SRINAGAR: A bitter critique of the system, former Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju is seemingly concerned about Kashmir. He has been expressing his concern by frequently tweeting on Kashmir.
“Many people say that civilians in Kashmir are aiding and abetting the militants. But have they ever thought why civilians are doing so? It is because our security forces have generated so much hatred among Kashmiris that many are prepared to risk their lives doing so,” Katju wrote on his Facebook wall on Tuesday.
Minutes later, he wrote a slightly longer post addressing Kashmiris directly. Here is what he wrote:
“To my Kashmiri brothers and sisters I am myself a Kashmiri, and while technically a Hindu (though I am an atheist), my DNA is the same as yours, and I am your good wisher. So you should hear me patiently, even if you disagree with me.
As you know, I have strongly condemned atrocities on Kashmiris by India security forces.
But I disagree with the demand for azadi or referendum in Kashmir. Your correct demand should be for the reunification of India and Pakistan under a modern-minded secular government, which, while upholding religious freedom, does not tolerate religious extremism or bigotry, whether Hindu or Muslim and crushes it with an iron hand. That will automatically solve the Kashmir problem. Let me explain.
- Kashmir has a large handicraft industry, and for this, it has a huge market in India. Almost every city in India has shops of Kashmiris who bring their goods (shawls, carpets, etc.) from Kashmir and sell them there. I once went deep south to Kovalam beach near Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and found a couple of shops of Kashmiris even there (since my wife speaks Kashmiri the shopkeepers there were overjoyed and invited us to lunch).
So if Kashmir is separated from India that massive market for Kashmiri goods will be lost (as Kashmiris will be unable to enter India without a visa, which will be very difficult to get). So your industries will have to close down, rendering hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris unemployed
- The worst thing in life is poverty. The aim of all Kashmiris must be to raise the standard of living of the Kashmiri people. It is only modern, large-scale industry which can generate the wealth needed for this. That alone can provide for the welfare of the people, and also generate millions of jobs.
But modern industry requires a large market. Kashmir by itself is too small for it. So if India and Pakistan reunite under a secular govt that will create a large market for the modern industry, and also solve the problem of Kashmiris, as they will share in the prosperity for all. Of course, such reunification will take time, but that must be our objective, even if it takes 10-15 years.
So please think carefully to what I have said, and if it makes sense, change your slogan from azadi to reunification of India and Pakistan under a secular govt.”
=His social media writings and his long essay’s in the formal media are widely read in Kashmir. Both his writings on Facebook triggered long responses from people. And credit goes to the former judge, he did respond in a few cases.
“Historically, Kashmir belongs to neither of the two,” responded Mohammad Afaaq Sayeed. “If India and Pakistan have an urge to unite, let them unite. Why drag us into this. We have our own identity. Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris only.” Added Bhat Shafi: “Sir if Bangladesh and pak could not stay together with the same religion and much more how is this possible for India and pak.” To this debate, Katju responded; “Partition was a historical British swindle on the basis of the bogus two nation theory (see my article ‘ The Truth about Pakistan ‘ online). We are bound to reunite, like West and East Germany, since we are really one nation sharing the same culture, but it will take time.”
Earlier soon after the Pulwama killings, General Syed Ata Hasnain who is a vocal defender of the army, wrote a report for Firstpost titled ‘ Pulwama encounter: Civilian casualties in clashes point to increased suicidal trend among Kashmiri youth’ and said, “The involvement of civilians is adding a flavour of far greater negativity and opening up the security forces to greater allegations of human rights violations.”
He further explained, “In an effort to get to the encounter site — first to help the militants escape and then to quickly retrieve their bodies for funerals — civilians in large numbers arrived at the site of the gunfight. Stone-pelting mobs, with great passion and unmindful of their personal safety, attempted to resist the security forces, resulting in the death of seven civilians, in a chilling reminder that the situation in South Kashmir seems to be worsening.”
Retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju also reacted to the Pulwama killings by comparing it to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre conducted by British general Reginal Dyer. On Twitter, Katju said, “Three cheers for the Indian army which has now started killing civilians in Kashmir, like General Dyer at Jalianwala Bagh or Lieutenant Calley at My Lai in Vietnam. All Indian army officers and soldiers should be given Bharat Ratna.”
Katju also wrote to Firstpost with a response to Hasnain, mentioning that a “guerilla war is only possible with popular support”. Here is the statement:
“General Hasnain, like General Panag and General Ved Malik, is a highly respected retired Indian Army General, and I hold him (as well as the other generals I named) in high regard. I have read his piece in Firspost and would like to respond:
“The situation in Kashmir today is this: Due to the continuous stupidity of our political leaders over decades, the Kashmiri people are almost entirely alienated from India and bitterly hostile to it. Consequently, they are resorting to armed fights with the Indian security forces, using guerrilla tactics (of hit and run) as used by the Vietnamese people in their war against first the French, and later the Americans.”
“An army can fight another army, it cannot fight the masses. A tiger can kill a beast, it cannot kill a swarm of mosquitoes. So the Indian army is engaged in a war it cannot possibly win. The guerilla has the advantage of deciding the place, time, and duration of the attack. It is said, ‘The people are the sea, and the guerilla is the fish which swims in it, and without the sea, the fish will die’.
“In other words, guerrilla war is possible only with popular support. That is support the Kashmiri militants are getting.
“Presently, the number of militants may be only a few hundred, but a large number of non-militants in Kashmir are their sympathisers who give them shelter, food, and intelligence, and, as General Hasnain has admitted, the number of militants is increasing.”
“In such a conflict, when a non-militant is killed (as happened recently in Pulwama) his non-militant relatives often become furious, and to take revenge they become militants. I am sorry to say but our politicians, who are the real villains, have made our soldiers into a ‘Bali ka Bakra’. How this conflict will end and what is its solution I cannot say, but this much is certain: The Indian army is in for the long haul in Kashmir.”
“And in the meantime, my sincere advice to army personnel is to not behave like Field Marshal Keitel and General Jodl, or Generals Tojo and Yamashita, who were found guilty of atrocities and ordered to be hanged by the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals.”