Chorus for Kashmir

Serious apprehensions about the Kashmir situation slipping out of hand were expressed today at a book release where speaker after speaker warned against treating the problem merely as Pakistani mischief.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 9.10.16
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New Delhi, Oct 8: Serious apprehensions about the Kashmir situation slipping out of hand were expressed today at a book release where speaker after speaker warned against treating the problem merely as Pakistani mischief.

The speakers stressed the need for a compassionate hearing of the voices of the Kashmiri people instead of drowning their grievances in anti-Pakistan hysteria and jingoistic sloganeering.

Documentary filmmaker from Kashmir Sanjay Kak said: "I feel there is sannata (silence) on Kashmir despite so much noise. Nobody is willing to understand the nature of the Kashmir problem. There is no attempt to listen to the Kashmiri people, to understand what they feel. They are screaming for attention."

Kak lamented that the mainstream media explained Kashmir as an Indo-Pakistan problem, ignoring the humanitarian crisis in the state.

"We can see Islamabad from Delhi, not the people who are saying something to us in Kashmir. The verbal firecrackers in television studios lit up the borders; the lives of Kashmiri remain in the dark. India needs to listen to Kashmiris," Kak said.

Editor of Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari echoed the sentiment. "I recently went to a conference where very few people knew Kashmir was under curfew for 32 days in a row. One person said Kashmiris live on central doles, getting rice for Rs 3 per kg. We don't know where from such information come. Kashmir of 2016 is in a very bad shape; it is not the Kashmir of 2008 or 2012," he said.

He described restoration of normalcy in the state as a big challenge but hoped the situation could be salvaged.

Journalist Prem Shakar Jha expressed the fear that the state was slipping out of hand and felt only an out-of-box solution could work. He argued that it was fallacious to see Kashmir as a communal problem. "I met Hizbul boys and even they didn't talk of Hindu-Muslim; they only pointed out what promises India didn't fulfil. The Kashmir problem is about true democracy, not religion," he said.

Another veteran journalist and Kashmir interlocutor Kuldeep Nayar, said the current problem was exceptional as the old separatist leaders had lost credibility and the alienated youth had come to the forefront of protest.

Nayar said these youth only want freedom. "The best option is autonomy; strengthening Article 370. The dilution of Article 370 had created all the problems. The terms on which J&K came to India in 1947 should be honoured."

They were speaking at the launch of Kashmir - Virasat aur Siyasat, authored by journalist Urmilesh.