe. Really; how silly can you get?

      Finally, Rohini Hensman makes an excellent point that the issue of what azadi means precisely has to be addressed at some point. Madhu Kishwar, as far back as 2002 had made a similar point. Her article Why fear people’s choice? is worth reading as it seems to be the only attempt (to the best of my knowledge) which spells out in concrete terms, how a referendum might be conducted. The article is available on this page.

      • waqar ahmad permalink
        October 27, 2010 2:13 AM

        Dear Suresh,
        I fully agree with you that the basic claim of the people of j&k lies in the fact that the dispute was to be finally settled according to the wishes of the people of j&k since it was accepted at that time(1947-1948) by the govt. of india. As far as my statement that you have pointed out is concerned,i have given that as an example what has strengthened an anti-india sentiment in kashmir. Since it was a reply to one of my friends here, i dont see anything silly in it. I never said that people of kashmir are demanding freedom on this point.

  30. Sunny N permalink
    October 25, 2010 8:37 AM

    The Gujjars and Bakerwals say they are nomadic-tribes and are 20% of the population and the Srinagar elite gives them no representation. They also move into the Himalayan ranges freely to HP . These will be the first martyrs of Kashmir liberation policy . What plans do the Srinagar elite have for the economic backwardness and future rehabilitation of these herders ?
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article847259.ece

    These same radical theorists who keep justifying the morality of mass democratic vote in Kashmir and commonly decry how 25% of the 50-60% who vote decide elections are also not at all interested in the complex diversity of the situation.

    Kashmir is going to be the new Afghanistan and Pakistan is the true client state of USA , helping them create Taliban against USSR . USA knows that a democratic India with its CPM’s and assorted leftists will not allow the placement of US air-bases in Kashmir. But an independent Kashmir is a failed-state from the beginning it is formed. Like USA will not allow Pakistani nuclear establishment to fall in hands of Taliban they will not allow China to move into Kashmir – they will do an Afghanistan in Kashmir and develop a permanent base in Kashmir within striking distance of China , the new-cold war century will be in South Asia. The radicals have never been know for long-term strategic thought and what I am saying here has been thought out by US think-tanks , including how to take care of the balkanisation of India or the scenario after a nuclear exchange.
    Many among the Sikh elite of Delhi used to proudly proclaim during the Khalistani movement that all of India could turn communist but not Punjab and USA should help them. The leftists have been decimated in Iran after helping Khomeni and same will happen in Kashmir as the strongest organised lobby with the longest history is Islamic. And how Institutional Islam deals with Sufis and diversity in the South Asian and West-Asia is well documented.
    The Srinagr elite is thinking that it can leverage USA. Pakistan and India to make them dollar millionaires. It is a disaster of huge proportions waiting to happen.

  31. Sunny N. permalink
    October 25, 2010 6:15 PM

    Ruchir at his best ! From anarchist to anar – multiple small realities in slow-motion is the most viable model of change. Great humour for the Perpetual Self-flagellating Enlightened Underground Despairing Oracles (P.S.E.U.D.O) of the Sub-Condiment !

    http://www.telegraphindia.com/1101024/jsp/opinion/story_13091371.jsp

  32. waqar ahmad permalink
    October 25, 2010 7:45 PM

    Dear Som,
    I dont know what is there recorded in indian statistical digests but what i see in the field im telling you on that basis. J&k has potential to produce 15000MW, currently producing abt 3000 MW of electricity and kashmir has a consumption of 550-600MW. Will you believe me that during NC rule of Farooq Abdullah kmr used to get electricity for 1 hr out of 24 hrs. Is this not exploitation ? Railways and defence organisations used to take deodar wood under Rs50 per cu ft.and the local resident had to purchase the same wood for Rs800 til the yr 2000 and nowadays for abt rs1500 to 2000. If this is not exploitation then what is this called? Rigging of elections is ok. It happens everywhere. Agreed. But after conducting elections the centre will decide not MUF but, NC wil rule because centre doesnt trust others. It’s somethng im unable to describe. Thats why i said india never considered kashmiris her citizens with the result kashmiris begin to feel the same and with time ultimately it became their belief that they are not indians. It’s recorded history whenevr kmr has suffered famines,it is due to flood and not drought. Isn’t it amazing tat in most areas of pirpanjal range and kargil district people had to shift to raise cheaper crops due to lack of irrigation facilities. These are the same areas which you think will go with india. My dear friend you have every right to love your country but that doesnt mean you will turn blind eye to facts. You are trying to defend the culprits who are directly responsible for the present situation. The abuse of the rights of the people is directly responsible for alienation. Why wasnt pak able to exploit kashmiris till 1987 ? Even today,do you think the present policies of indian govt can end alienation ?

