Please, set Kashmir free – Malavika Sangghvi – DNA English Daily, Mumbai


Please, set Kashmir free


Malavika Sangghvi

Saturday, August 23, 2008 21:56 IST     


As the daughter of a Kashmiri Hindu, whose family left its ancestral home in Srinagar during the turmoil that followed Partition, I would like  to express a sentiment that I still haven’t heard in the rhetoric about Kashmir.


I speak for those for whom Kashmir is not a symbol of one-upmanship with Pakistan, not a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that is intrinsic to the sovereignty of India  and not a football to be kicked around by cynical politicians, but as the daughter of a family in whose very lifeblood Kashmir courses every moment.


Cut our hearts open and you will see Kashmir, put your ear to our sighs, and you will hear our yearning for the land where our family spent its last days intact and happy before Partition scattered us to the winds, rendering us refugees.


Growing up dislocated in Mumbai, as a child, it never failed to surprise me when people who often hadn’t so far stepped out of their suburb, would say: “Kashmir is ours! We will never give it up! Let them try and take Kashmir from us!”


Even at that early age, when I could have mistaken their jingoism for kindred sentiment, I realised that their virulence had nothing to do with my family’s love for Kashmir, but was misguided machismo.


And I would find myself seething with rage at the audacity of their presumption. “But Kashmir was never yours,” I’d say in my mind. And sometimes, when more provoked: “You don’t deserve Kashmir!” And then I’d go home to my mother, whose ever present, unshed tears for her homeland were a leitmotif of our life in Mumbai.


Throughout my childhood, my family would go back to Srinagar (the ancestral home in Vazir Baugh had to be sold when my widower grandfather became too old to live alone) to stay with Muslim friends, with whom we shared a poignant empathy: we had lost Kashmir because we had moved away; they were losing it everyday, living there, witnessing its destruction. Over kawha, we would watch as the elders of our family weep for what had been.


Like a woman too beautiful for her own good, Kashmir was a tragedy even then. It produced an ache in our hearts when we heard its name and thought of its ill fate: and then, because you cannot sit weeping over lost Valleys all your life, when we returned home we put Kashmir on the backburner.


And on that backburner, Kashmir fermented Sheikh Abdullah, a man whose commitment to India was unquestionable, was humiliated, jailed, alienated. The most unimaginable genocide was committed on the people. Entire generations of its sons were mowed down by an army whose presence was as large as it was unpopular. And in its knee-jerk, misguided, ill-conceived approach to Kashmir the Indian polity revealed its shallowness.


But through this all, intrinsically, those of us who have Kashmir in our bloods, know that the Kashmiri Pandits who have been driven out of their homeland are not enemies of the Kashmiri Muslims, in fact they are both victims of the historic blundering of the Indian government’s Kashmir policy.


Take away Delhi’s political brinkmanship, take away the Hindutva sentiment that has played so neatly into the hands of Pakistan and its fishing-in-troubled-waters game and you may be surprised at how harmoniously Kashmir’s Hindus and Muslims can live.


So, on behalf of my mother, my family, and all those who have loved and lost Kashmir, I beg:   Please. We have done enough damage to and in Kashmir. Enough to last many lifetimes. The chinars are tinged with too much blood. We have failed Kashmir and we don’t deserve her anymore. Leave Kashmir alone. Set her free.




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6 Responses to “Please, set Kashmir free – Malavika Sangghvi – DNA English Daily, Mumbai”

  1. parvaiz Says:

    simply great ,the true picture of kashmir

  2. Aam Insaan Says:

    all ghulammohammed’s must be rubbing their palms gleefully nah after reading these malavika’s & her ilk’s, be rest assured anyway there are ten million ‘indians’ availabe to counter for every malavika’s around

  3. Praful Says:

    I am agree with you.
    and I also want to free Kashmir but after that no muslims are live in India. because we never split our land day to day.

    Free Kashmir and send all muslims of India to Kashmir. I have no problem. but if you want to Free only Kahmir without muslims it is not possible.

  4. Aam Insaan Says:

    praful it is stupid people like you who fall prey to the RSS propaganda who are a bigger, greater & may i add probably the only threat to our nation, not all the muslims on planet earth can disintegrate or harm the soverignity of India, at the most give it a setback temporarily, but the neo-hindu breed of intolerant & borrowed jingoism are actually the real enemy of our country, think – think hard & with an open mind, try to learn about the real India, gather real & direct knowledge not the vicious RSS type, when you say ‘free kashmir’ (sic) that very moment you have hit an hammer on the head of your motherland-you have betrayed her trust in you.

  5. manzurbhat Says:

    Pacifying Kashmir
    August 21, 2008

    India and Pakistan have gone to war four times in their brief 62 years as independent states. Three of these wars — in 1947-48, 1965 and 1999 — have been over the status of the disputed states of Jammu and Kashmir. Today, that region, plus the de facto international border known as the Line of Control, are once again aflame with violence.

