Thursday, July 19, 2012

Aakar Patel: Why India gets away in Kashmir

The writer is a director with Hill Road Media and a former editor of the Mumbai-based English newspaper Mid Day and the Gujarati paper Divya Bhaskar

Kashmiris resent, quite rightly, the intrusive presence of India’s jawans on their streets. But the jawans don’t want to be there. New Delhi doesn’t want the jawans there either. So why are they there? India says the army is in Kashmir because of terrorists, who can only be handled militarily. This is only partially true. The reason the army is deployed in Srinagar city is to block its citizens from coming out on the streets and demanding azadi, as they did in the early 90s.

If Kashmiris would elect their leaders and not demand azadi, the army would go away. This is what the Indian government wants, and is desperate to do, but too embarrassed to say. This is not debated in India’s media either because, since Pakistan is involved, we have fed ourselves myths about how the problem in Kashmir is the creation not of India but Pakistan.

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