  33. Smita Singh permalink
    October 26, 2010 2:54 AM

    I asked my husband- a Kashmiri muslim- people are talking about how abstract the term freedom, Azadi is in the Kashmiri context. Would you like to go through some of the arguments? He said, ‘Just go and stand as one of us in the valley, even better take your family along, and you will know what freedom we want- very clearly, all abstractions will coalesce into a very concrete idea that you are unlikely to forget any time soon.’
    Hmm..It seems between guns and graves ideas have a funny way of sounding abstract, bereft of political and strategic sharpness they sound impractical, without viability. A beleaguered people when screaming in anguish, hatred and pain have a way of sounding unpleasant. And we may never find them coherent enough. It is so confusing what they want, why they want it. Who cares about history, besides being tedious, we have our glorious one to wipe out any one else’s. And dare they want freedom because they are Muslims. We have millions to punish for that back home.
    They also cannot supply us with statesmen like responses to questions on statehood, minority rights, ideas of nation- state, viability of an independent state, about Pakistan. All they do is shout Azadi Azadi while taking out funeral processions of their young miscreants who they should have safely tucked into bed like good responsible parents instead of sending them out to throw stones at soldiers with guns. Especially after they saw the smashed skull of their classmate, a bullet hole in the head of a friend’s brother, shells lodged in an old man’s chest.
    They deserve it. The trouble makers. The only solution is to support the state in maintaining law and order and teaching the errant Muslims lessons in democracy and pluralism – sometimes a little corporal punishment goes a long way. Someone also has to pay up for killing the Pandits. They can’t just want them back now. They have to make absolutely sure that all Muslims, in the entire valley and their leaders give guarantee for each and every one to uphold the same tenets of democracy and pluralism taught for so long. Until then, sorry folks, you got no deal.

    • Sunny N. permalink
      October 26, 2010 11:42 AM

      Smita personal narratives are available on every side. For many years I tried to relax my Kashmiri-pundit brother-in-law against espousing hatred against the Valley Muslims as he has never known a home and sees himself as a perpetual immigrant . I have few Jammu Dogra friends who hate the arrogant Valley Muslims and would die rather than be ruled by them. So what is this Kashmir ? Another partition ? Can none think out of the box ? I don’t see anyone here having the depth and senstivity better than the mainstream to offer solutions. There is hysteria on both sides. And these so-called intellectuals are as much to blame as they offer no creative mid-way options which can be negotiated. Maybe we need to form a New Republic /confederation
      and that is where the discussion should be centred rather than simplistic ‘Azadi” .

      • Smita Singh permalink
        October 26, 2010 2:10 PM

        I absolutely agree with you. I studied in Army School in Kashmir and have as many Pandit friends who have an irretractable position on Kashmir as well.

        The Dogra and Pandits would understandably rather die than be ‘ruled’ by Valley Muslims given their own history of legitimizing an autocratic rule over the majority resulting in the crisis we witness today.
        As for no one thinking out of the box, I think the seminar, these discussions, the call to come forth and argue and assemble itself speaks for defining and narrowing and shaping a future vision of what Kashmir and its people aspire for. I believe none of this would make sense if you reject the basic premise of the call for Azadi, the will of the Muslims in the valley to not live under the oppression of the Indian State.

        What if the Pandits had not been driven out? Would you be more willing to listen to what is being said? Would the brutalization of a people, unmarked graves, daily humiliations, random killings speak to you finally of the kind of repression that allows no space, no intervention, no middle ground? You are asking the Kashmiris what Azadi means, I am saying you have no right. We have no right. As long as we have our guns trained on them day and night, we have no right whatsoever.

        If we had any pride, any strength of character we should unambiguously lead from the front In asking, demanding rather, that demilitarisation happen as soon as it can- that AFSPA be thrown out and buried forever. We can’t take away lives, dignity and throw questions, options for out of the box solutions while our army keeps its boot firmly in place. Negotiations that you ask for cannot happen in this atmosphere. What do you negotiate for in such a climate?

        Personally the idea of a nation state as many have questioned is troubling. The idea of minorities getting side-lined very worrisome and tragic indeed if it ever occurs again. But the need of the hour is to remove the most potent symbol of occupation – the forces. Keeping them along the border is not the same as outside your very house, in your markets, school gates, hospitals.

    • Sunny N. permalink
      October 26, 2010 8:54 PM

      Smita do you think anyone on the streets getting killed is a leader or strategist of the Azadi movement ? There are many NRK’s all over the world , there are people on Kafila who think they are the best thinkers to happen on earth , were all sleeping till now ? The leadership in Kashmir for 20 years just shifted their focus to “non-violence” when they realised that violence begets much bigger violence . And getting 6-7 year old children in the middle of crossfire is pathetic strategy . And if you look at the two Islamic states created after partition , in both not only non-muslim minorities but even Shias and Ahmediyas are killed regularly, so just because some people on this site and some seminar say -take our word for it , everyone should agree , and if they don’t they are the scum of the earth. This is classic left strategy. If we won’t talk on anything else except Azadi then what is the negotiation ?
      Absolutely agreed there should be no AFSPA and all the killing is immoral . Then if we are about Truth and Reconciliation then you saying that the Dogras and pundit need to be exterminated for their historical connection with the King and Indian state then you are no different to the Hindutva gang who pick up any number of historical records to show Islamic mass-killing of Hindus .
      I am really sorry but none of you guys are actually open to any dialogue, you have struck off the Indian state and its potential to be transformed.

