The people of Kashmir and large parts of the north-east have for decades been subject to the rule of a power they consider alien. That this power should be the government of India is particularly disheartening – the people of India know what it means to have no freedom in their own homes and backyards; at least, one would think that we should.
Why should the Kashmiri people forgo their right to self-determination? Is it because they happen to be stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time, all the time? Is it because we are only protecting them from what we know to be a threat to them (but they don’t)? Didn’t the missionaries who wanted to civilize us heathen have a similar reasoning? Or is it perhaps because the politicians on either side of the Kashmiris are jerks who cannot keep their dicks in their pants? (I mean no offence to the women on either side intent on screwing the Kashmiri people over, of course; the dicks referred to are only proverbial. Even otherwise, evidence seems to suggest that they would be too small to matter, or politicians in India and Pakistan would be using them, instead of their mouths).
The politicians of 21st century India who rail against the colonial attitude of the west and the ‘moral and cultural depravity of the west’ are also the same politicians who adopt the ”Kashmir is an integral part of India, and anybody who says otherwise is an enemy of the state” line. One would have hoped for a few sensible people in India’s parliament of 543 who would voice a more reasoned, reasonable argument, but one learns to live with disappointment in a country like India. A country where we seem to have made peace with the idea that democracy is the rule of the few powerful over the vast majority of the powerless, with the only choice in the matter being whether the people choose the devil or the deep blue sea.
Among the more abominable gifts of the people of power in India to the Indian polity is the alienation of large sections of the aboriginal people of the subcontinent, the adivasis, from their right to liberty, their right to the land of their forefathers, their right to life. When these people do manage to raise their starved voices, they are branded Maoists or Naxalites, locked up, without legal recourse, for years on end thanks to the draconian AFSP Act. Forget illegal searches and seizures; forget probable cause and the assumption of good faith; the act allows police and army officers to basically shoot at whim – officers of the state can shoot people they ‘suspect’ of being naxalites first, and not be asked too many questions later. Which is all right, I guess, because law-enforcement in this country has a stellar record of respecting human rights and civil liberties. Or Not. There is a reason the average Indian mistrusts the police and would do almost anything before they have to visit a police station.
Why do the adivasis have to give up their land for the sake of progress which gets measured by how much money the richest man in India has, rather than by how many millions of India’s poor die of starvation? Or lack the most basic facilities of sanitation? Or lack education and employment? Why should the people of Singur give up their land so that Tata can build a factory and make a fortune? A fortune, it must be noted, no part of which would go to the displaced people themselves. Why do the people of the Narmada valley be displaced from their lands, and have their fields submerged, so that the people of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar can have water at the turn of a tap? Why should the adivasis of Orissa or Chattisgarh let themselves be forced off their forests which have sheltered them, which they have sheltered? Why should they give up their hills, the gods that they worship so that Vedanta can mine the hills down to the ground? Why?
And, when all these things are done without their voices being heard, how do we blame them if they take up arms?