Kashmir: people should have choice

Mohammad Ziaul Haque

Referendum usually offers the electorate a choice of accepting or rejecting a proposal, be it adopting a new Constitution, a new national anthem  or anything that requires the consent of the masses (and not only of their elected leaders in case of a democratic country).

Since July 9, after the killing of Burhan Muzzafer Wani, the widespread protest across Kashmir valley has unnerved Delhi and the state government. In addition to the popular demand of aazadi (by direct means), there is another word on everyone’s mind and that is “referendum”. In  case of Kashmir, referendum is not about adopting a new Constitution or national anthem, but about deciding the future of this state (as promised by first Prime Minister of India) which has always been a flash point between the two nuclear giants, India and Pakistan. During the last two and a half decade this word has claimed more than a hundred thousand lives in this small Himalayan region called Kashmir.

Over the years, we have witnessed several referendums taking place around the world for different reasons. The latest being the one in Scotland, which took place on 18 September 2014. The irony is that  when the first pledge that people of Kashmir would determine their future through a referendum was endorsed in 1947, the Scottish National Party was not even born.They had no representation in UK’s parliament. But after 70 years while the referendum in Kashmir is still in abeyance, the Scottish people have voted in UK’s favour already.  The result, though a little bit surprising, was not shocking at all, keeping the sincere efforts of the then UK government in mind. I still remember the then Prime minister David Cameron begging the Scottish people to remain in the Union. The debates and discussions during Scotland’s demand for independence were passionate, yet peaceful. There was no use of force against those who demanded freedom. Perhaps this was the reason the Scottish people chose the Union  over independence. Imagine Prime minister David Cameron acting like our “Jamhuriyat passand” and “Insaniyat pasand” Prime Minister as a mute spectator. Had the home minister of UK ordered his troops to neutralise the movement of Scottish National Party like Rajnath Singh did in Kashmir. Had Britain blamed Germany of brainwashing the Scottish people? Just imagine the UK government using bullets, teargas shells, PAVA shells and the supposedly “non-lethal” pellet guns on unarmed Scottish people. Surely, in that case the result would have been entirely different. But not a single person was injured before, during or after the referendum. This all happens in Kashmir. Yes, ask for a referendum and see people being blinded, maimed and killed in the name of national security.Go through the comment section of any news regarding Kashmir and see the people of the largest democracy seem to be hugely enjoying the massacre of Kashmiris at the hands of Indian army like an IPL game.

The value of people’s choice is what we should learn from the West, if not anything else. The West does not punish people for making a choice as India is doing in Kashmir.

The writer is pursuing Masters in
Aligarh Muslim University. He may be contacted at 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 October 2016 on page no. 11

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