      • Smita Singh permalink
        October 27, 2010 11:57 AM

        You are most definitely not the ‘scum of the earth’ my friend, nor did I suggest that. As for ‘exterminating’ dogras and and pundits, that’s a little beyond hysterical- this assessment. When enough has been said and discussed about how Islam factors in this call for Azad Kashmir, why should one fly off the handle at the mere mention of the genesis of this alienation and disaffection?

        If you have read the discussion on this page itself, I am amazed how you have not noticed a number of posts and people going back and forth about how to engage with new ideas of existing, what are the pitfalls of creating a nation-state, what will be fair and unfair to minorities and others involved, how can different ideas integrate the aspirations of the majority while safeguarding the interest of the rest.

        You can bring in your ideas on how to resolve this issue as well and am sure it will be welcome.

        As for the shift towards non-violence, I am sure fighting one of the mightiest armies of the world would have taken it’s toll.

        Also, the Shias and Ahmediyas are not killed in my name, besides I believe there must be voices there as well who put a lot on stake to come out and denounce those killings just as some do here.

        Kashmiris in the valley want Azadi. You cannot send troops, silence them for a year or two or ten and declare victory. It’s not working. I am sure there are many many ways to engage with the people in Kashmir, but the first of many of these ways is to address and acknowledge the demand for Azadi.

    • waqar ahmad permalink
      October 27, 2010 2:40 AM

      samita,
      perhaps your husband might be knowing what you would love to listen from him and that is why he has said all that shit. Another reason could be, he is a son of some puppet ministers of j&k or some pro-indian bureaucrat becaue they get lot of concessions here. The small boys who throw stones here are not miscreants. Have you ever seen your father being beaten to pulp before your eyes by the brute indian forces. These small boys whom you label as miscreants are actually the sons of those bleeding fathers…My dear sister it is easy to comment from your peaceful places but the actual pain knows who has to bear it.

      • Smita Singh permalink
        October 27, 2010 12:03 PM

        err..umm..did you read the entire post? Perhaps you just read the last para and that too horribly misread it! Pls read it again and look for something called ‘sarcasm’ ;-) It’s ok!

    • Sunny N. permalink
      October 27, 2010 6:51 PM

      Smita , it was not that someone in UK came and told us to write our constitution. We already have had two partitions , a 25 year old resistance with LTTE which created so much killing , endless displacement of Chakmas in Bangladesh and many other such continuing tragedies . Nagas are divided with majority tribes left in Burma. Similarly Kurds across Turkey and Iraq. Thailand is facing an Islamic resistance in its south. This all is the problem of nation-state as concieved by the Imperial North. They made borders which cut up various tribes and peoples . It is the total lack of imagination to keep thinking along same lines. I would call it complete colonisation of our imagination.

      If J&K leadership had any vision or imagination they would have statesmen like Mandela talking to all constituents. Sadly our whole sub-continent is lacking such visionary humans. All people including ones on Kafila are limited by blame. And blame never gets solutions.

      As Shivam says , create a elected Constituent Assembly. It can be informal. No one can stop a club or association to stop its election. Why are there no parties or movement bodies in all regions which create a separate governance plan for their region. Ladakh, Jammu, Bakarwals, Gujjars, Valley. Why don’t they create a community based Jigra/Panchayat and say this is our decision ?
      They would have thought this if they were not busy since forever , just hating. It is never in the interest of the one in power to think out solutions.

      Let them talk to one another and decide what will be the border of Azad Kashmir , what will be the kind of parliament, what will happen to the thousands of Kashmiris living in India, how will they give back the land of pundits, what will be the status of finance , border control. Just some kids throwing stones don’t create a Nation-state. It is very easy to be an insurgent , it is very difficult to run a state. History proves so. You need Shadow cabinets of all kinds.

  34. October 26, 2010 1:02 PM

    Dear Rohini,

    I am fully in agreement with you. I strongly believe that the time has come for all of us to strengthen the voices and stand in solidarity with those people in Kashmir (and there are many) who are not secterian, who do not want an Islamist state, who do not want Sharia law, and who want ‘Azadi’ to mean a state of dignity and liberty for working people, women, minoriites and all vulnerable sections of society. They want a peaceful South Asia and want to live in peace with their neighbours. Their politics is not identical with the politics of the Jamaat or the right wing Islamist formations, including that of the tendencies to which SAS Geelani belongs. I think it is very unfortunate that the media distorts the plurality of voices in Kashmir into a single hue. I am not, as you know, a nationalist of any kind, and in my dialogues with Kashmiri friends, I have never not conveyed my reservations about Nationalism, including Kashmiri (even Secular Kashmiri) Nationalism. However, I do recognize that the vast majority of people in Kashmir no longer see a worthwhile future within India. This is because of the conduct of the Indian state, and I thnk, regardless of our researvations about nationalism, we have to recognize that the Indian state’s conduct in Kashmir leaves people in Kashmir with very few options.

    Of course, the real work of engaging with our friends in Kashmir to argue for a future that is not yet another ‘Nation-State’ prison begins in earnest now. It would be a pity of an Azad Kashmir were to follow the course of a ‘Mukto’ Bangaladesh, with military coup after military coup and Islamist politics alternating with a statist-populist ramshackle secular so called alternative. I hope that we can all be a part of this dialogue and try and work towards a lasting contribution to a different vision of a future South Asia.

