Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Unveiling the real face of Kashmir

Lavishly beautiful and widely known as the paradise on earth, Kashmir has been causing India and Pakistan nothing, but political unrest, loss of human lives and feelings of hostility. For years, two nations have been wrestling to snatch it from each other. Smashed in such struggles, people of this paradise are continuously experiencing a living hell with the failure of democracy, militancy, human right violations and compromises on human lives. 

In 1400 BC, during one of his hunting campaigns, Raja Jamboolochan reached a place where he saw a goat and lion drinking water together. That place of the piece was today's Jammu where proper Republican government system was practiced during Mahabharata period. By the 14th century, Islam gradually became the dominant religion, but Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir continued living with harmony, praying at the same shrines. Hari Singh ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925, having absolutely no idea what Kashmir would go through in coming years. 

With the partition of India in 1947, an internal revolt in the Poonch region, in favor of Kashmir joining Pakistan ended up with burning villages and massacre of innocent people. This revolt actually made Kashmir what it is today. After the first war over Kashmir, a ceasefire between Indian and Pakistani forces left India 60% of the area (Jammu, Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh), while Pakistan gained control of 30% of the land. 

Amid uncertain future, fear and terrorism, People of Kashmir suffered the most.
Since Pakistan was left with thinly populated, inaccessible and economically underdeveloped territory, India and Pakistan had nothing in the name of cordial relations. The growing dispute over Kashmir and the consistent failure of democracy led to the terrorism, backed by Pakistan. Three more wars in 1965, 1971 and 1999 left people of Kashmir completely soulless. By Indian militants or terrorists, either way, they suffered human rights abuses, abductions, massacres, rape and looting. 

A majestic place where Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism co-existed very well once became home to inter-communal violence. The Indian government's decision to transfer 99 acres of forest land to a Hindu organization led to ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits in 1989. Muslim paramilitaries raped, tortured and killed thousands of Kashmiri Pandits. With burning, temples, idols and holy books, 5000 years old Hindu Sanskrit culture almost wiped out of the Kashmir Valley. 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits fled the state while 30,000 got killed in blood shedding. United Nations found enough evident implying Pakistan’s involvement in the whole scene, yet Hindus of Kashmir continued to be victims. Where, in August 2000, terrorists killed 30 Hindu pilgrims, the BBC also reported hundreds of Hindu laborers, leaving the Valley due to targeted killings against Hindu workers. 

Since Indian military forces in Jammu and Kashmir operate under emergency powers by the central government, these powers have been misused to curtail civil liberties. The Telegraph (England) found Indian security forces physically abusing civilians in form of beatings or sexual abuses. Indian security forces have also been accused of using children as spies. 

Today, different insurgent groups have different opinions in Kashmir. Some want independence from India while some want unification with Pakistan. But, above than all want to be left alone. After all, amid uncertain future, fear and terrorism, who suffered the most? I guess the answer is simple – People of Kashmir.

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