Nitin at the Acorn has an excellent article, that questions the wisdom of acceding to the demands for self-determination in Kashmir. He cites the perils that this would pose to the integrity of the rest of India, should Kashmir merge with Pakistan, an almost foregone result of a plebiscite under the current conditions prevailing in the valley. I could not agree more.
Commenting on the article, several readers have suggested that India should follow the examples of China and Israel, and put down the insurgency with deadly force. Unfortunately, the demographics of the nation would seem to rule this out as an easy solution, too.
The comparison of India's position with that of China or Israel is valid, only if we looked at the insurgencies in Kashmir, Xinjiang, and Palestine exclusively through an ethnic lens. It's dangerously short-sighted to frame the Kashmir problem as an ethnic issue, or worse, as arising from poverty and social discrimination. The claim by the Bollywood actress, and a Muslim, Shabana Azmi, for example, in her recent interview with Karan Thapar of CNN-IBN, that the Muslims of Kashmir would have a greater sense of unity with the Hindus of Kashmir than with the Muslims of Tamil Nadu because of their Kahmiriyat, is spurious at best.
It's about time India recognizes that the real problem is Islamism, an ideology that refuses to play second fiddle to nationalism, ethnicity, language, gender, or any other force that unites a random group of humans. Addressing today's rally in Srinagar, Islamist Syed Ali Shah Geelani said, and I quote from the Times of India:
"We are Pakistanis and Pakistan is us because we are tied with the country through Islam" [emphasis mine]..
The crowd, estimated to be in the thousands or the hundreds of thousands depending on the beholder's glasses, roared in agreement. Precisely, how many Kashmiri Hindus (not counting the security personnel, of course) participated in the rally alongside their Kashmiriyat brothers and sisters?
During my recent visit to India, I watched with horror a newscast on a massive rally by Tamil Muslims in the outskirts of Chennai. Brandishing their swords and sickles (I am not exaggerating), they shouted,
Eppothu, eppothu? Pongi ezhuvathu eppothu? Eppothu, eppothu? Meendum allavin aatchi eppothu?"
When, when? When do we rise in fury? When, when? When will we regain the rule of alla?
Kashmiriyat, my foot.
Beware, India, this is not a 10m size problem, but a 150m size gorilla that you are dealing with. What the Islamists want not just in India, but wherever they are found in small or large numbers around the world is to be governed by their anachronistic religion, laws, and ideals. Nothing short of this would deter them from their acts of terror against the rest of humanity. In the aftermath of 9/11, Ayaan Hirsi Ali had pondered:
I have to wake these people up... The Dutch had forgotten that it was possible for people to stand up and wage war, destroy property, imprison, kill, impose laws of virtue because of the call of God. That kind of religion hadn't been present in Holland for centuries.
--- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel, 2007.
That kind of religion had not only been present, but also ruled in India for centuries. There's absolutely no excuse for its people to forget the history.