    Thank you again for your thoughtful intervention, with which, I agree totally.

    regards

    Shuddha

  35. October 26, 2010 2:15 PM

    We haven’t yet created a post-national world where there is no country. It’s not as if there all of us here are engaged in ushering into a anarchist world, spending our lives and energies in bringing down the Indian (or any other) nation state, running off to Wagah to dismantle the border. On the contrary we constantly engage with the nation-state – for instance, urging it to be a responsible welfare state. In such a world, we want to tell the Kashmiri that nationalism is bad, that you cannot create one more state? Can we say that and get away with it, knowing all too well that the occupation in Kashmir is being carried out in our name? Shall we call this hypocrisy?

    • Rohini Hensman permalink
      October 26, 2010 6:27 PM

      Dear Shivam,

      How can we create a post-nationalist world if we don’t have the imagination to ‘Imagine there’s no countries, Nothing to kill or die for,’ as John Lennon put it? You may not have noticed, but national borders have been getting ever more porous to commodities, money and capital, but not to people. I believe we should be working for open borders to people, and in fact many socialists are doing just that, as well as working for cross-border solidarity on a number of issues such as workers’ rights, nuclear disarmament and demilitarisation.

      I made it clear that I am as opposed to the brutal military presence of the Indian state in Kashmir as you are. But do you think a theocratic state would be any better as a guardian of human rights and civil liberties? Do you think that campaigning for it would be an appropriate way of showing solidarity with the Kashmiri people? Have you bothered to find out if that is what the majority of them want before you impose it on them?

      I am asking this question as someone who is involved in struggling for the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka, but was always opposed to the LTTE’s war for Tamil Eelam, an ethno-nationalist state from which local minorities, like Muslims, were being ethnically cleansed and massacred, children were being forcibly conscripted into the armed forces, and all dissidents were killed unless they could escape to exile. There were naive Sinhalese human rights activists who supported the LTTE even while they were doing all this, and can you imagine how those who were the victims of LTTE brutality felt about it? The worst consequence of this support for Tamil nationalism was that it allowed the LTTE to lead the Tamil people into the bloodbath at Nandikadal. Some years earlier, Tamil poet Sumathy Sivamohan, whose sister was killed by the LTTE, wrote a poem in the form of a dialogue between a cocky young Tiger militant and a wise old woman on the sea shore, in which he is confident he is heading for a Tamil nation, and she warns that he is heading for disaster. After the end of the war in May last year, Sumathy’s sister Nirmala sang the poem, and it gave me goose-bumps because it was so prophetic.

      That was a case where nationalism did not lead to liberation. Maybe in Kashmir it will, but that is not a foregone conclusion. Isn’t it better to fight for the withdrawal of the military from the streets of Kashmir, the repeal of AFSPA, and an end to the daily violation of human rights there, so that the people of Kashmir have the freedom to discuss and decide what they really want in a more democratic atmosphere?

      • Smita Singh permalink
        October 26, 2010 8:17 PM

        Dear Rohini, thank you for sharing your experience in Sri Lanka.
        for Kashmir, undoubtedly demilitarisation and justice need to be pushed with all our collective might so that our voices become secondary in discussing what the valley and other involved parties want in the coming years.

      • a rose cellar permalink
        October 26, 2010 8:21 PM

        rohini, yes, a few years back, tariq ali suggested something of this kind: kashmir as a place, a zone, and not a nation-state. its specific modalities can be worked out, but first one should be able to imagine a place of this kind.

  36. Saurabh R permalink
    October 26, 2010 2:22 PM

    Shuddha
    I am totally fed up of this nonsense that has sapped energies of all concerned for a long time now. My proposal
    1) There should be an immediate plebiscite / referendum with the following options a) Azadi b) Autonomy c) Complete union with India – The referendum will be carried out under following conditions
    a) Trifurcation of the present J&K state as it exists with Ladakh and Jammu areas getting seperating from the valley.
    b) If any part decides to go for Azadi – the population here will have to choose between Indian or Kashmir passport. My assumption here is that the Valley will be the only area that will go for Azaadi
    c) All choosing Kashmir passport will not be allowed to work in India; nor will they be allowed to study in India. Those already working /studying will be given 90 days to leave India.
    d) Those who have been displaced or will choose Indian citizenship from the valley will be compensated. Compensation will come from the tax collected from the Valley citizens and will be payable within 5 years of Azaadi.
    e) Kashmir will be free to conduct its own trade, financial system, police itself (get Sharia for all I care). However
    f) Boundary and Customs management will be done by the Indian Army – Army’s mandate will be only and only to stop any arms inflitration into India territories.
    g) Non Civil Aviation will not be allowed in the VALLEY.
    h) Indian government will compensate populations of Ladakh, Jammu for the trade loss they suffer due to non trade with the valley.
    i) Access to Amarnath and other specified Hindu and Buddhist sites will be given. This will be on pre-determined numbers and enforceable guarantee of security has to be given
    Lets have complete AZAADI from each other.

