When the current unrest in Kashmir began many thinkers and activists who questions India’s stand compared the situation in Kashmir as that of with Palestine.
On Monday, when the state is under curfew for the 10th day, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament took up for discussion on the unrest in Kashmir.
Gulam Nabi Azad and Arun Jaitely were almost in unison except for the amount of force used. Both agreed on the point that the fight is between seperatists and the government.
From Noam Chomsky to Arundhati Roy and other Indian nationals who question the legitimacy of India’s role in Kashmir, this debate might have reminded of a discussion held in Knesset, the Israeli parliament on Palestine issue.
Even for liberals in India who do not subscribe the State position on Kashmir, Monday’s discussion arises some question. What was the intention of the entire discussion when all the parties in the parliament with slight variations agree largely on how the Kashmir issue should be addressed.
Gulam Nabi Azad, a Congress leader from Jammu and Kashmir, who initiated the discussion in the Rajya Sabha that the government failed to learn any lesson from history. He was more eager to make the current turmoil as an issue that got worsened due to actions or inaction of the BJP government.
Azad told members that situation is worse than that was in 1990. By referring to lessons from history he might have meant the events that took place in 1990s and the decades after that.
He must not have meant the historical events that led to the accession of Kashmir to India and the promise Nehru government made before the international community during the late 40s and 50s.
No mainstream politicians now dares to talk about the history of Kashmir during 50s and 60s. So Azad alone can’t be blamed for that.
But he must have revisited events that took place in recent history. When was militancy started in Kashmir? Since when did Pakistan begin to influence the disenchanted youth in Kashmir? When did the militant struggle for self determination took religious turn?
If Azad and his Congress party is keen to learn historical lessons ( leave the important lesson in 1940s and 1950) he should have revisited how his party colluded with National Conference to sabotage the election in 1987. Many young Kashmiri leaders who quit mainstream politics later took to militancy after the 1987 polls were rigged.
Azad and his party who took righteous position against the use of pellet guns and excessive forces must have said what his government did when Kunan Poshpora happened in 1991 where 23 women were brutally raped by Indian security forces.
How his party responded when Manmohan Singh sent a team of interlocutors who recommended special powers given to Armed forces be withdrawn?
Militancy grew and it took religious extremist colours among some sections when Indian mainstream political parties unlearnt lessons from history. But Azad who cried hoarse about learning lessons from history should have critically revisited how his party whenever it was in power accentuated the alienation of Kashmir from India.
Arun Jaitely whose BJP did not have any ideological and historical baggage when dealing with Kashmir was more forthcoming when he said the issue is between separtists and the mainstream political parties in Kashmir.
If the numbers of people present during the funeral of slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani ( some reports say more than 200,000 people attended his funeral braving curfew) is any indication then what the parliament considers as mainstream may not be that in the Valley.
CPI(M) was one party which asked to stop using excessive forces after Wani’s killing also sounded very passive when the House took up Kashmir issue.
The usual belligerence of party General Secretary Sitaram Yechury was missing when he was talking on Kashmir unrest. The only thing he stressed was political processes should be restarted. Rest of his speech was like parroting what other speakers before him said, albeit in a more eloquent way.
And if any one doubts how the Rajya Sabha debate is going to get into the boiling minds of Kashmiris, that is there problem. Here as always the issue is between mainstream and seperatists!