Richard Shapiro

From Greater Kashmir: “Governing Kashmir” 

“India’s refrain to the people of Kashmir is as follows: Indian rule of Kashmir is legitimate because India is a secular democratic republic, organized by rule of law and constitutionally guaranteed human rights. As a democratic state, rule of law may be suspended for national security reasons to protect the state, and such action has been necessary in Kashmir because of cross-border terrorism and ‘separatist’ elements in Kashmir that includes armed militants. The suspension of democratic rights in Kashmir, India states, is necessary to protect India as a secular democratic republic. Elections are periodically held and touted as proof of democracy in India, but without a vibrant civil society ensuring social freedoms, electoral processes obfuscate the subjection of Srinagar to New Delhi and give Indian governance greater legitimacy than if the center took official control over the state of Jammu & Kashmir.”

“Kashmiris are citizens of India who are denied the rights of citizens to protect the state as the guarantor of rights. Law and order demands the denial of democratic rights to the people of Kashmir. Freedom of assembly and movement, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of press, freedom of religion are the basic rights that make India a legitimate state, and it is precisely these rights that must be denied all Kashmiris because when Kashmiris exercise these rights it is considered evidence of the anti-national sentiment of Kashmiris.”

“If Kashmiris want to prove themselves as loyal citizens of India than they must agree to not exercise the rights that are in principle available to the citizens of India. If Kashmiris want to prove their loyalty they must sacrifice their human rights and civil liberties for the protection of ‘Greater India’.”

“To be pro-India requires that Kashmiris renounce their rights as citizens. To demand equal rights and rule of law is to be anti-India. To belong to the nation you must accept subjugation to the military and paramilitary legitimated by national security.”

“Responsibility for violence rests firmly on the shoulders of India, evidenced in the unprecedented militarization of daily life in Kashmir, the long history of brutality with impunity, the systemic exploitation of the people and resources of Kashmir, surveillance, humiliation, the suppression of civil liberties and the innumerable atrocities against a civilian population understood to be ‘integral’ to India.  India  has not simply acted to protect its borders and combat armed insurgents.  India  has criminalized Kashmiri civilians, viewing every Kashmiri as equivalent to Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, or Pakistani agents. The overwhelming presence of military personnel is not necessary to protect borders and defeat armed militants. Such force is necessary to dominate an entire people whose right to determine its own future has been recognized by the United Nations, international law, and the founders of modern India.”

“What makes the Kashmiri the enemy is precisely that as Muslim, dominant Indian discourse fails to distinguish between Kashmiri Muslim, Pakistani national, terrorist, once Mughal rulers, mujahedeen from Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda jihadist. Such indistinction in thought is state racism. To deterritorialize Islam into a monolithic homogeneity divorced from the particularity of culture, history, and politics furthers the communalization of Indian society and legitimates Indian dominance of Kashmir as a national security imperative.”

“The policy of India continually shouts to each and every Kashmiri. “You are our enemy. We are here to protect you.” In the face of such impossibility, additionally each Kashmiri must be a citizen by virtue of ‘agreeing’ to forfeit the rights of citizenship or be anti-national by demanding the rights afforded free people. The Kashmiri is told, “If you want us to treat you more humanely, stop demanding human rights.” “If you want a future, stop acting to determine your future.” “If you want life, accept our right to determine life and death.”

“To resolve the law and order problem starts with removing the military and paramilitary from its role in Kashmiri civil society, drawing back and reducing troops to police the borders, and allowing civil society to express itself without fear of reprisal toward determination of its own future. There is no law and order without a foundation in freedom of speech, press, assembly and movement. Law and order in Kashmir can only find its legitimacy in supporting the pursuit of justice, enhancing freedom, and enabling the riches inherent in different cultural legacies — to live, to be, to learn, and to change. The obstacle to law and order in Kashmir is the same as the obstacle to justice, freedom, and cultural survival. That obstacle is Indian rule. The first step in removing this obstacle is immediate demilitarization of Kashmiri society.”


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