  37. an indian permalink
    October 26, 2010 5:16 PM

    The question is not as simple that whether one more state can be created or not.It is the question of who is wanting it and for what. If Mr.Vij wants to end what he calls ‘occupation’ in his name he should also accept that majority of the Indians may not want to end that ‘occupation’.
    Should the Indian state disregard this and concede the demands of those want a ‘free Kashmir’. In J&K itself this agitation is supported by people in some parts. It is one thing to ask for some measures like partial withdrawl of army, cases against human rights violators and it is another to support ceding from India. What is this Kashmiri nationalism as expounded by its supporters. What lies at its beneath – is it a liberal nationalism or an euphemism for an islamic nationalism or an anti-Indian,pro-pakistani nationalism. In any case can Mr.Vij outline what are the elements of Kashmiri Nationalism as expounded now and whether those who want it are asking for one and the same thing. Is there a crystal clear clarity on this in the minds of those who throw stones or of those who clamour for azadi or of those who want India to quit. Who represents Kashmiri Nationalism and who does not. Mr.Vij may say X represents while some one else may say no that and argue that Mr.Geelani is the authentic voice. And there is an elected govt. in J&K. Should that be dumped and only those who want to cede from India be regarded as ‘authentic’ voices of Kashmiris.

    To expect that the Indian state would concede to demands of secession is to expect that billion plus Indians would allow their country to be torn apart many times again and again in the name of nationalisms and azadis. Those who demand that Indian govt should do this and do that should also demand that Pak. should stop meddling and end its policy supporting and grooming groups against India.They should also demand that islamic fundamentalist groups should shun violence and should respect rights of others.If they refuse to do so and again and again complain only about India and Indian govt. they have no credibility.
    This potrayal of Indian govt. as the sole sinner in the Kashmir issue is no longer credible in this post 9/11 and post 26/11 world. World is not willing to be fooled by Shivam Vijs and Agnana Chatterjees.

  38. a rose cellar permalink
    October 26, 2010 8:36 PM

    rohini, yes, a few years back tariq ali suggested something of this kind: kashmir as a place, a zone, but not a nation-state. its specific modalities can be worked out, but first one should be able to imagine it.
    concretely speaking, there is nothing unrealistic about it, if that is what bothers those immersed in theories of nationalism, ethnicity etc.

  39. October 26, 2010 10:34 PM

    Rohini: Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for working towards a world without countries. I share your imagination. But that has nothing to do with preventing what you insist will be a theocratic Kashmiri state. I think it is for the Kashmiri people to decide whether they want a theocratic state. Who are we to decide this for them? In effect, in practice, in application, your opposition of nationalism is resulting in status quo for Kashmir. Also, see Kafila’s Kashmir archives for surveys that have shown what the Kashmiri people overwhelmingly want: azadi. Do you really see no problem with telling them, ‘Look, this occupation is bad but I can’t let you live in a theocratic state. Nationalism doesn’t solve any problems but creates more problems, So please continue to suffer under the weight of Indian nationalism.’

    To answer your question directly: yes, I think a theocratic Kashmiri nation-state will be better, even for its minorities, than Indian occupation.

    • Rohini Hensman permalink
      October 27, 2010 8:29 PM

      Just to clarify, I am not at all suggesting that the majority in Kashmir want a theocratic state – far from it! What I’m saying is that unless you specify what ‘azadi’ means, you will have people voting for one thing and getting something quite different. SAS Geelani doesn’t want Kashmiris even to have the option of a state of their own: ‘azadi’ for him means accession to Pakistan. I am simply saying that Kashmiris need to have the space and freedom to discuss among themselves what they really want, instead of having some solution imposed on them by a leadership that doesn’t truly represent them. As I said before, I think it was a serious mistake for the organisers of the conference to invite SAS Geelani to represent the voice of azadi, when he clearly doesn’t represent the majority of Kashmiris at all. That is already an act of imposition.

      Did supporters of Tamil Eelam outside Sri Lanka consult Tamils affected by the civil war before deciding that Tamil Eelam was the solution? I interviewed people at several camps for internally displaced persons as well as refugees, and most of them wanted safety, security, equality and dignity, not an exclusively Tamil state where people of other communities would be ethically cleansed or massacred.

  40. October 26, 2010 10:46 PM

    To add to that, Rohini, there’s a clear roadmap to establish nation-states. A democratically elected constituent assembly can decide what kind of state do the people want

  41. Sunny N. permalink
    October 27, 2010 6:28 AM

    http://conaie.nativeweb.org/assembly/assembly4.html

    Autonomy: In addition to decentralization, the state needs to encourage the economical development and autodetermination of the Indigenous territories and regions of the Afroecuadorians. This, however, does not mean “states within states”. Sustainability: The state has to manage the natural resources reasonably; considering the future generations and both ecological and economical viability of the country. Equality: State has to make certain that the national income and wealth is being produced and distributed in a just way. Diversity: The state has to strengthen peoples and nationalities’ cultural identity and their way of organizing socially and economically. However, the state has to simultaneous guarantee the unity on national level. This is reached by an intercultural dialogue between the people and nationalities that form the Ecuadorian society.

    The Plurinational State – Agenda

    I believe that all of India has to become this. And Kashmir as an independent state with its present boundaries will not happen as India,Pakistan and China will never sit on the same table and talk. And China has never been known to cede one inch of its property. And POK is strategically now essential for China to get to Arabian Sea. All this flutter like Wagah border candlelights is only on this side . Pity the Indian state whose intellectuals are as lazy and corrupt as the State they decry.

