This refers to activist Arundhati Roy's observation in a seminar that Kashmir was never an integral part of India, and the report that a case of sedition may be filed against her. I find the issue being blown out of proportion. No one, in the recent past, from Shiv Sainiks to Akalis, has ever been punished for making more seditious remarks than what Ms Roy reportedly said.
There is no gainsaying that Kashmir has been a disputed territory since Partition, falling mainly in India and partially in Pakistan. Unless the dispute is resolved permanently, all claims and counterclaims with regard to Kashmir's ‘integral' status will remain meaningless.
To most Indians, it may be sacrilegious to suggest that Kashmir is a disputed territory but that is the world-view of the State. The Instrument of Accession gave India legal rights over Kashmir. But no serious effort has ever been made to ascertain the Kashmiri mindset. We believe, perhaps rightly, that Kashmiris have everything to gain economically and politically by being part of a successful democracy. But this admission should come voluntarily from them.
The frenzy created by the media and the right-wing around the statements of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Ms Roy is most amusing. There is nothing new in their statements. Come to think of it, the Indian establishment thinks that by foisting the 91st case against Mr. Geelani, it will be able to stop him from speaking his mind! And the Indian state cannot stand up to the scrutiny of Ms Roy — one of the finest intellectuals of our times — and thinks that by threatening her, it will be able to deter her. When will our nation grow up?
Ms Roy might have touched a raw nerve by saying Kashmir was never an integral part of India. However, there is a need for the majority community to introspect how it treats the minorities in their day-to-day life. Many people do not entertain the members of the minority community as tenants, do not offer them job opportunities, and do not interact with them socially. Individually, we may be secular and as a nation we may be better than the rest of the world in our equation with the minorities. But we are not the angels we make ourselves out to be. That the Pandits were driven out of Kashmir is no reason to condemn the entire minority population.
Ms Roy's remark is against the sentiments of Indians, particularly Kashmiris. The media, too, are to blame for giving undue importance to her statement which might internationalise the issue. Importance should be given to the Kashmiri youth, Shah Faizal, who topped the civil service examination this year.
The ‘K' word is sensitive and touchy. Both the communities are bearing the brunt of the violence in the State for almost three decades. Non-Kashmiris who cannot contribute towards solving the problem should realise that such speeches only add fuel to the fire.
Legend traces Kashmir to king Yudhishtra of Mahabharata. Ancient Indian writer Kalhana mentions it in Rajatarangini. Kalhana's father Champaka was a Minister in the Court of Sri Harsha. It was Ashoka who founded the city of Srinagar. India was not politically one until the British rule. Independence brought Partition, and Kashmir acceded to India. India cannot afford to lose Kashmir.
Karavadi Raghava Rao,
The Mahabharata says Arjuna conquered Kashmir. The Mauryas, the Guptas, emperor Harsha and the Mughals ruled the State. So it is wrong to say that Kashmir was never an integral part of India.
Although India was not politically unified till the British rule, it was the influence of our cultural bonding that made up the entire stretch that is known as India today. Emperor Kanishka ruled from what we call Afghanistan today. Whatever the past, we would do well to refrain from saying anything controversial on a sensitive issue such as Kashmir.