Monday, September 29, 2008

A Discourse on Kashmir....

As of late, socio-political, religious, and ethnic underpinnings have been surrounding our campus. Whether it be through the Senate (where I've now grown accustomed to rhetorical extravagances) or actions of student organizations (the recent graffiti incidents), I've noticed that students' belief in their cultural identity encourages and prompts much of what they choose to do here at Berkeley and even afterwards. Sure, that's a fair strategy - I do believe that our own genealogical histories (rightfully) influence our views/actions today. But I also DON'T believe that those views should overwhelm our sense of righteousness, justice, or equity. So, basically, I call for perspective.

On the note of perspective, I'd like to take the time to engage in an analysis of what I believe to be an (undeservingly) underrepresented and ignored part of the world politik: Kashmir. I was prompted to write this article about a month ago because of a NYT op-ed (read this after your read my article pls: that showed immense ignorance about the other side of the story. Being a Senator and student gave me little time to this post has really been a long time coming.

The Op-Ed claims that the Indian government has functionally
sponsored terrorism in the Kashmir area by suppressing the nonviolent rebellion of Kashmiri Muslim demonstrators. The writer claims that the presence of increased Indian troops promotes fear and unrest amongst the 4 million Kashmiri Muslims that reside in Kashmir today.

These facts I cannot
deny - indeed, Indian troop presence is high, and currently, the state of Kashmir is somewhat comparable to Lacan's idea of the perpetual State of Emergency; excuses are constantly being made to maintain military control over Kashmir and this causes unrest and vocalized calls for an Independent Kashmir. But claiming that the Indian government is helping breed terrorism is a whole different ballgame. Making such radical claims without a true understanding of the history of Kashmir and Kashmiri Hindus makes the argument too empty and historically inept to mean anything at all.

Kashmiri Hindus (aka Kashmiri Pandits) are not a loud voice in the impact
calculus of the state because, frankly, most of them have been killed. In 1989, terrorists began moving into Kashmir and radicalizing the Muslim population there, breeding divide amongst the religions. In the past, the Hindu-Muslim split was peaceful, if anything, and the religious differences were overcome by cultural similarities. With ample funding and weaponry, however, terrorists got a grip on the region and began pogroms against the Hindu minority - women were raped, men were hanged in their front yards, and children were killed on the spot. 350,000 Kashmiri Hindus fled their home of thousands of years and dispersed amongst India....a vast majority of them, wielding no financial or political power outside of Kashmir, were left helpless and eventually placed in Refugee Camps in Jammu, India. Most of these refugees still live in the camps, as their ancestral property and businesses have been seized. The diaspora of Kashmiri Hindus to the rest of the world is evident of a forced evacuation. Of these evacuees, my extended family members were present. My parents' ancestral home was sold under duress for pennies....they were considered lucky - most Pandit property was seized and claimed by terrorists.

I've come to terms with not ever being able to see where I'm truly from because o
f my's something I, and my family, have to accept. Kashmir is not safe for Hindus anymore, and it won't be for a long time to come. But it hurts all the more when people misconstrue the facts and ignore the history that so definitively impacts me and those important to me.

The author also refers to Hindus living in Kashmir (currently, about 20 families remain...and are alive only because of HEAVY Indian troop protection) as "occupation." The historical misconstruction here is unbelievable. In 1948 (after India's independence), the King of Kashmir (Maharaja Hari Singh) signed an agreement to join India, and this was verified by the United Nations. The Hindus that still live in Kashmir can in no way be seen as occupying....the use of that word undermines the entire history of Kashmiri Pandits in the first place.

The Jihad in Kashmir isn't growing because of Indian involvement (as Mishra claims) - the Jihad in Kashmir has already grown and conquered. The genocide of the Kashmiri Pandits and the fleeing from their homeland is what I see as a success for the Jihadis. I can personally attest to it.

But I also believe that sitting and shifting blame can get us nowhere. India and Pakistan aren't at fault - terrorists are, and this is a fact that the whole world is dealing with right now. Solutions to the Kashmir issue need to engage in bilateral communication and talks. Kashmiri Hindus need to have a say in the ultimate decision on the political status of Kashmir, regardless of their (now) reduced numbers. They are as Kashmiri as the others. And who's to say that granting Kashmir total independence won't foster even more terrorism in general, and brutalities against Kashmiri Hindus specifically?

These are the questions I wished to pose and the information I sought to put out there for you to read. I think this is something people need to be made aware about, and so I hope that this blog post will serve as educational; I hope you will be interested in the plight of Kashmiri Hindus or Kashmir in general - and I'd encourage you to go online and read more about it. At the same time, I want to reemphasize perspective. This history is something that is part of my perspective; but is NOT my only perspective. It's one of the many realities that I take into account when analyzing situations, politics, people, places. Worth a share, IMO.

Your thoughts?

Oh, and I wrote an Op-Ed to the NYT in response to Mishra's article. If you care to see it, let me know; I'll email it to you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

biharis > kashmiris