  42. waqar ahmad permalink
    October 27, 2010 1:35 PM

    ALL,
    It is a known fact that no two human beings are alike. Each of us has our own thoughts and way of doing things. Indeed,in every country there are people with differnt ideologies, so are here in kashmir. No one can deny this fact that some islamic theocrats do exist here in kashmir but that does not mean all kashmiris share their ideologies. If we go through all comments posted here we can recognise a number of catagories on the basis of ideologies. Some friends have strictly adhered to their emotions and interests while making analysis and proposals to handle the kashmir dispute. As for example,for nationalists the interests of indian state are of primary importance and the occupation by force, abuse of rights of people,etc are secondary. Some nationalists are here, blended with extremist thinking and for them abuse of rights,brutal killings,etc dont matter at all. What matters for them is indian domination and perpetual occupation of jnk at any cost. Majority of the debaters here are 50-50. They try to hide their nationalist sentiments and propose economic packages and other half- hearted measures. A number of people in this category have raised some absurd questions like,ask people of kashmir what they want ? Why they want it and what for? It is crystal clear that people of this disputed state want freedom from india and they want it for many reasons apart from the fact that final settlement of this dispute is long pending. The people of kashmir would have thought some middle path like autonomy and all that but majority of kashmiris say that they dont feel safe with india. They say india can not be trusted after killing hundred thousand people and destroying the properties worth billions of rupees.
    All those people who think that j n k will become a fundamentalist state where religion and ethnic minorities can not be tolerated. This is not true. They should go through the history of j n k from 1948 to 1989 and see how many times communal or ethnic clashes have taken place. Both pre-48 n post-89 the circumstances were extraordinary and can nt be genaralized. Majority of people in kashmir are moderate and they know that all those people who are arguing for ‘islamic khilafat’ type things are not talking sense. Such ideas are never viable and people who carry such ideas are living in some different world.

    • Nitish permalink
      October 27, 2010 2:58 PM

      I don’t know about Kashmir..but I’ve been to Jammu and Ladhak the mood there at is surely pro-India.

  43. Murali Shanmugavelan permalink
    October 27, 2010 5:55 PM

    Dear Shuddhabrata Sengupta,

    Thank you very much for this account. I live in London and am completely in dark and misinformed by many mainstream media outlets. I will be in Delhi soon, and I am keen to drop by and say a personal thanks to you.

    Considered spaces like this when reporting abuse against humanities are shrinking. I was in Hyderabad – on the day after Mumbai attack, and I had no words to express when watching ‘million times worse than Fox news’ reporting done by fast speaking, over-enthusiastic young and novice TV ‘reporters’.

    To other intolerant bunch here who have left hateful comments, I have one thing to say: wait until someone dies in your family by abuse, terror or in the name of nation-fucking-building. Then you will get the points raised here.

    Until then, sod off.

    In fraternity mode,
    me

  44. John M permalink
    October 27, 2010 8:04 PM

    Thanks it is hardcore leftist extremists like you who are bringing awakening in the younger India generation. They are realizing that the ‘enemy’ is within. A minority who is proportionally vocal, despite with no mass support is some how now ‘directly’ effecting their ‘lives’. This is not 1970’s or even 80’s …….no one except minority of lunatics prescribe to your view points and ideology. And young have already rejected you and will shut you up soon too. Even better ship you to Pakistan and Taliban areas.

    • October 27, 2010 8:38 PM

      dear john m, in our country we should give space to everyone to speak and for all ideologies to exist. it is through communists , through anti nationals and psuedo intellectuals that the rest of the country realises their folly and unites. therefore, please don’t ship them anywhere, yes the writer can go to any of the self determined places he has so vehemently talked about. I should praise miss nevedita menon for letting us voice our opposite opinions on this site though. That’s really admirable ma’am.

  45. Sunalini permalink
    October 27, 2010 8:31 PM

    John M, what a wonderfully original response. Have never heard this point of view before, especially the part about shipping leftists to Pakistan etc. Do enlighten us on where you acquired such careful, deep and immense insights. In respect, and awe….

  46. Joy Bhowmik permalink
    October 27, 2010 9:36 PM

    How many Kashmiris today ask Azadi for their own selves – and how many ask it on behalf of Pakistan?
    The Kashmiris of today are the descendants of the same Kashmiris who were persecuted by the militias sent by Pakistan in 1947. Have they forgotten how they were tortured until rescued by Indian forces?
    Arundhati Roy and Mr. Geelani would do well to turn a page of history and understand the real reason for the current situation.
    Kashmir as a province was a conglomeration of 22 princely states – 16 Hindu and 6 Muslim. These were consolidated under Sikh rule and later under the Dogras following an arrangement between the Sikhs, British and the Dogras. When in 1947, the King of Kashmir (Dogra) signed accession to India – it was due to the provocation of Pakistan sponsored militias waging war on his state – no different from the terrorists that continue to infiltrate Kashmir today.
    The Indian intervention saved lives , something the state of Kashmir could not provide to its citizens at that time. The accession itself and the Indian intervention was completely legal – and these are the facts and they are undisputed.
    Jinnah wanted, all Islamic areas to accede to Pakistan. This was based on religion demographics, not on what the population wanted.
    Where Pakistan’s demagoguery could not succeed, the perfected mechanism of state sponsored terrorism and state sponsored disinformation have been specially honed tactics. They also managed (quite well) to make it an international issue at the UN.
    Lack of Development of the state of Kashmir, was India’s folly – and that coupled with India’s heavy handed response to terrorism has led to the street uprisings we see today. But let us not forget, that public memory is short, that public anger is fuelled more by fire in the belly rather than fire in the heart.
    I ask for the Indian Government to show Compassion – but be Stern. Not an inch of land to Pakistan. That is not what we pay taxes for.

