Sonia Gandhi’s assertion during her recent visit to Kashmir that New Delhi understands the Kashmiris’ sentiments amounts to sprinkling salt over the wounds of the suffering people! There cannot be more hypocritical statement than this! One can pose a simple question to her? If New Delhi understands Kashmiris’ sentiments then why it has not been honouring these for last 65 years or so? The sentiments of the Kashmiris were very well known even in 1947 itself. Nehru had said the same thing to Sheikh Abdullah who in turn put his body and soul in Pandit Ji’s hands. The first upholding of these sentiments came in 1953 when the Kashmir’s tallest leader was put body and soul in prison. He was incarcerated for over 22 years for his sentiments which were nothing more than desiring a place of honour and dignity for his oppressed people. Instead of honouring these sentiments, New Delhi ensured that the tallest leader turned into a pygmy by their machinations at character assassination. Even though the tallest leader is not so much revered in Kashmir now because of his many political somersaults and his grave is guarded by security forces round the clock, yet New Delhi has never honoured his memory by naming even a lane in the national capital after him!
Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad who like a loyal puppet did New Delhi’s bidding was suspected of having some sentiments for his people and was got rid through the well-known Kamraj Plan. There was a massive upheaval in 1963 after the theft of the holy relic from the Hazratbal mosque. The turmoil turned into a mass political movement for the right of self-determination. New Delhi again understood the sentiments of the people and to assuage these released Sheikh Abdullah. They did not at all consider honouring the sentiments.
Kashmiris thought of openly expressing their sentiments through what Sonia Gandhi calls, “the democratic means” in 1987 but New Delhi brazenly and ruthlessly suppressed these sentiments by massive rigging resulting in an armed uprising. Democracy was virtually butchered in Kashmir by New Delhi.It was to honour this rebellious sentiment that for last two decades Kashmir has been turned into a concentration camp making the BBC correspondent call it the highest militarised area in the world. The army was given a free hand with the most draconian powers to fully assuage the Kashmiris’ sentiments through the incidents like Kunan Poshpora, Gow Kadal, Soura, Bijbehara and so on!
There are still 10,000 Kashmiris missing without a trace. There are thousands of Kashmiris buried in mass graves all over the valley. International Organisations like the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been urging New Delhi to honour the sentiments of Kashmiris by ordering DNA tests of the people buriedin mass graves to end the misery of the people whose relations are missing. Again New Delhi understands the sentiments but does nothing democratically or otherwise! In recent times the worst example of truly understanding the sentiments of Kashmiris was to stealthily and in the most illegal manner hang Afzal Guru even without affording him the last opportunity to see his family. To top it off they flatly refused to hand over the last remains to his family.
New Delhi fully understood the sentiments of Kashmiris when it gave full support to an unregulated and uncontrolled 150 year old pilgrimage to Amarnath growing in geometric progression destroying Kashmir’s fragile mountain ecology. They fully ensured that this pilgrimage instead of a journey of faith performed by devout Hindus turned into a battle for Hindutva in a Muslim majority area by sounding the bugle of “Operation Shiva”!
Talking of the sentiments regarding the economic development, New Delhi robbed Kashmiris of their waters by handing these over lock, stock, and barrel to Pakistan through the Indus Water Treaty. They did not give a damn about Kashmir’s future needs in power. Instead, they sent their East India Company called the NHPC to rob whatever was left of these waters! There cannot be a worst situation than this in the entire world where a region with massive hydro-power potential is facing a power famine. Thanks to New Delhi fully understanding Kashmiris’ sentiments.
Sonia Gandhi would have been more to the point and technically right in saying that she rather than New Delhi understands the Kashmiris’ sentiments. It is historically true that many foreigners have understood Kashmiris better than anyone from the sub-continent. One of these foreigners namely Robert Thorp while pointing out the Kashmir mis-governance gave his life for voicing these sentiments during the Dogra rule. Sonia Gandhi should have had the boldness and the moral courage to say that even after fully understanding Kashmiris’ sentiments she has not been able to do anything through her emotionless Prime Minster devoid of all sentiments who does not even seem to bat an eyelid due to the mortal fear from persons like Modi and Advani!