Kashmir: Rahul Gandhi's proposals are meaningless
He enjoyed a jam-packed audience but Kashmiris are sick of listening to the same speeches for last six decades.
On October 4, the Indian National Congress General Secretary and the fourth scion of politically influential Nehru-Gandhi family, Rahul Gandhi visited Indian-administered Kashmir.
Rahul’s visit was mainly to alleviate the trust deficit, which has been mounting due to the recurrent abjuration of promises New Delhi has made so far vis-à-vis Kashmir.
The young Gandhi made it clear in his speech that he has come to empathise with the people of Kashmir. Well aware about how India has failed in reaching out to Kashmiris, Rahul said while addressing a large gathering,
“I want to establish a relationship with you and understand your pain. And I want Kashmiris to be part of growing India.”
History bears testimony to India’s insincere approach in forging ahead a peaceful solution of long-standing Kashmir dispute. Rahul’s emotional words seem to have fallen flat and obvious in the public spheres. He might have enjoyed a jam-packed audience but little did he know about the cynical nature of Kashmiris, who are bored of listening to the same speeches for the last six decades.
An editor of Kashmir’s widely circulated newspaper, Greater Kashmir, wrote in his column, “Rahul in Valley”,
“Rahul had nothing new to offer to the Kashmiris, he just wanted to sell the old wine in new bottle. This speaks volumes about the level of trust India has so far been able to develop in Kashmir.”
Had Rahul really been serious about understanding the pain of Kashmiris, he wouldn’t have restricted his empathy to his words on stage only, but would have been courteous enough to visit the families who are in profound grief, and bring the killers of their sons - the Indian security forces - to justice. His words would have surely attained honour had he bothered to console those mothers who lost 120 sons to bullets fired by the Indian forces during the 2010 Kashmir unrest.
Rahul has been working hard to reform youth politics in India, and apparently he intends to do the same in Kashmir. He had visited Kashmir last year also to rope in students to his political wing for students called the National Students Union of India (NSUI) of which he is the general secretary. His mobilisation ground for students' politics has been Kashmir University (KU), where students’ politics is banned by the university authorities.
Even the Kashmir University’s own students’ political party, Kashmir University Student’s Union (KUSU), is not allowed to operate on the campus openly as it has been banned for many years now.
To consolidate his political influence, young Rahul visited Kashmir University again along with top Indian business tycoons, Ratan Tata, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Ashok Reddy, Rajiv Bajaj and Deepak Parekh, three days ago.
The university was turned into a military garrison with heavy presence of security forces surrounding the premises, inside as well as outside. The students, both male and female, were told to show their ID’s and thoroughly checked for security. A student, Uzma, said,
“I was asked to even open my lunch-box by the police to check if there was any trouble causing stuff.”
While the scion was interacting with a certain group of students inside a heavily guarded convocation complex at the university, class work was hampered as other students protested against Rahul’s visit.
“We shouted slogans ─ go India, go back, go Rahul, go back. We want freedom”, said Obaid Ahmad (name changed), a Kashmir University student.
When the police intercepted them from moving towards the convocation complex, they stopped, circled the area and loudly started singing the Pakistani national anthem.
The Kashmir University authorities, mindful of what it could turn into if they allowed students at random to interact with Rahul Gandhi, had to start a process of ‘select neutral students’ for interaction.
English daily, Kashmir Reader, reported that the university authorities had issued a diktat to students interacting with Rahul Gandhi. The newspaper quoting a student, said,
“We were told not to ask any question about the Kashmir dispute and not to say ‘our Kashmir’ in the presence of the Indian political and business leaders,” the student added. “We were told to say ‘our India’.”
Rahul Gandhi talked of youth empowerment throughout his speech, but the strange part was, he didn’t express any concerns about the Kashmiri youth that has been jailed for years and months now on charges of stone-throwing. He didn’t talk about the continuous detention of teenagers under draconian laws.
The industrialists accompanying Rahul emphasised upon the point that it is for them to do something so that the Kashmiris become a part of the growth and development of India.
An aspiring political science scholar, Basharat, said,
“The promises made by business tycoons are nothing but the part and parcel of India’s neo-colonialistic agenda aimed at paving way for capitalism.”
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