Saifuddin Soz has said publicly, and in his forthcoming book, that Kashmiri’s would like ‘azaadi’, or freedom, meaning secession from India and becoming an independent State.
It is far from clear on what basis he comes to this conclusion. For seven decades Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India. That status is written in stone. It cannot be altered, and the people of Kashmir know that too. It is important to remember that since 1947 no secessionist movement against the united Republic has succeeded. Soz’s remark is, therefore, categorically unwarranted.
Certainly, there is unrest in Kashmir. Ordinary Kashmiri’s want a return to normalcy, safety and security by a firm rebuttal to militancy and terrorism, a responsive and effective state government, and the beginning of a political process—not necessarily with the old, discredited interlocutors—but new ones, that need to be identified.
Above all, Kashmiris need more economic opportunity. This alone is the antidote to the growing Islamic radicalization going on right under the nose of state authorities in madrasas, mosques, and through social media. When there is economic investment in Kashmir—for which security and massive incentives must be provided by the state—and jobs are created, for which educational degrees are required, the bulk of the young in Kashmir will be weaned away from terrorism and militancy. This will also be a befitting reply to Pakistan’s attempt at sowing terrorism and disaffection in the state.
Two further thoughts. Soz has said that what he said was his personal opinion. The Congress party, to which Soz belongs, has disassociated itself from his statement. Is it fair then to tarnish the entire Congress party as anti-national as the BJP is seeking to do? If an individual’s statement, in his or her personal capacity, can be deemed to be the view of the entire party to which he or she belongs, then will the BJP accept—to quote only one example—that when Vinay Katiyar, a senior leader and functionary of the BJP says that all Muslims in India should go to Pakistan or Bangladesh, it is also the view of the BJP?
The other point is that the BJP entered into an alliance with the PDP as part of a conscious decision. It was clear from the beginning, that the two parties will pull in opposite directions, leading to policy paralysis to the detriment of the people of Kashmir, and the goal of dealing with both home grown and Pakistan exported terrorism and militancy. Is it fair now, for the BJP, to put the entire blame on its own alliance partner, the PDP, for everything that has gone wrong during the ill-fated and opportunistic alliance made two years ago?
The PDP may have many shortcomings. But the BJP was in the government too. For those in alliance with the BJP as part of the NDA, the inference is clear: in case, at any point, the alliance breaks, the BJP will have no hesitation in proclaiming that everything that has gone right was because of the BJP, and everything that did not was because of the alliance partner.