Indian journalist Santosh Bhartiya in an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi published on ‘Rising Kashmir’ claims that although “the land of Kashmir is with us, the people of Kashmir are not with us.”
The journalist presents findings from a four-day trip to India-held Kashmir in the letter, addressing the use of excessive force against protesters, the anger of the Kashmiri people, and the mishandling of the Kashmir issue by India ─ particularly, the Modi regime.
Below are extracts from the open letter.
Aggression, bitterness in every Kashmiri
I want to introduce you by the fact that people have painful aggression in them against the Indian system; be it a man of 80 year old or a six-year-old child.
This aggression and bitterness is to an extent of rejection of not even willing to talk to anybody who represents it. Their pain and aggression had taken such turn of extremism that they now stand with stones in hands and are ready to face such huge system; not bothering about the outcome. I believe this situation would lead us to the disastrous “massacre” situation.
A Kashmiri who do not holds a stone in hand, keeps the stone in his heart.
This revolution has taken a shape of mass-movement same as the movement of 1942 or JP Movement in which the contribution of public was more than the leaders.
The people who voted in the election of 2014, today none of them is ready to utter a single word of sympathy in favour of the same government.
They don’t want to be part of Pakistan
Honorable Prime Minister [Modi] some people have made you believe that each person in Kashmir is a Pakistani, but honestly we did not find a single man praising Pakistan.
On every tree, on every mobile tower, Pakistani flag swirls in Kashmir. We inquired about it and people responded by saying that, “India hates Pakistan. So in order to tease you we swirl Pakistani flags.”
Surprisingly, I didn’t find a single person saying that he wants to go to Pakistan as they are aware of the bad condition of Pakistan. I say it without any hesitation no one has inspired Kashmiri to throw stones at us. The credit goes to only to our system.
I have a question for you Modiji. Can Pakistan, which is financially a weak country, give 500 rupees to each stone-pelting boy every day? And do you really want us to believe that Indian system is so helpless or hopeless that it could not catch a single man who distributes these 500-500 rupees to the young boys of Kashmir?
Is Pakistan that strong a country that it can encourage 60 lakh (6 million) people of Kashmir to raise their voice and fight against India? This is sheer joke and even Kashmiris mock at us.
Labelling Kashmir movement with Pakistan is a sheer made-up story and is not true at all. Every Kashmiri want support from us; they want to live and want to have all opportunities and employment and a normal life with dignity. Kashmiris want to be treated same as people of Bihar, Bengal, Assam, Maharashtra and all other states of the country.
Information from Kashmir is being distorted
I am very much sure that the information and news that you receive about Kashmir is not clear and true as it is distorted by the government officials.
The projected point of view of government officials is not the real situation of Kashmir. I am sure that if you would have a technique or way through which you would listen and communicate with Kashmiris directly then you would never have ignored them.
Kashmiris mention the name of the TV channels as spreading and exaggerating the communalism in the country. I believe that few of my journalist colleagues are blinded by the ambition of becoming Members of Parliament (MP) that they have forgotten their actual role of journalist as they don’t hesitate in playing with the integrity and unity of our country.
‘Killing’ opposing voices, a wrong policy
A dangerous misconception is growing in the minds of the officials of our military troops and security forces that if anybody raises a voice against the prevailing system in Kashmir, he or she should be killed to suppress the separatists movement, but it is an entirely wrong policy to pursue.
To my understanding, there is no such thing called as ‘separatists’ movement’. It is actually a revolution of every common man of Kashmir, where a man of 80 to a child of six raises the slogans of ‘freedom and azadi’.
We should accept the fact that for the last 70 years we were committing serious and deliberate mistakes which were always against the Kashmiri people.
No democracy, just massacres
Before the day you became the prime minister, none of the previous governments assured Kashmiris that Kashmir is a part of India like other states are.
An entire generation that was born in 1952 has not seen a single day of democracy and has never experienced what democracy is all about.
They have just seen army, paramilitary forces, bullets, guns, dead bodies, mass graveyards, disappeared people, torture and mass rapes.
People in Kashmir wonder why they don’t deserve a normal life as the people of other states in India live and enjoy democracy. Will they carry on their lives in fear of guns, bullets, pellets, and day-to-day massacres?
Living like slaves
Kashmiris believe that a proper government does not rule the state, but is controlled by only few bureaucrats sitting in Delhi, intelligence bureau or army.
They feel they are just living like slaves who get the food but don’t have the right to live. This is an eye-opener that the money which gets allotted for Kashmir never reaches the people. Panchayats do not receive any money, neither does any other organisation.
Modiji you celebrated Diwali amongst Kashmir and promised that since it’s affected by the flood, crores of money [in the form of a package] will be given to Kashmir, but it was never received by the common people there.
Win their hearts
Modiji, you are a master in winning the hearts of people. You should apply same magic in Kashmir also.
You actually, should take up the immediate responsibility to relieve people of Kashmir who are in immense pain, distress, tears and sufferings.
You should free them from the treatment of prejudice and help them from freeing themselves from a fearful and merciless lives they have spend since last 70 years.
Assure them that they also have a respectful and dignified life.