Dear Mr Bhagat,
With unflinching reverence, I wish to thank you for your letter that you addressed to Kashmiris at this time when they really need moral support. I, as a Kashmiri, therefore, consider it as my moral duty to write you back with some honest acknowledgements of the issues you have raised in your letter. Let me show your letter a ‘Kashmiri mirror’ and see what it has to reflect you back.
First of all, your letter is the most hysterical, insensitive and materialist evaluation of Kashmir conundrum, their history, and their plight. You have ‘successfully’ presented Kashmiris as drunkards who need to be paternalized and sensitized about what is ultimately ‘good’ for them. Thank you for your concern towards them. But you seem to be saying that Kashmiris are under some ‘false consciousness’ who must be brought out of it with your ‘rational suggestions’. By scaring people of Kashmir by their ‘landlocked reality’, you have ‘successfully’ presented ‘Indian help’ (of course you seem to be taking on behalf of all of them to which most would disagree) just like a situation where a boatman sets a price for saving a life of a drowning person. (Note that I am not being metaphorical here, I retrospectively refer to the conditions that Instrument of Accession set to Kashmir). This is indeed a ‘beautiful’ materialist speculation that proves how lame your utilitarian understanding of the world is. After all, social and political life is not about building bridges and roads. It needs a sensitive mind. Unfortunately, you seem to have missed your ethics classes.
Second, your ‘sympathetic suggestions’ to Kashmiris ‘for their own sake’ ‘successfully’ denies Kashmiris their ‘agency to speak for themselves’. You have ‘successfully’ mocked their emotional trauma that they have gone through since the last three decades. You have ‘successfully’ sold off their emotions at five rupees per kilogram like iron trash. You might deem them as falsely protesting against ‘atrocities’, but, to use Partha Chatterjee words, if you define both their subjectivity and prescribe their predicament and also imagine for them the forms of their resistance, what do you really leave for them to imagine?(emphasis added). By the way, your utilitarian democratic credentials, after all, aren’t an outcome of some concrete and well informed theory, rather it is the result of your intuition, but unfortunately, an uninformed intuition, manufactured by soulless corporate media that sells ‘institutional lies’ about your ‘Atoot Ang’ (Kashmir). But if you deny people their ‘agency to speak for themselves’ as you done in your letter, then let me also suggest you to get a life and refine your intuition. Ask yourself if your intuitionary understanding of the world is natural as it should be, or prejudiced beliefs that you have never challenged.
You have been particularly ‘concerned’ about half of the Kashmiri populace- women, to whom you have addressed a part of your letter. You have ‘successfully’ scared women of Kashmir from the ‘specter of Islam’ which, as per your Islamophobic beliefs, would undermine their rights in some determinate future. But, unfortunately, again your paternalistic suggestions to the Kashmiri women seem to entail that they are essentially lacking their ‘self’ , as if the ‘proper integration’ of Kashmir with India would give them back their ‘lost self’, as if Kashmir is any ‘less integrated with India ! Well, I honestly acknowledge there is entrenched gender discrimination across India and Kashmir is no exception to it. But your ‘generous concern’ gives an impression that women outside Kashmir are ‘liberated souls’ and that Kashmiri women should follow this epitome in suit. Please help yourself with National Crime Records Bureau Reports and see where you see Kashmir in terms of crimes against women in the list. I don’t intend to claim that Kashmir is any model as such; it is just to sink down your impressions about Kashmiri women. Like Laura Bush, in her post-war justificatory speech, who had argued that Afghani women needed to be saved from Afghani men and hence humanitarian intervention was vital in Afghanistan, you have ‘successfully’ posited Kashmir women in ‘danger’ from the Kashmiri men.
Not long back you tweeted that we don’t need historians to understand history. Perhaps, your letter to Kashmiris demonstrates your intention to create ‘histories of your whims and caprices’. In your letter, you have helped Kashmiris understand how they happened to be where they are now. I appreciate you for having been the most successful imbiber of textbook history! I appreciate you for that! But I would have appreciated you more, had you been more ‘honest’ in helping the people of India too to understand what caused present alienation of Kashmiris in the first place, the sagas of election riggings and political manipulations. Fortunately, you have been an IITian, who understands well the importance of causality factor in science, but unfortunately since history is ‘yours’ here, you only will decide where to use causal factor and where not, Such an exercise has caused a ‘chilling effect’ on your ‘patriotism’ to speak truth. But since it is your history, you will decide both causal factor and its response. Indeed I appreciate your history.
Like all popular ‘historical narratives’ on Kashmir, you have ‘successfully’ put on the canopy of terrorism on what is called as insurgency in Kashmir. I would not contest you on this, because it is not worth addressing. The entire world knows the ‘Kashmir secret’. But, given your self-claimed skepticism in methodological history, and your interest in ‘whimsical history’, you will probably never understand and realize your historical idiosyncrasies.
Last, but not least, let me highlight your overarching message to Kashmiris in your own words: don’t hate India, don’t fail India, because if India fails, it will be your own failure. Let me tell you that Kashmiris don’t hate India and Indians as such (perhaps because not all Indians are like ‘you’). But they do hate those who garrisoned Kashmir as the most militarized zone in the world. They do hate those who killed more than 80,000 people, orphaned nearly 20,000 children, widowed nearly tens of thousands of women, who caused thousand to disappear, making their women ‘half widows’, who laid more than 2750 unmarked grave sites in Kashmir. They do hate those who shut the Kashmir issue with an adage: ‘When bulls fight, crops suffer’, who sum up atrocities on Kashmiris as ‘collateral damage’. They do hate those whose collective conscience is active on certain occasions but sleeps on ‘other’ occasions. They do hate those who march to the streets of Delhi with candle lights when women are raped in Delhi and other places, but who stay at home when security forces turn insecurity forces and commit rapes in Kashmir. They also do hate those who consider Kashmir as ‘Atoot Ang’ but shy away from the responsibilities and obligations that such a moral call comes with. They also hate those who, like you, add salt to an injury by scaring Kashmiris by their ‘landlocked helplessness’. If you deny both crime committed and the existence of the criminal, their agency, their selves, I must congratulate for your ‘philosophy culmination’ for you have ‘successfully’ portrayed Kashmiris akin to the people living in Platonic cave fighting with their shadows.
Being a Kashmiri who has spent half a decade outside Kashmir, I know well that not all ‘Indians’ are as insensitive as you . They are as good as us. I cannot let you speak on behalf of those Indians who know what the Kashmir problem is.
Dear Bhagat, you were ‘awesome’ in your fictional world. The world out there is not the handiwork of your fiction. Awake and arise, please don’t fictionalize real history. It is not your job. Please continue to write more fictional works, but not your ‘choice based and agency denying whimsical history’, because, ‘being patriot’ you have been dishonest in your letter. And patriots don’t speak lies; they acknowledge both their positives and negatives.
(Studied political science at the University of Delhi)