Trust deficit increasing with each passing day in Kashmir: Civil society team
Kashmiris are normal human beings, their Azadi demand is self generated: Bar
-By M.A. Parray (Kashmir Reader)
Tells ‘independent’ visiting team headed by Aiyer that any solution to J&K dispute which is against people’s wishes will be undemocratic; calls for ‘intensive, sincere’ dialogue among stakeholders to resolve it
Srinagar: The people of Kashmir are normal human beings who are capable of thinking for themselves and their demand for Azadi is ‘self-generated’, the Kashmir High Court Bar Association on Friday told an Indian team that is in Kashmir to “independently” assess the situation.
Headed by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, the ten-member Indian team also includes journalist Prem Shankar Jha, social activist Shabnam Hashmi, and former Air vice-marshal Kapil Kak. The team met with members of the Bar Association at the association’s room in the J&K High Court complex. Members of the Bar association told the Indian team that people will not surrender before the might of New Delhi. They said that any solution to Jammu and Kashmir problem will be undemocratic if it is not in conformity with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiri people.
“Since we are among them, the bar association is with the people and with their aspirations and sentiments. We believe it is a problem which needs resolution,” senior advocate Zaffar A Shah started the conversation.
“There was Track-II diplomacy, there were wars and so many international agreements and pressures, yet we are not able to find a solution to this problem. This state of affairs is very unfortunate and we believe it will continue. It has consumed many generations and it will continue to consume many generations,” he said.
The injured kids who were in hospitals, Zaffar Shah said, were of ages 15 to 19.
“It means that they were born post 1990. They are the children who were born in grief and brought up in hate. That is why they are on the streets of Kashmir. We need to recognize it as a fact and address that issue,” he said, while underlining that the Bar Association was not a political party “that can tell you that this solution is right and that solution is right.”
“We emphasise that it needs a solution and what possible solution there can be can be discussed. The historical solutions are there but it depends on parties to accept that solution. There have been Track-II diplomacy and out-of-the-box solutions but none worked. We can’t ignore Pakistan as it is a necessary party to the dispute. We have India and we have people of Kashmir but for some reason or the other, we have not been able to find any solution so far,” he said, emphasising that “so much of pain and suffering in Kashmir is only to impress upon these two countries to come and see that something is done.”
“All of us are normal human beings like you. We also want to live in peace. There has to be intensive effort through the mechanism of dialogue process, which was initiated at some stage with different kinds of leaders in New Delhi with different kinds of signals,” he said.
“This is not a state which is in peace with the country which says it is its integral part. This outer manifestation which you see on the streets among the people is actually to indicate to the two countries that let us have some solution to that problem. What possible solution can it be cannot be suggested by me or you. One easy solution in the democracy is to ask the people. Should Mr Aiyer suggest the solution or should it come from above or should it rise from within? If it has to rise within, then you have to ask the people, but if you don’t want that and instead throw it from above, it will not work. Is there any solution from above? None accept status quo, which is no solution at all,” he said.
Shah said that he was “so glad” to hear that the visiting team was independent of any political party.
“You are independently trying to access the situation, otherwise one would assume that you come from India and have bias towards India — that look, this will lead to separation of JK from India. If you start looking on those terms, then we will have parallel lines which will not meet. Somebody has to call a spade a spade,” he said and asked the team whether the millions of people who do not want to be with India are to be heard or not to be heard?
“Will you continue killing them, oppressing them, in one form or the other, whether in the name of communalism or one ism or another ism? Will you continue to shift the responsibility by saying look, these millions of people are not asking for azadi on their own, Pakistan is telling them to ask for azadi, as if we are not people who can think. It has a misleading effect on people in India,” he said, and drew attention of the team to debates on television in India.
“People do not get the truth. We are happy that you are here to see what common man is asking, what is his sentiment. When you say us, what we want, we want the resolution of this problem. We don’t want you to construe this problem only in terms of collateral issues. I might say please stop the pellet gun but it is only an immediate cause. It is not a solution. I may say to you please withdraw the AFSPA but is not a solution. We need to have an intensive process where with all sincerity efforts are made by all the stakeholders to find a solution to this problem.”
Shah said that if India does want plebiscite then it should come up with a solution that is acceptable to the people of the state.
“And if you think that you can have a solution that you can put to the people, it will be rejected by them. Let the solution come from the people of Jammu and Kashmir. You don’t listen to UN, you don’t listen to international community, no options, no choices, then what do we do? You have gun in the hands of forces and you have stone in the hands of the other side. The two are completely mismatched,” he said.
“People will look for other alternatives, whatever they may be, for survival. We can’t have a situation where 70 persons are killed and then we will have normalcy and again a hundred people are killed and we will have normalcy. Through you, who I believe are self thinking people, have some ideals in life, who believe generally in democracy, listen to the people and that you can’t keep people under subjugation for all times to come. If people don’t want to be with India, you can’t insist. If you bring national interests and say I will not leave Kashmir, then it will be anti-democratic, meaning thereby that you are not listening to the people and that you are not interested in people at all.”
Mian Qayoom, the president of the lawyers’ body, informed the team that they had a prior meeting on whether to meet them or not.
“I would like to tell you that we met and discussed whether we should meet you at all. In the past, we have seen that a number of people came and met us and then do nothing but only to come again to see whether people might have got fatigued that they will give up their birthright,” he said, adding, “Once we meet you, we want to tell you that till such time, Kashmir issue is not settled in accordance with the wishes of people, we will continue to fight against India. Take it from me. In the process we might be eliminated. They have weapons and all the laws. We are suffering for seventy years and so long as we don’t get right of self determination, we will continue to fight whether we succeed or not. We want India to honour commitments and promises made to us.”
Responding to a query by the delegation that there should be some frameworks, Qayoom said that till 1962 there were six rounds of talks between Sardar Swarna Singh and ZA Bhutto. “What happened? There were different negotiations and in Tashkent when the talks were going to fail, Alexei Kosygin (Soviet premier) interfered, he said that I will not leave Lal Bahadur Shastri and General Ayub Khan to leave this place without an agreement,” he said.
Ayoub Khan said that what will be guarantee that it will be accepted by India and he was told that “this will be a bible for Security Council and they will accept what we agreed here.”
“Tashkent did not produce any result. Then you executed Shimla agreement and that too at our back and it did not work either.”
He said that Tashkent agreement says that principle and charter of UN shall govern the relation between India and Pakistan and that the two countries will settle their difference by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by other means mutually agreed to them.
“It can be a third party negotiation also. It can be America also. Norway yesterday said we are ready to interfere in this matter. While America for petty interests is not saying it, other people are saying it. It has to be mutually agreed. The preference is given to bilateral negotiations and that has to be mutually agreed,” he said. Aiyer responded by insisting that there was still scope for bilateral negotiations.
“You should understand that Mr P Chidambaram, the former home minister of India, has suggested that we should go back to terms of accession and I think we should move forward,” Aiyer said, adding, “If you think only way forward is to go back to United Nations, then we see where it goes”.
To this Shah responded: “When I talk of choice, our perceptions are totally different. Don’t you think that the present struggle is for choice? You are ignoring the people and thinking of national interest,” he said.