Shivam Vij

From Himal Southasian: “The Kashmiri and the Indian

“On 28 May this year, the Economic Times, India’s leading business daily, carried a story titled, ‘Kashmir survey finds no majority for independence’. That is a curious headline. What is ‘no majority’? Either there is majority or there is not. Robert Bradnock conducted this survey for Chatham House, a leading British think-tank, Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control. The survey was conducted in the autumn of 2009, and the copy mentioned that 44 percent in Azad Kashmir and 43 percent in Jammu & Kashmir favoured an independent Kashmiri nation state.

Similar was the reporting of the survey in other Indian papers. They omitted some details, though. They did not mention that the survey was conducted not just in Kashmir but also the Jammu and Ladakh regions. They did not mention that even after factoring in Jammu and Ladakh, the total support for India was 21 percent and for Pakistan 15 percent. So if there was a three-way poll, the whole region’s average figure of those supporting independence (43 percent) would win hands down. Most of the rest (14 percent) favoured making the LoC a permanent border, which means sealing the status quo, something India and Pakistan came very close to doing in 2007. This 14 percent comes only from Poonch (94 percent), Rajouri (100 percent) and Jammu (39 percent).

Further, they did not mention that in the district-wise results the greatest support for independence was in the Indian side of the Valley – an astounding 95 percent in Baramulla, 75 percent in Srinagar, 82 percent in Badgam, and 74 percent in Anantnag. Pulwama and Kupwara were not surveyed. The highest support for India was 80 percent in Kargil and 67 percent in Leh, 73 percent in Udhampur and 63 percent in Kathua. In Jammu district, it was 47 percent – ‘no majority’. In Azad Kashmir, 50 percent wanted to be with Pakistan.

Now read the ET headline again. ‘Kashmir survey finds no majority for independence’. The story does not tell us what they found a majority supporting. If we have to be polite, we can say that such manipulative reporting of a detailed survey amounts to the Indian media being in denial of the fact that Kashmiris don’t want to be with India. If we have to call a spade a spade, we can say that this amounts to telling us a lie.”

Many Kashmiris will not like this suggestion. They will say they want                                 nothing but azadi; they will say that they do not identify themselves as                               Indians and cannot be forced to do so, with or without the Indian Army on                           their rooftops. They will say that too much water has flowed down the                                 Jhelum, carrying their blood in it, for them to simply start waving the Indian                     flag. The Kashmiri says he is willing to struggle this way for generations to                       be free from India. In other words, Kashmir will continue to burn for a long,                       long time to come.”

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