This refers to the Open Letter from the chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (April 8), which seems to have generated a lot of debate, with some taking it as a good initiative and others, who are critical of anything that emanates from “separatists”, criticising it. For those who are perturbed by Mr. Farooq’s references to Indians as “them,” and Kashmiris as “us,” it is clear that they have failed to read the core of the letter and the main and the most important point — to look at Kashmir as it needs to be.

By saying that Kashmir is as much a part of India as any other Indian State, the rest of India fails to realise the facts: the nature of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India, the general public reaction, the aftermath of the accession, the way the Indian administration talked about the accession and its nature at that particular time, and the way the Indian administration gradually changed its attitude. They try to sideline the fact that it was India which promised a plebiscite to the people of J&K, and it was India which took the issue to the U.N., signed numerous U.N. resolutions on Kashmir, calling for a plebiscite. The Indian government and the Indian people need to ascertain the fact that it was India that broke its promise it had made to the people of Kashmir.

Mudasir Ali Lone,

Pulwama, Kashmir

No one can remain unmoved after reading the letter. The leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference has poured out the real feelings of Kashmiris and has appealed to all voters to ensure that in the coming election, elected leaders will earnestly sit together and attempt to solve the Kashmir issue. For the sake of our children, we urgently need to resolve this issue once and for all.

S. Srinivasan,

Chennai

Mr. Farooq has pointed out that it is successive Prime Ministers who have failed to resolve the Kashmir issue. But his divisive references to the Kashmiri people and the rest of India are unacceptable.

In 2011, the government had a great opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue after the local body elections. It is a pity that this opportunity was missed, where attention could have been paid to devolution of power, sharing of resources at the community level and looking into local needs like roads, schools, and water supply. Kashmir deserves peace.

Illa Nagabhushan,

Hyderabad

Here is a very encouraging instance, by a Kashmiri, to highlight the mental agony and the sense of aloofness Kashmir experiences due to the heavy Indian militarisation and political apathy. It also indicates that the people of Kashmir want to enjoy all their constitutional rights and the fruits of economic development. The time has come for politicians to exhibit greater vigour in embedding the desire and need of the people in governance and move forward from domestic politics.

Vaibhav Kumar Singh,

New Delhi

Mr. Farooq has tried to make it out that India’s defence budget expenditure is focussed only on Kashmir. This assumption is totally false. He must know that India has a right to defend its sovereignty. Instead of being influenced by Pakistan, the leader should think of the welfare of Kashmir, engage with political forces and then attempt to lead Kashmir onto the path of development within the framework of the Constitution. If one talks about the Kashmir problem, the solution lies in the acceptance of the status quo by all stakeholders; merging with Pakistan; total independence.

Of the three, maintaining the status quo is the ideal one. Kashmir enjoys special privileges which no other State in India does. If this political condition is used by its representatives, without any outside influence and personal vested interests, there can be complete development.

Anil Singh,

Ghaziabad

Mr. Farooq’s concern for “the poor people” in India living on less than $2 is well appreciated, but how exactly does “solving” the Kashmir problem save India $37-40 billion a year on military expenditure and the nuclear arms race with Pakistan? Does that imply seceding Kashmir to Pakistan? If that is so, what is the assurance that Pakistan will not then start asking for Punjab or a part of Gujarat or even Rajasthan? If he insists that a solution must be acceptable to all parties concerned, namely the people of J&K, the rest of India and Pakistan, why doesn’t he mention China? Has he conveniently forgotten that a third of his State has been illegally handed over to China by Pakistan? Mr. Farooq is not the sole representative of the people of Kashmir. There is an elected government in the State. He must also understand that India as a nation is unique — in a diverse and vast culture like ours there will be discontent from time to time. But plebiscite and secession are not the answers. Had that been the case, the idea that is India would have ceased long ago.

S. Varghese,

Thiruvananthapuram

Who is talking about the peace process? It is a pity that Mr. Farooq glosses over the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits. He should have mentioned the wave of terrorism being carried out in the Valley by successive Pakistani governments. Veiled threats of a nuclear flashpoint and so on are certainly unwanted and appear to be statements being made on behalf of Pakistan.

S. Parthasarathy,

Chennai

Thank you, Mr. Farooq for the long and detailed views. I would like to applaud your vision for a political resolution of the long-festering Kashmir issue. I can't agree with you more when you say that the time has come to make a concerted approach towards a solution.

Having said this, I would also like you to see the other side of the picture, which I failed to find in your letter. As you have mentioned only the steps taken in 2003-04 by our respected Prime Ministers, I would also like you to ponder over the steps taken by the Pakistan government. All I can say is that India does its best always, which is then reciprocated by the beheading of our soldiers on our border. Finding a solution in such a scenario is very demotivating. So, please do write a similar letter to the people and the government of Pakistan.

Divya Prakash,

New Delhi

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