  47. waqar ahmad permalink
    October 28, 2010 2:41 AM

    Dear joy.
    In kashmir 87 % today ask azaadi for their own selves n 7% may be askng for pak 6% i kept for india because there are still families like sheikhs, bakshis,soz,etc who tell history to people like you. How indian army saved kashmiris is farooq abdull.h’s version of history, isnt it? Better you seek some authentic authors n turn pages to correct yourslf.

    • somnath permalink
      October 28, 2010 6:57 AM

      “How indian army saved kashmiris is farooq abdull.h’s version of history, isnt it?”

      Waqar, forget Farooq Abdullah..Stanley Wolpert? Owen Bennet Jones? MJ Akbar? VP Menon? Or the latest book, “Limits of Influence” by Schaffer? Authentic enough? In case you want to learn about the developments of 1947-48 in J&K, sources are many…And while there might be different points of view on what was “promised” at what premise (!), and when certain documents were signed, there isnt too much confusion about the gist of the story..

      and where did you get your numbers from? Survey after survey – from the famous Outlook survey 15 years back to the one “sponsored” by the young Gaddafi, show that the so-called support for azaadi is a valley phenomenon..In other words, a sunni muslim phenomenon…

  48. Pinak permalink
    October 29, 2010 1:57 AM

    With the fear of being seen as an “Indian Patriotic” – a phrase that Mr Sengupta uses almost to abuse, I would like to ask the following questions:

    (1) Does azadi for Kashmir also include the pak occupied kashmir? Has the state of pak shown any indication to relinquish its territorial rights over POK?
    (2) What about the rights of kashmiri pandits who want to live in their ancestral homeland, but want to retain their Indian identify? Are their rights not important because they are in minority? What about Jammu and Ladakh?
    (3) Is it possible for Indian Army to reduce its presence in Kashmir without risking increased infiltration or another kargil like situation?
    (4) Just before circa 6 months, the valley was so peaceful that a record number of tourists visited the valley. What happened since? Why the voice of azadi was unheard during those days?

    (5) Why did Ms Roy or Mr Sengupta not have a conference in Delhi during that relative peaceful time in valley to raise human rights issues or to declare that azadi was the only way out? Do intellectuals need an appropriate moment to raise their voice just like politician? In that case, is it OK for intellectuals to sound more moral or ethical than rest?
    (6) I remember the sound and furry that Ms Roy created during Narmada valley andolan, but she did not seem to spare a word these days about that displaced people of Narmada valley. Has she now moved on to some other topics, which are now occupying a major space in the mass media? Ms Roy therefore seems to pick up the topics that are more prominent on mass media, but at the same time she accuses them for their lack of imagination. Am I right in thinking that now she has a topic which she could cling on to see it till its most logical end?

  49. waqar ahmad permalink
    October 29, 2010 2:49 AM

    Dear som,
    Many surveys hv been done by so many groups here n the figs r frm the one by south news. Howevr yasin maliks survey is said to be more accurate n comprehensive.

  50. Mahesh permalink
    October 29, 2010 7:04 AM

    A friend of mine wrote the following piece in response to Arundhati Roy’s essay that appeared in Outlook in 2008. It is a bit lengthy but I think it is a wonderful piece of writing, fairly objective and free of usual biases, and definitely deserves engagement.

    http://qalandari.blogspot.com/2008/09/trouble-with-azaadi.html

    • October 29, 2010 12:28 PM

      Brilliant. Echoes my thoughts.

