Azadi or freedom is a big word, not to be spoken about childishly, without knowing its meaning or the responsibilities it bestows on an individual. It is not a bundle of sentimentalities sans sensitivities.
If there was sensitivity there would have been a lament for the Kashmiriyat lost in the shenanigans of the jehadi hoards who forced one third of the Kashmir population flee the state and become refugees in their own country. Kashmiriyat is about a cultural history, about a shared past, about Hinduism, Shaivism, Sufism and Islam where all great traditions and thoughts developed and flourished. It nurtured human values. It celebrated and cherished the Sharada script, Shankaracharya Hills and the beauty and Natyashastra of Abhinavgupt. It was rooted in Kalhana’s teachings. The history of Kashmir is one of the synthesis and synergy of cultural streams and spirituality.
It is not about exclusivity and bigotry. It is not about agent provocateurs and mercenaries. It is not about Wahabism and erasing the local culture and tradition with imported Arabic scripts and imitation of alien habits. It is not about closing down cinema halls, music shops, beauty parlours, art, literature and traditional knowledge with the Shariah and Mullahdom.
Kashmiriyat is not about pushing women behind veil, into the dark alleys of triple talaq and denial of modern education. Kashmiriyat was a pursuit after humanity and wisdom, the civilizational ethos of which tireless human endeavour for eternal wisdom and bliss was etched in granite. It built temples of knowledge, did not burn down schools so that children will not get education and could be used as pawns on the power game of desperate separatists working as paid agents of terror incubating Pakistan.
It is laughable here of talking about freedom to a beastly bunch of terror instigators and religious fanatics who have turned Kashmiriyat on its head to super impose it with the dreams of an Islamic state in secular India. Here I am not going to list the bounty of generous help the rest of India has bestowed on Kashmir. I am also not asking if little Kashmir is economical or culturally viable to exist separate from India. When these slogan shouting musketeers of freedom mindlessly self abuse the liberty they enjoy to the hilt, may I ask how many in Kashmir they represent? Do they have the permission of the Ladakhi, Leh or Jammu people in this tirade against Mother India? Do they speak for the Shias of Kashmir? Or the Gujjars? Whose freedom are they talking about? And freedom from whom?
Snapping the umbilical cord? Biting the hands that feed them? People from the other parts of India cannot vote in Kashmir. These bigots will not let have personal and political freedom for over five lakh Kashmiri refugees from Pakistan living in Jammu Kashmir for the last seven decades. They will create mayhem to deny even partial citizenship to these Kashmiri brethren.
These bigots will stall assembly and choke the streets and shed rivers of blood to disallow the return of Kashmiri Hindus driven out of the state two and a half decade ago. Their brothers have set up colonies, do flourishing business in all cities of India, Shimla, Chandigarh, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Cochin to name a few, own properties and bank balances and send money back home in Kashmir. They work and study everywhere in India without harassment or discrimination. But do these Kashmiris chanting Azadi allow any Indian from any other part of India set up a business or own property in Kashmir? If not what Azadi are these Jihadis masquerading as freedom fighters talking about?
Have they even read the first chapter of Plato’s Republic? Have they ever even heard of the great freedom movements across the world? Have they heard a line from Rabindra Nath Tagore’s great poem about freedom? “Where mind is without fear… where words come out from the depth of truth…” A bundle of lies cannot spring a revolution. And a bunch of half literate paid goons cannot build a narrative on democracy.
Kashmir has witnessed over a dozen free and fair elections. Kashmir today is ruled by a Chief Minister who for long was the hero of hardliners. Kashmir is entirely dependent on the centre and the rest of the country for its social and economic prosperity and security. Thousands of martyrs have laid down lives to protect Kashmir from invaders and terrorists. At any cost we will protect our territorial integrity and civilizational history. We will not leave Kashmir at the mercy of merchants of death from across the border. And we will protect Kashmiri children descending to daily wage stone pelters for the agents of theocracy. So that we can safeguard the great legacy of Kashmiriyat. Only in India a thousand cultural streams can mingle and flow, only here liberty has hailed its zenith of glory. And we have learnt to live in peace for centuries.
(The writer is Member, BJP Central Committee on Training, and Committee on Publications. He can be contacted at Balashankar12@gmail.com Tweeter @drbalashankar.)