Build The Bond With Kashmir
A Strong Connect Between People Of Mainland India And Kashmiris Shall Defeat Pakistan’s Evil Designs In Kashmir: Speakers At The Release Of Editor Kashmir Central Bashir Assad’s Book In Hyderabad
As the saying goes, there is never too late. There is a realization among the opinion leaders and civil society members in mainland India, particularly in the southern states, that the conflict in Kashmir cannot be and should not be seen as a problem that is restricted to the union territory and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The growing opinion among the opinion leaders – irrespective of their political affiliation and ideological commitments – is that the prolonged conflict in Kashmir, besides being the creation of Pakistan, has internal dimensions also. There is a growing sense among the people from various walks of life that the persisting disconnect between the Indian civil society and the Kashmir society has further aggravated the problem.
On August 27, Utthista Bharatha, an NGO, organized the release of the third book by Bashir Assad, celebrity author and Editor-in-Chief of Kashmir Central at Hyderabad. The civil society of Hyderabad enthusiastically participated in the function. They expressed their views on the prevailing situation in Kashmir. Those who spoke on the occasion included Mr Giridhar Mamidi, renowned law maker and historian, Shri Aravind Rao, former Director General of Police Andhra Pradesh, Shri Rajesh Raina, Editor of News 18 Urdu, Shri Abhishek Jagini and others.
We Need To Work On This Bond
During the discussion, a very interesting observation was made by the learned speakers. This was that Kashmir is looked upon as a tourist destination by some and security problem by others. Some take interest in Kashmir for its serenity and scenic beauty, while others look at it through the security prism. Both sides have their opinions. Some want to explore Kashmir to experience its mesmerizing beauty. Others avoid going to Kashmir on security pretext. Many carry a readymade template that “every Kashmiri is a militant or a militant sympathizer”.
The learned panelists made a fascinating observation. They said that for the people in mainland India, Kashmir has never been a priority in terms of having a cordial and working relationship with its people to supplement and compliment the efforts of the state. They made a passionate appeal to the people in the mainland to develop a strong connect with the Kashmiris.
In his address during the book launch ceremony, Shri Giridhar Mamidi said, “If we really want to end the terrorism in Kashmir and not allow Pakistan to fish in troubled waters, we must have a deeper bond with the people of Kashmir. We need to look at Kashmir beyond a tourist destination and a security issue.”
‘More Indian Muslims Should Visit Hazratbal Shrine In Kashmir’
A question was raised about the disconnect between the Indian civil society – Hindus and Muslims alike – and the Kashmiris. Shri Mamidi observed that the disconnect could be analysed from the fact that Indian Muslims don’t visit the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar to pay obeisance at the shrine and catch a glimpse of the holy relic of the Prophet of Islam on his birth anniversary each year. What could be more auspicious for an Indian Muslim than having a darshan of the holy relic of the Prophet on the specified day, he questioned.
Shri Mamidi said that it would have been appropriate if Indian Muslims considered going to Kashmir to catch a glimpse of the Holy Relic as a devotional yatra every year. “This would have built both the spiritual and the emotional connect between the Kashmiri Muslims and Indian Muslims,” Shri Mamidi said. It would also have shed light on the beauty of the secular democratic character of the Indian nation.
He observed that Kashmiris in hundreds visit Ajmer Sharief on the Urs of Sufi Saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti . There is no such tradition among Indian Muslims to visit Hazratbal Shrine located on the banks of the world-famous Dal Lake, Shri Mamidi observed.
‘We Need To Check Our Channels Of Information On Kashmir’
Shri Aravind Rao said that the Indian civil society has left Kashmir to the conflict entrepreneurs in Delhi. “We get information regarding Kashmir through the medium of these conflict entrepreneurs who have a working relationship with their counterparts in Kashmir. The same connect reaches the western media. This way, the whole narrative is controlled by this ecosystem” Shri Rao said.
Shri Rao stressed that it is incumbent upon the Indian civil society – both Hindus and Muslims – to build a spiritual and emotional connect with the people of Kashmir. This can greatly help in addressing the perception of alienation and isolation, Shri Rao observed.
Shri Rao said that the pilgrims who visit Kashmir for the darshan of the Holy Cave of Amarnath return with fond and loving memories of the Kashmiri Muslims who provide logistics for the Yatra. It could be a subject for research scholars to study how the annual pilgrimage of Amarnath has greatly helped in building an emotional connect at least with those Kashmiri Muslim involved and engaged in providing logistics to the pilgrims.
‘We Need To Address The Distrust’
Speaking on the occasion, Editor Kashmir Central Bashir Assad noted that it is extremely unfortunate that sometimes, the distrust between the Kashmiris and people in the mainland leads to violence. “Such kinds of situations arise essentially because of the misunderstanding or absolutely no understanding at all about Kashmir and Kashmiris. When people talk about terrorism in Kashmir, they take it for granted that entire Kashmir is a pasture of terrorism. They look at every Kashmiri with suspicion. These assumptions are not good for the nation or our society. They need to be addressed. The resolution lies in greater connect between people in the mainland and the Kashmiris,” Assad said.
Assad made the vital observation that in the strong connect between the people of mainland India and Kashmiris lies the defeat of the adversaries of the Indian state. The prevailing disconnect is fully exploited by Pakistan and its subversive terrorist organizations in fueling the sparks of terrorism in Kashmir.
Assad urged the people of mainland India to take the first step into this direction. “I assure you with full confidence that the people in Kashmir shall reciprocate with same spirit and enthusiasm,” he asserted. It merits mention here that the book, ‘Kashmir: The War of Narratives’ has earned international fame. Recently the book was released in London. The book is in demand in Europe and the US also.
‘The Bonds That Shall Heal’
In his address to the Hyderabad civil society, Bashir Assad said that the wider connect between the people of mainland India and Kashmiris is essential for bridging the gulf between the state and the people of Kashmir. The Indian civil society, he said, is a very important stakeholder in the conflict in Kashmir. It is entirely a different thing that they are fully aware of their responsibility towards Kashmir and the nation at large.
Assad said that Kashmir cannot be measured through the security prism or the tourist influx alone. “Let each Indian (both Hindu and Muslim) visit Kashmir with a mission. The mission of earning the goodwill of the people of Kashmir, winning their hearts and minds. Kashmiris are warm and loving people. They shall reciprocate your efforts in full measure, and you shall form deep bond of friendships for life. The goodwill generated by this initiative shall be immeasurable. It shall go a long way in resolving the challenges that we face in Kashmir,” Assad said.
Assad observed that a deliberate situation of distrust has been created by those who thrive on conflict both in Kashmir and the mainland. Because of this, people are reluctant in receiving the Kashmiris, particularly the students, in their homes in the mainland.