Here is how it stands. A set of people wants ‘Azaadi from India for Kashmir’. Another set wants ‘Azaadi for Kashmir to join Pakistan’. The second set includes separatists and Pakistan. The first set includes JNU scholar Shehla Rashid and others of her ilk in what Arnab Goswami calls ‘Tukde-Tukde Gang’. How about a third set: Indians who want ‘India’s Azaadi from Kashmir’?
The third set exists as do the first and second. The great unwashed in Kashmir and ‘mainland India’, for want of a better term, do not fall into any of these sets. They are pawns waiting to see who checkmates whom and who gets to win. Terrorists and militants are distributed among the first two sets, with the Islamists among them looking for a ‘caliphate’ to emerge out of the chaos.
The Union of India, the Indian State, is the fourth entity, the most powerful of the whole lot. It has got the mandate and the machinery, and it has got the Constitution to digest criticism and attacks of any sort from anyone. The strength of the fourth is that it stands as a solid block and nobody since Partition has been able to develop cracks in the mould. It is cast in a die that will stand the test of time!
In no Indian elections till date, including those held in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, has ‘India sans Kashmir’, or ‘Kashmir sans India’, or ‘Kashmir for Pakistan’ been an election issue. Ever! That is the strength of the fourth. And the weakness of the first, second and third. The three sets do not have locus standi as long as they do not make ‘Kashmir’ an election issue.
Only democracy, electoral democracy at that, can deliver to them the sort of Kashmir they want an ‘independent Kashmir; a Kashmir with Pakistan, or an ‘India free of Kashmir’. Till then, the chaos in Kashmir will ensure that Kashmir remains an integral part of the Union of India. Neither of the first two sets has learnt from India’s freedom struggle.
Which of the three sets has the guts to make Kashmir’s status in any of the avatars they want it to be an election issue? The set of separatists wanting Kashmir to join Pakistan lacks confidence that the vote will go their way. The first set seeking ‘full and complete independence for Kashmir’ could have done the same and made ‘Azaadi for Kashmir’ an election issue, a slogan that the entire world would have heard over all the din. But these are lazy people. They embraced victimhood. They do not get it that, if ‘Azaadi for Kashmir’ becomes an election issue and people vote ‘yes’ for azaadi, it would be nothing short of a referendum!
The reason why neither India, nor Pakistan wants a referendum is partly because the vote may go for the set which wants ‘Azaadi for Kashmir!’ What about Indians wanting “India’s azaadi from Kashmir”? They cannot ever get their wish because mainland parties cannot make that an election issue. It will be political hara-kiri. Imagine the Congress or the BJP doing that!
Big chunks of people in many parts of India may vote for ‘Azaadi from Kashmir’ and all communists if they think like Arundhati Roy and CPI(M) leader Suneet Chopra also might. But then, that is the charge against them: Balkanization of India, the ‘Tukde Tukde Gang!’ Will Arundhati Roy prefer to live in an ‘Azad Kashmir’ and give up her Indian citizenship? Hardly likely. For, without being in India, how will she be able to help carve an ‘Azad Adivasiland’ out of central India, or fan the many rebellions in North-East India? The Trojan Horse would be lost to the azaadi cavalry.
The people, the hoi polloi and the great unwashed do not count. It is the prominent voices that make a difference. Such people as Arundhati Roy and the UNHCR hobo from Jordan. Where Congress leaders stand is not clear as the Congress talks in one language when in power and in another when out of power. The Congress is several-tongued if not ‘multilingual’!
Given Pakistani citizenship, Aiyar might forget his house in Mylapur, Chennai, but it is unlikely that Khurshid will leave his UP village. For Aiyar, Pakistan is cure; to Khurshid rejuvenation. The Indian Muslim whether Azam Khan, fanatic Ilyas Sharafuddin or barrister Asaduddin Owaisi knows he has to remain close to the overturned seat of the ‘Delhi Sultanate’. As for Indian communists, they will not leave or give up. They want to get their hands on Nerolac to paint the whole of India red.
It is just that the Union of India stands in their way and they can only insert their preference in vague terms in books they write on Kashmir. Mind you, in all of this yak-yak, Leh-Ladakh and Jammu do not figure. And the Chinese can staple visas as much as they want, their yak-yak not even the hardy Yak can make sense of.
(The author is a political commentator)