An open letter to the people of India

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Dear all

I am a Kashmiri student of psychology. While studying the topic of resistance to persuasion, I came across this: “Few of us like orders or being told what to do. We all have probably experienced advertisers, politicians or individuals pressurising us to change our attitude about some issue.  In all such cases if we feel like our personal freedom to decide for ourselves is threatened, we may experience growing level of annoyance and resentment.

A child along with his elders protesting in Srinagar (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

The final outcome: Not only do we resist their pressures of persuasion but we may actually take a view opposite to that of what was intended. Such behaviour is an example of what social psychologists call reactance” (Social Psychology 13th Ed., Baron and Branscombe). That is exactly what is happening in Kashmir. Imposing nationalism, patriotism and what I may call Indianism (in a way threatening our personal freedom) only leads to reactance from us. The more you pressurise, the stronger reactance. Many of you may be uncomfortable with such an explanation. But then in order to have an understanding of the situation here you may have to swallow some bitter truth down your throat.

Whatever is the truth, it needs to be faced. In the age of information technology and social networking, deceit and lies will no longer help you cajole the people. And the truth is that Kashmir is a dispute, which needs to be resolved according to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. You must accept the fact that Kashmir belongs to none but Kashmiries. You can no longer call it as your integral part and your neighbouring country as their jugular vein. The fact is that we are tired and angry of the way you have caged us, and now no military might, political gymnasium or media campaign can hold it for you anymore. Those among you theorising about Pakistan’s involvement or so called ‘Wahabi Islam’ can remain in those delusions as long as they desire. Don’t be shocked by what is happening these days in Kashmir. You should have seen it coming since the day your government started curbing our freedom.

Students protesting in Srinagar against alleged high handedness of government forces in Kashmir (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

The way force is being used against our students reflects either your feeble mindedness or your fascist face, masked by the lie of so called democracy. One does not even treat animals the way you treat protesters here. Have you forgotten the ideals of democracy? Why don’t you understand that we have a right to protest? When you choke all the political space and crush dissent, how can you expect no reactance from common people? And most importantly how can you expect peace to prevail here?

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti consoling family of slain police officer Ferzo Dar killed in an ambush (Image: DIPR)

Those mourning on less poll percentage, student activism and unarmed uprising should instead mourn on the murder of democracy at their own hands. You looted the belief of people in democracy here a long time ago and now you expect people to have faith in it again. Till now instead of addressing the core issue, you have only done everything in your capacity to manage people. Be it by brute force or by political deceit, you have only tried to manage the conflict and not resolve it.

We have a message for your soldiers also. Though they have agonised us limitlessly, but we want to relieve them too of their agony. After all they too have families and they are here only for the sake of livelihood. However they need to know that it is soldiers who are made to fight. Soldiers die in the battle and not the kings (politicians these days). It is they who are made to face all the agony and not those anchors sitting in cosy air conditioned news room, provoking common people and you all. You may unleash your machoism here, but then one day you may have to retire and die with all the emptiness. The memories of brutality and the cries of innocents of Kashmir may never allow you to live in peace. If we are struggling for the resolution of Kashmir, it is for your salvation too.

In this file photo, forces firing tear gas shells on the funeral of 12 year old slain Junaid Ahmad Akhoon near Aali Masjid Srinagar October 8 2016 (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

Now let me ask your nationalist news anchors that if they may be us, what will they do? How can we love a state (Particularly its security establishment) that is up against its own people? Before discussing Kashmir why don’t you come and live here for few years? Then maybe you may need no explanation of the situation here. I do accept that sometimes people hold violent demonstrations against Indian rule, but that is not in the spirit of recklessness or because we here have any love for violence. But because you have made us feel suffocated and frustrated. We are tired of your false promises and now we don’t believe you. Why don’t you ask your politicians and Army an important question and that is: What India is getting by keeping the Kashmir dispute unresolved? What India is getting by holding the land only and not winning the people?

Now to blame you for all of our problems may also be too harsh. We know that our own people misrepresent us on media and in different forums. Our own politicians (Particularly mainstream politicians) sell us like cakes. We are aware of that. We also know that they are the best of the chameleons. They show one colour before elections and other after elections. They speak one language in Kashmir and other in Delhi.  However it is you who have nourished them and promoted them, without any concern for us, only to be used for your own advantage.

Joint resistance leadership comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq & Muhammad Yaseen Malik (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

Now you may point fingers at Hurriyat leaders. We want you to know that we are familiar with them too. We know that they have limited their leadership to occasional speeches in some gatherings and press statements, and lack a well designed and well thought plan regarding their struggle. You must know however that today the situation has reached to a point where people don’t follow them; instead they are being forced to follow. However if you allow them a significant political space, I am sure they too can contribute towards peace and ultimately solution of Kashmir.

Lastly let me conclude with these words that we gave you all a chance since time immemorial. But all of you have failed us and now you see a spontaneous reaction from common masses. Do you remember nothing out of the world revolution? It is the people who hold the real power. We too can bring revolutions and leave you shattered. We have a clear and loud message for you all. Our voice needs no reinterpretation. Your only favour to us can be a humane listening and empathy.  Like all the people of the world we too want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom in our own land. For God sake leave us alone.

Thanks and Regards

Imran Khan

(Ideas expressed are author’s own)

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