    The combination of a tense border and a revival of substantial separatist sentiment in the valley bodes ill for Kashmir, for Indo-Pakistani relations and for regional order. Swift, deft actions on the part of India’s central government in New Delhi, restraint on the part of the fragile coalition regime in Islamabad, and the scrupulous avoidance of any partisan actions on the part of the global community will be necessary to defuse what is a potentially explosive situation.

    The cease-fire violations along the border, though disturbing, are controllable and manageable. Regional commanders on both sides have sufficient experience in reining in their respective forces. The conditions that prevail in the mainly Muslim valley and also in Jammu, the largely Hindu southern part of the state, however, constitute a markedly different matter. What explains this seemingly sudden expression of violent separatist sentiment and the equally vigorous backlash in predominantly Hindu Jammu?

    The catalyst appears to be the calculations of Kashmiri electoral politics. The initial decision to hand over some state-owned land to a Hindu religious board precipitated a chain reaction. The agitation started with the decision of the former governor of the state, Srinivas Kumar Sinha, to hand over 40 hectares of state-owned land to the trustees of the Hindu Sri Amarnath Shrine. This seems to have been a plan by some within the government’s Congress Party to bolster Hindu electoral support ahead of national elections slated for next year.

    Almost immediately in the wake of the handover, the All Party Hurriyat Conference, a loose agglomeration of Muslim political parties opposed to Indian rule in Kashmir, started an agitation across the valley claiming that the Indian government was intent upon depriving the Kashmiris of their lands, and that this action was merely the opening gambit to further dispossession. But the central government in New Delhi paid scant attention to these stirrings. All its energies, it appeared, were concentrated on surviving a vote of confidence in parliament over the question of India’s accession to a long-negotiated U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement.

    With the government preoccupied with its own survival, the Hindu population in Jammu started a counterprotest. Almost immediately after this got under way, the local branch of the national opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, smarting from its defeat in parliament with the failure of the vote of no-confidence, chose to egg on the Hindu protestors in the streets of Jammu, in an attempt to solidify its own political base — with both eyes firmly cocked on the national elections.

    To assuage the growing tensions in the valley, the new governor, an able former administrator, Narendra Nath Vohra, reversed the decision on the land transfer. This decision, though welcome to some members of the Hurriyat, failed to fully placate them. Worse, it further fueled Hindu agitation in Jammu. As the temperature rose in Jammu, it in turn led the Hurriyat adopt an unyielding stance. After having been politically marginalized in the past several years, thanks to an unprecedented span of peace and prosperity in the state, it had suddenly found an issue that had seized the popular imagination. Now it was determined to exploit this issue to further its separatist agenda.

    The current impasse is fraught with much danger, both physical and political. India has tenaciously hung on to its portion of Kashmir to demonstrate that a Muslim-majority province can thrive under the aegis of a predominantly Hindu but constitutionally secular government. Yet the actions of both the Congress Party and the BJP cast doubt on that claim. Meanwhile, Pakistan has with equal fervor sought to reclaim all of the state on the grounds that an abutting Muslim-majority region must be part of Pakistan, which was created as a Muslim homeland. India risks giving credence to that argument if it continues on its current course.

    Before a longer-term settlement can be fashioned, to ensure that the present situation does not spiral into a wider India-Pakistan conflict, New Delhi must show patience with the Hurriyat’s followers in the Valley, continue the recently initiated discussions with the agitators in Jammu and firmly tell Pakistan to desist from any provocative behavior. The risks and potential costs of another Indo-Pakistani confrontation are too disturbing to contemplate.

  6. manzurbhat Says:

    Amarnath shrine is a symbol of kashmiri culture of communal harmony. The affairs of the shrine and yatra must remain a sole responsibility of the people of Kashmir in order to continue the age old tradition of yatra in harmony. Hindu extremists like Jana Sangh, BJP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal from Jammu should not be given any role in the management of the shrine for carrying out their communal agenda.
    In terms of the Constitution of J&K (SEC. 25) the Government cannot promote activities of a particular religion or religious activity. Hence the Government should have no role in the management of the Shrine Board. However, it is the responsibility of the Government to provide all the required facilities for people attending functions of religious nature like pilgrimage etc. Hence the Government should own the responsibility for all the facilities and amenities for the yatris including travel, shelter, security, medical facilities, sanitation and last but not the least protection of environment. The role of the Shrine Board should remain solely confined to the religious ceremony, rituals at the shrine proper and finances of the shrine. The Shrine Board should not be allowed to play a negative role of spreading communal hatred, grabbing forest land and destroying environment in the name of religion.
    The Jammu people especially the Hindu extremists, who are spearheading the agitation for having a total control on the economic benefits of the yatra, have no locus standi to be a part of the Amarnath Shrine Board and no such arrangement will be acceptable to the people of Kashmir who are real the guardians of the Amarnath Shrine.
    We have discovered this shrine.
    We are the true guardians of this shrine.

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