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Stop patronising Kashmir, Rajnath Singh; prosperity and integration is the only way ahead

Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s remarks about treating Kashmiri youth as brothers and not alienating them is just another of those well-meant statements of intent that do not offer even a smidgeon of a solution to this 70-year old alienation.

Politicians say these things but refuse to grasp the nettle. Between appeasement and the presence of uniformed squads patrolling the streets, the Congress and the BJP have, over the decades, totally failed to set the field to our advantage.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

The SS Placation is a ship that sailed long ago and left in its wake a churning of the lake and only the bitter residual of confrontation. The hypocrisy that marks the refusal to integrate Kashmir with the rest of India whether through the privileges granted by Article 370 or the Freudian slips echoed in speeches where Kashmir is referred to as separate from India is monumental.

It is patronising and received against the backdrop of the military presence as offensive. The courtesies extended to this part of the country call for contempt and exploitation, not gratitude.

The best example of this type of a standoff was the presence of English troops in Ireland against the IRA.

Against this canvas is the brutal truth that Kashmir’s youth truly believe Pakistan is a viable alternative. This delusion has now manifested itself so strongly in the psyche of the Valley that the Indian PR machine finds it impossible to counter. By years of repetition, the falsehood has become an act of faith.

Pakistan is the place where the grass is greener. If there was some sort of practical way in which one could grant them a short term experience of the reality and how their lives would change if they were under the command of Pakistan, the scales might have fallen off their eyes long ago.

But since that will not happen and the youth are fed (or feed themselves) the rosy and romantic interpretation of life under Islamabad, the impasse increases… and governments here keep throwing placatory gestures to combat and balance things out. It comes off as bribery and is received with derision.

If New Delhi has the intent then it must simultaneously up the mingling of the mainland with the Valley through human contact. At all levels and in such great quantity that the paradigm changes. The magic word here is ‘integrate.’

Begin to replace the uniform with commercial exercises, bring in new industries and retail, allow freedom of movement and residence, generate a whole new mixed population, permit purchase of land, property and encourage conventions, turn it into a fertile farmland, encourage seminars, sports and cultural events, and stop treating Kashmir like a fragile porcelain vase.

It is just another state in the land. Period. There is no other way to break down walls of distrust and ignorance.

No one likes to be condescended to and the policy towards Kashmir is just that wrapped in a protectionist avatar. As a result, we don’t know each other and we bumble about in darkness.

Because of this 'us' and ‘them’ mindset the Kashmiri sees only the army with a gun in its hand. And the nation sees a bloody ungrateful part of the country being molly coddled and spoilt for no good reason, other than that Nehru was weak, the Congress dynasty even weaker and the BJP mouthing the same platitudes. So heavy has been this brainwashing that if we are honest even we have begun to refer to Kashmir as a separate entity.

It does not require rocket science to figure out no one is going to love us, Rajnath Singh, if we hold a gun in our hands. It is prosperity and the promise of a good life for one’s children which is the only thing that counts. And, in this, Kashmir is no different than the rest of the world.

Updated Date: Apr 22, 2017 14:39 PM

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