Shivam Vij

From Kafila, “Dilemmas of ‘Right of Nations to Military Occupation’

“I support the Kashmiri azadi movement – because I think that keeping a whole people forcibly part of India does not come from the values of the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution. The occupation of Kashmir continues in the name of the people of India, and as one of them, I consider my hands to have some of that blood. For the reasons I have listed [below], I think that the dilemmas in Kashmir are not about the right of nations to self-determination but the right of nations to military occupation.”

1) Identity, not oppression

“They, the Indian nationalists, say that Indian oppression is a result of Kashmiris having picked up the gun. Indian human rights abuse is justified in this narrative because Kashmiris picked up the gun first. In the Kashmiri narrative they picked up the gun because Indian democracy failed them – India rigged a local election in 1987, and no Indian nationalist dares to deny that today. The head of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir-based United Jihad Council, which is a coalition of militant groups trying to liberate Kashmir from India, is Syed Salahuddin. Who is he? He was one of the leaders of the Muslim United Front that contested the 1989 elections under the Indian Constitution. Kashmiris will tell you that their history and memory of disenchantment with India did not begin in 1989; they will tell you about Maqbool Bhat and Sheikh Abdullah; that there was something of a movement always; that it goes back to not only 1947 but, as Mridu Rai’s book shows, to 1931. Some say it’s even older.

The root of the Kashmir conflict is not oppression but identity. Kashmiris don’t see themselves as Indian. Many Indians don’t understand this. We wonder what their problem is. We think of the historic ties. After all our first prime minister was a Kashmiri!”

2) If this is not colonisation, what is?

“Is Kashmir not under foreign occupation? What are seven lakh troops there, on streets and in bazaars, outside homes and on private land occupied illegally and in the houses of the Pandits who left – what are these troops doing if not occupying territory? Are seven lakh troops in civilian areas fighting the 500 militants India says are still active in the Valley? For a Kashmir perspective on colonisation, see Sameer Bhat’s article on the beginning of occupation. Look carefully at his style of telling the story of 27 October 1947. 27 October every year in Kashmir, like the Indian national independence day of 15 August, is a general strike. The two days are commemrated as ‘black’ days. In your narrative, however, you see the problem of militarisation as only one of human rights abuse, not as occupation. I am guessing you have never been to Kashmir. On my visits I regularly hear things like, “Yeh saala CRPF wala Rajasthan se aata hain aur hamsay kehta hain ID card dikhao. (This bloody CRPF trooper has come here from Rajasthan and asks me to show my identity card).” Travelling in Kashmir, you have to close your eyes to believe that the forces stationed there are to prevent violence rather than enforce the idea in every local mind:this is Indian territory.”

3) What does Azadi mean?

“Partition was done, and the new Republic of India had a Constituent Assembly that put the task of nation building on the back-burner to debate and discuss for four years – four years! – the idea of India and come to a consensus called the Constitution of India. I don’t see why you should deny the people of Jammu and Kashmir this opportunity? Perhaps there may be Partition – parts of Jammu who want to be with India and are contiguous with India can remain with India. Perhaps they may choose to be with an independent J&K. To say that Kashmiris don’t know what azadi means and that India in contrast is ‘at least constitutionally democratic and secular’ is so ironic, if not dishonest, because you haven’t yet given the Kashmiris a chance at constitution-making, and presumed that they may not do so, not be able to do so, or that if they do they will reject democracy and secularism. I don’t know what these presumptions are based on.”

For more points and the full text click here.



  1. It is painful to know that the Kashmir valley, that is considered to be heaven on earth in terms of its beauty, is suffering due to this unabashed Indian occupation, not only in terms of the human loss and the psychology of the newer generations, but also in the loss of beauty this land once had!

  2. Pakistan government, has on paper at least, kept the issue alive on all international forums, but what needs to be done actively is the strong public media propagation by people like us. Just keep writing about it, in local and international media so that they can never come to an oppressive closure for Kashmir under any international pressure.

    All the best!

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