Was speaking at the India Today Enclave with Amir Khan. But then attended a panel where Yasin Malik was speaking. For those that do not remember, Yasin was at one time the leader of the most feared terrorist group in Kashmir. Now he is a political leader looking for peace and reconciliation with India and Pakistan, because he believes that the future of the youth of Kashmir depends upon the two nations coming to terms. But he still supports the right of the Kashmiri’s to decide on their own future, even if it meant an independent Kashmir. A few years ago if he was seen in Delhi he would been shot in sight by the armed forces. So full marks to India Today for having the courage to bring such disparate views on the same platform as Finance Minister Chidambaram, and even on the same dias as a member of India’s Parliament…
… but second, Yasin delivered a completely impassioned and moving speech about the state of the youth in Kashmir, their fears and aspirations, their desire for better leadership. He also spoke of his own life, his fleeing form the armed forces, capture, solitary confinement and of the friends that he lost in the fighting. And how he realized now that if everything needed to be achieved it could only be done through negotiation and reconcilliation. It was a moving moving speech. No one asked him any questions (after all there was Priety Zinta on the Dias too !) and so I did one :
” Have you forgiven ?”
And he said there was absolutely no other way. At the end of the speech he walked over to me and gave me a big genuine hug and said thank you. Invited me to come and speak to the youth of Kashmir, including those that were terrorists once.
As he left, a young girl came to me brimming with anger. Along with a man who worked with India Today. Both were kashmiri Pundits who had seen themselves ousted forcibly and sometimes cruelly from their homeland. I have met many Kashmiri Pundit’s- some of them my friends who believe they are truly the forgotten people. The young girl was as moving as Yasin as she held back her tears, andgry that Yasin was allowed this platform without the audience being told of the atrocities that he and his comrades perpetuated on Kashmiri Pundits. I coudl totally see her point of view.
Later as I was having tea with Priety Zinta she also expressed apprehensions about being on the same platform as Yasin. her father died in the Army and her brother has been fighting and risking his life in Kashmir.
O Kashmir ! Once the paradise without the beauty of which no Hindi film was complete. Who’s people people were once considered the gentlest and the most beautiful. The vision of kashmir was that of little girls with baby sheep in their arms waving as you drove by. And who could forget the Kashmiri Shawl wala that went from one Punjabi household to another bring news of long lost friends ? Ofcouse cleverly outnegotiating my mother while she was lost in emotion !
What happened ?
I think there will never be a solution in Kashmir if there is no forgiveness. Like the Truth and Reconcilliation process and South Africa. India and Pakistan must come to terms with each other and accept the current division as permanent. Of course it is permanent ! Pakistan and India must let go of using kashmir as the excuse to fight each other. Neither nation can afford it in any case.
I do not see an Independant Kashmir as a viable state. I do not agree with Yasin there. In the current political unrest, stuck as it is between some of the most explosive political arena’s in the world, Kashmir will be engulfed in the turmoill of it’s neighboring states.
It’s time to bring peace back to Kashmir. It is time to bring back the romanticism of ‘Kashmir ki Kali’. It is time to enfold Kashmir in the process of economic development that Inda is going through,