O, friends of Kashmir!

‘Militancy is destroying Kashmir. Militants are not friends of Kashmir or the Kashmiri people. They are dire enemies – as wolves in sheep’s clothing – of all Kashmiris. They have seemingly hijacked a politico-religious theme but only to empower themselves.

The seemingly selfish, power hungry and unwise perpetrators of violence in Kashmir (and elsewhere in the subcontinent) have forgotten that violence is no solution to address any issue, whatsoever it may be. In 2019, the world no longer lives in the first millennium. The aggressive methods of the first millennium are, therefore, not valid or applicable in the current, third millennium. The architects of militancy have seemingly not learnt anything from history. They ignore the fact that violence begets nothing but hate and violence in return, as reaction, from the other side. Ultimately, in the end, violence achieves nothing but the self-destruction of its perpetrators. Their rash thinking and selfishness blinds them to prudence and pragmatism, and also kills common people.

The handful of masterminds of the recent Pulwama terrorist attack did not only mislead and destroy the life of a young 22-year old Kashmiri youth but also put the lives of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims, currently living in Jammu and elsewhere in India, in harm’s way. Only a fool would have expected that there will be no reaction to the recent barbaric and heinous terrorist act. But do the militants care? No, because they are not friends of Kashmiris.

With the unwarranted killing of more than 40 security personnel in a guerrilla-style terrorist attack, who were just commuting to their places of posting, such heinous acts of barbarism have put a big blot on people who support militancy in Kashmir. In the process, the traditional label of Kashmiris as peace-loving people is put to close scrutiny and questioned. Such attacks also have the potential to destroy Kashmir’s local economy, by hitting the tourism industry and exports.

On the basis of the above, the militants are not the friends of Kashmir. In fact, they are the real enemies of the Kashmiri people. They are obviously hell bent upon completely destabilising and destroying Kashmir. They intend to turn Kashmir into Afghanistan or make it like any other unstable, volatile country in the Middle East or Africa, where peace has been absent for decades. They want to destroy the lives and livelihood of millions of Kashmiris. Had they been wise and caring for Kashmiris, they would strive for a peaceful resolution of their issues, if any.

The onus is well and truly on the common Kashmiri people – to check, report and handover the terrorists to the authorities – so that peace and normalcy can return quickly to the valley. All political and social issues can be addressed peacefully by a consistent, well-intentioned dialogue process and sincere negotiations. Every sensible individual, who is a genuine friend of Kashmir and the Kashmiri people – from Kashmir and elsewhere – must engage himself or herself with inhabitants of Kashmir and try to convey the message of peace, humanity and inclusiveness.

Kashmiris have not come from outside, they are also India’s own flesh and blood. As part of active citizenship, it is the duty of every well-meaning Indian to help and proactively engage Kashmiris and make them understand why militancy will not bring them anything but endless grief to Kashmir and to all Kashmiris. The people-to-people proactive interaction is paramount for achieving peaceful outcomes.

We all have to do our duty and look after an essential part of our body, which has been ridden with problems for decades now. If we don’t do our bit, then who will? Talking alone will not help, condemning the terrorist acts alone will not help. We must act, and act wisely. Let us all come together and help to construct social bridges to remove distrust and bridge gaps between our communities for our common greater good.

Can Kashmiris, for their own greater good, allow wisdom and pragmatism to come back into their minds and daily lives? Peace and nothing but peaceful actions will help them.’ … Bill K Koul

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