Jag Venugopal's Blog

September 21, 2010

Let Kashmir go

Filed under: India — Jag @ 1:41 am

I read the New York Times article on India’s struggling to contain the unrest in the Kashmir valley. A parliamentary delegation recently visited the area in a desperate search for a solution. Doubtless in the next few days, we’ll hear more bromides about Kashmir’s tolerant version of Islam, the need for a healing touch, how the Army is rough-handling the Kashmiris, etc. Much more money will be added to the huge amounts already being doled out to Kashmir, by a poor government that cannot ensure health, sanitation and water for a majority of its other citizens.

I’ll offer a simple reason for the continuing unrest in Kashmir: They don’t want to be part of India. Inducements of money can buy temporary peace; however as with drug addiction, each new injection requires higher and higher amounts of the drug for the same high.

The Kashmiris aren’t necessarily bad people. Neither are the rest of India. They just don’t want us. Its time we realized, and cut the cord. Jammu and Leh, which never had a problem integrating with India should be their own state, which would complete its integration with the nation, without the need for any special constitutional provisions. Further, Kashmir should be given outright independence, without the need for any plebiscite or negotiations. Given that Kashmiris want nothing to do with India, the rest of India should reciprocate as well. There is no need for negotiation, peace dialogues, trade, commerce, nonsensical initiatives like “Aman Ki Asha” etc. Just a straightforward excision with no further relationship with India. If the Kashmiris want access to ports, electricity, trade, commerce, markets, etc, India can definitely provide that on terms advantageous to it. “Want port access? Sure, here’s the toll we want. Want access to our markets? Certainly. Here’s our list of tariffs.” And to prevent further infiltration from rebels trained and funded from across the Pakistani or Kashmiri borders, Kashmir should be cut off from India using the same fence that now runs along the border areas with Pakistan.

As a responsible and mature democracy, India has to put a stop to the daily battles in Kashmir. Indian troops should risk their lives only for areas where they are wanted and appreciated, and where the risk to their lives is worth taking. The values of a billion people should be strong enough to survive a mere three million or so that want to leave. The money being poured into the valley can be better put to use in India’s cities and villages, where the millions will appreciate the luxuries of Indian life such as clean water, sanitation and a semblance of health care.

It is likely that Kashmir will merge with Pakistan in a short period of time, but that ought to be a matter between the Kashmiris and the Pakistanis. The Kashmiris ought to be careful of what they wish for… they might just get it; but for India’s sake, let go of Kashmir.

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