In a recent speech Ms Roy has famously stated that Kashmir was never a part of India. The timeline she is alluding to is 1947, when the British ordained what the territory called India would be. As for Bharat, or Hindustan, the land has existed for at least two millennia, and Kashmir was part of Kanishka’s empire in 1st century A.D. The fact is that while India is a palimpsest – in its various layers you will find the Greeks, the Bactrians, Mongols, Turks, Afghan, Persians - what cannot be disputed is that the region of Kashmir was integral to the entity the world regarded as Hindustan. One of the earliest recorded empires - Ashoka, 3rd century B.C. - extended to the foothills of the Himalayas.
Some perspective here, Ms. Roy, would help avoid conflagrant statements.
To claim that India's historical claim on Kashmir is equivalent to its claim on Afghanistan or Burma is an attempt at obfuscation. India (with China) is the world’s oldest continuous civilization, of which Kashmir has been inalienable. Afghanistan, for the most part, hasn’t. Even under Akbar the Pathans were independent, the British tried to subdue them unsuccessfully – one major factor why the The Great Game continues to this day. And India is not claiming Afghanistan or Burma or Kashmir – Kashmir is a part of India; there are two other countries trying to claim it - Pakistan and China.
That India’s borders were arbitrarily demarcated is well established. Cyril Radcliffe, chairman of the Border Commissions, had never visited India before, was given a 5-week deadline and suffered ill-health in the Indian summer as he attempted mission impossible. As Radcliffe himself said, no matter what he did, people would suffer.
The Kashmir issue has to be solved. What it requires is perspective, maturity and clear thinking unobfuscated by falsehood (Kashmir was never part of India) or hyperbole (Resistance is a beautiful thing). Cause-hopping celebs bring little to the table.
Kashmir today is vastly different from Kashmir in 1947. Pakistan’s active sponsorship of militancy has altered the Sufi culture of the valley to a Jihadist Wahabbi dominance, and the resulting insurgency has displaced Kashmiri Hindus. India, in turn, has lurched from holding elections to maintaining control through paramilitary presence. An unfortunate result is that the current generation of Kashmiris has grown up with little sense of Kashmiriyat.
However, as the Irish peace process has shown, there is always a solution. Even leaders like Geelani realize that, with a hawk-like China and a belligerent Pakistan, Azad Kashmir is a mirage. Sane heads, an understanding of the geopolitics of the region, withdrawal of paramilitary, rehabilitation of displaced Kashmiris, generation of economic opportunities – these are first steps. Sensationalists, with their specific agendas, add same value as ciphers.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Arundhati Roy ko gussa kyon aata hai?
Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, author of Earning the Laundry Stripes, The Long Walk Home, the bestselling The Taj Conspiracy, and the upcoming thriller The Hunt for Kohinoor