  51. uday prakash permalink
    October 31, 2010 8:36 PM

    By reading all, inclusive of reactions to the main write up of Shuddhabrata Sengupta, my commonsense and instinctual conscience tells me again and again that he’s perhaps right.
    He is speaking for human beings as ‘citizens’ of a political nation state while others are taking stand from the other side, as if they represent the ‘state’…
    I, as a very negligible writer and a poet of one of the largest language on earth, stand in support of Shuddhabrata and appeal to the president of USA to take a similar stand which he took in the matter of the most accused and suspected minority in his own country. (It seems ridiculous that a street dog appeals to the head of an empire…)
    As for as Kasmhmiri ‘pundits’ are concerned, most vocal of them are the ‘priests’ of fanatic Hinduism, which is nothing but Brahminism. They are integral part of the ruling caucus, which has made our lives miserable I other parts. We all have tasted it’s contemptuous venom and identify ourselves with the oppressed groups of people not only in Kashmir but in other places too.
    Taking all the risks as a writer and as a citizen, who loves his country known as India really deeply since childhood, with it’s great people, I feel congratulating Shuddhbrata for his courage to tell the truth.
    I’m also a nationalist and a patriot, but not at the cost of the lives of people, children, youth and women (I’ve seen horrifying pictures sent to me in my mail box, these are not morphed and fabricated) and their rights to survive and to speak.
    We must stand with Democracy and people of Kashmir. Iif they could read our minds, will understand us, who form the majority of the actual silent demography in this subcontinent.
    I’m scared of being ‘black-listed’, which I’m already, by the state institutions mostly run by fanatic Hindu casteists, would like to pray that my words should be heard as brittle, sane, humane words of a most ordinary citizen…
    I’m a born Hindu and my religion has never taught me to be inhuman, corrupt morally, violent and contemptuous for the sake of power and politics.
    And as for as Arnob, the star anchor of Times Now is concerned, he’s nurturing a fool’s ambition to come at par with Arundhati Roy. He’s progeny of his ancestors. Remember T.O.I.’s role during independence movement and about Gandhi.
    I remember just a 2 days before, Times Now gave it’s ‘News Break’ shouting ‘Arundhati takes a weak u-turn”…I was bewildered till I watched other news channels.
    I still feel strongly that India can survive as a strong, united federal nation-state, if we get rid of such divisive elements…
    Sonia Gandhi should be wise enough to read these ‘sub-texts’ of politics…
    It’s a single, individual, weak voice and I don’t think It should be taken as a ‘threat’ to the so mighty nation…I belong to..
    I regret I was not there..!

  52. November 5, 2010 4:34 PM

    Dear Shuddhabrata Sengupta,

    You rightly exposed what actually transpired at the seminar on October 21, 2010, “Azadi: The Only Way – Report from a Turbulent Few Hours in Delhi”. The Indian media has been constantly trying to instigate people and ensure that they remain divided on frivolous issues forever. The TV channels believe in stationing their correspondents on sites where poor, helpless kids have fallen into big manholes for no fault of theirs. And, such news is telecast as Breaking News for days on. The mainstream media doesn’t believe in taking to task people who dug those holes and left them uncovered. The state of Kashmir is rather the same – people have fallen into holes dug by those who are inhuman and unpatriotic.

    I’m currently operating a website IndianMuslimObserver.com (http://www.indianmuslimobserver.com) that focuses news and views, particularly about Indian Muslims and those around the world. Kindly see: “Indian Media’s selective amnesia: Underreported Facts of ‘Azaadi’ Meeting at New Delhi” [http://www.indianmuslimobserver.com/2010/11/indian-medias-selective-amnesia.html], which I thought that it must be published and the mainstream media be full exposed.

  53. Hironmay Basu permalink
    November 17, 2010 2:20 AM

    I happened to land up in this article somehow and reading it only made me red. Why ? Because my family members, my members who gave life for the integrity of this country fighting terrorists, this article is nothing but a slap on their face.
    And what makes me more shameful is so called champions of human rights are mostly bengali…

    The basic concept of your and mine is different. For me, country and its integrity comes first and above everything, the soldiers who die for this country and their families, their rights come second , and other human beings and animals in a country in which they are born, their rights come last.

    Luckily, 80% of Indians, i.e. at least 85 crore people will prefer nation’s integrity over everything and I know kashmiri and other so called azaadi forces won’t be able to do anything till this remains…
    I don’t agree with congress/bjp/modi or any such religious fanatic and hate them as much may be you people do… bcoz all of you are out there to split the country.. today it’s kashmir, tomorrow it’s punjab, north-east and so on…

    But don’t know mr sengupta, as long people in families are willing to pay with their lives for the integrity, you all will never succeed.

    As I sign off, I ask a simple question… how many of your or arundhati roy’s family members ever have served for the country .. be it freedom struggle or in today’s army ? How many of you ever visited those young soldiers homes ? How many of you have visited those pregnant ladies who husband died on battlefront … First count that and then ask…

    I have sympathy with kashmiris who died , but its something they brought upon themselves by choosing the path of azadi…

  54. Varun Shekhar permalink
    December 29, 2010 12:05 AM

    Can anyone answer why it is that there is no Kashmiri Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian or open atheist or agnostic, joining in the Azadi movement? Surely, if the issue in Kashmir is “alienation” due to past injustices including neglect, or even a feeling of not being Indian, why would the non-Moslems also not feel this sentiment. The only conclusion one can come to is that this whole travesty of a freedom struggle is about “We worship Allah, while you worship Ram”

    Sorry, that ain’t like good enough in the 21st century. It’s not good enough in any century, but postively not in the 21st.

  55. March 17, 2011 12:29 PM

    When i heared about the web site ,I did not beleivd.But today I just tried to search.found it made some comments………….too late but never late.

Trackbacks

  1. Shuddhabrata Sengupta | Kashmir Solidarity Network
  2. Valley of the shadow of death « Immanuel’s cant
  3. Minutes of the seminar on ‘Azadi: The Only Way’ « Kafila
  4. Kashmir needs space to debate its future | Rohini Hensman | News Team
  5. Indian Media’s selective amnesia: Underreported Facts of ‘Azaadi’ Meeting at New Delhi | IMO

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