Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Kashmiri Perspective of Terrorism in India

Dr. Pandit lays out an argument forgetting that India is a civilizational society where culture, more than religion, plays a decisive role in defining public and private lives

Changing the mindset

Dr Altaf Pandit

On 26th July, at least seventeen blasts, within a short span of 36 minutes, rocked Ahmedabad, reportedly killing 49 people and injuring more than a hundred. One day earlier, nine blasts had hit the silicon city Banglore leaving many dead and many more injured. This time not only the market places, restaurants, railway station and cinema theatres, but even hospitals were not spared.

This is a case of pure terrorism and no words are enough to condemn such barbaric acts of indiscriminate and wanton destruction. Once again some valuable and innocent lives were lost who were not possibly related any way with the grievances or goals of the perpetrators of these gruesome killings. No moral, ethical, religious or political cause can sanction or justify such an act as a means for some thing noble and sacred. Whatever the reasons or compulsions the perpetrators might have, killing innocent non-combatant people indiscriminately symbolizes nothing but insanity, sadism and desperate sense of defeat. Not to speak of Islam, which demands for highest standards of behavior and practice even in times of war and acute emergencies, even ordinary human ethical values can not allow anyone to stoop this low and be a cause of death and destruction of those with whom he has no apparent connection. Those commentators who drag ‘Islamism’ in all this should revisit Islamic history and convince themselves about Islam’s moderate, forward looking pro-life message. Al-Quran is explicit and categorical that who saves one life saves the whole humanity and that who kills one life without justice kills the whole humanity; and that should be the final verdict and principle in this matter.

More saddening, than the blasts, was the response of the analysts and the experts on Indian electronic and print media while commenting on these blasts. To them it was again the failure of secret service intelligence, lack of appropriate laws and thus a simple case of law and order. The right-wing Hindu analysts blamed the congress led government for scraping the draconian laws meant to counter terrorism, like POTA and TADA, and lamented the insufficiency of deterrent laws against terrorism. Some emphasis was on the strengthening of secret surveillance and policing at gross roots level. While Congress spokesperson maintained that law and order is the responsibility of the state governments, the BJP blamed the Centre for negligence in providing intelligence inputs regarding these events. Even there were certain voices which suggested that one can not sleep comfortably until all the mosquitoes are expelled out of the bed, an obvious reference to Indian Muslims.

One wonders that Indian intellectuals do not let themselves look beyond this stereotype understanding. A pseudo sense of nationalism has made them captive to the so-called national interest and has bereft them of making any objective and real analysis of the causes which led to such repercussions. Though there is a remote possibility that the blasts are the handiwork of state political and intelligence agencies, but more apparently it seems an act of pure revenge. Once a well know social activist working in post Godra Ahmedabad told me that during the last Gujarat Assembly election campaign, a sensational rumor was making rounds in the journalistic community of Gujarat. Precisely it was this: Mr Advani had sensed that Narinder Modi might get him killed in Gujarat in order to incite communal passions and polarize the population along communal lines to ensure success in state elections. So, Mr. Advani cut short his Gujarat election tour and returned to Delhi before the Scheduled time. Thus, given the nature of politics prevalent in India (and other parts of the subcontinent) and the lowest ebb it can touch—like one core drama in parliament recently—the hand of political forces in these blasts can not be completely ruled out.

If the involvement of Muslim youth of India in these blasts is a reality, it will be an unfortunate course of action which will lead them to no where; neither it will be in the interest of the country. As is widely believed, this time it is exclusively the local Muslims who have taken to march on this path which is no way connected to their religion and usually leads to a dead end. These acts can simply represent a manifestation of deep felt collective shame, anger and a natural desperate sense of retaliation when a whole community is pushed to the wall. By and large, the Muslim population which forms second largest majority of India, has been subjected again and again to continuous humiliation, state sponsored massacres, mass rapes, ethnic cleansing, and a worst sort of perpetual subjugation coupled with criminal negligence of civil society and permanent and outright denial of justice. Not only occasional riots and massacres, but a continuous denial of citizenship rights at equal footing with other co-citizens; economic, political and psychological isolation and mistrust, has culminated into a fertile ground to feed the germs of terrorism. Young generation of Indian Muslims is forced time and again to prove their loyalty to the nation even after sixty years of freedom, for the simple fault that their grandparents had chosen to reject the two nation theory of Qaidi Azam A.M. Jinnah

In Modern India, the growing capitalist economy, on the one hand is opening up new opportunities to masses, but on the other the fruits of progress are not percolating down to the bottom, and new challenges are emanating which adds to this social unrest. Rising inflation, cruel competition and widening social disparity among privileged and unprivileged is touching new heights, resulting in socio-economic insecurities. The marginalized communities, particularly Indian Muslims, who were left behind in the race of progress and in the process of nation building, partially due to their own inertia and inaction, partially due to the forces of history and partially due to their deliberate socio-economic isolation by state apparatus and policies, do not see a hopeful future in a shared national destiny, once again proving Mr Jinnah correct.

It seems that Indian policy makers, intellectuals and journalists refuse to see deeper into the real contributing causes, to make an honest evaluation of their mistakes and to start making up the loses by right decisions. And more of the space of these set mindsets is occupied by omnipotent and omnipresent Pakistan’s ISI. ISI has to perform its professional duties as long as it finds a breeding ground of terrorists on Indian soil, in the same way as RAW will continue to inflict wounds on Pakistan until Pakistanis will not learn to keep their house in order. These blasts should provide an opportunity to the decision makers of India, Indian intellectuals and opinion makers to rise beyond their communal mindsets and abhor seeing through the myopic lenses of pseudo-national interests, so that a rational understanding of the phenomenon of terrorism can be reached at. Only then a genuine retrospect of the policies adopted so far, is possible which can lead to corrections in the programme of nation building; a process which is incomplete with-out taking along this sizable portion of the Indian population. At the end of the day, it is a war which is to be fought by wining ‘hearts and minds’ and not merely by upgrading secret service intelligence mechanism and improved surveillance systems. It is fundamentally a ‘war of ideas’ to be won or lost by concrete effective actions on ground

1 comment:

My Blog Your Thoughts said...

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