This refers to your cover story Why can’t we Solve Kashmir? (March 4). We have to be realistic about the Kashmir dispute and India-Pakistan relations. Jingoism, bellicosity and sabre-rattling will only make things worse. First of all, we must all agree on avoiding more loss of life, a negotiated resolution of the Kashmir dispute and the need for normalisation of India-Pakistan relations. We need to assert our basic humanity and say that the life of every human being, be it that of a militant or a member of government forces, is equally precious. Steps need to be taken to change the conditions that incubate militancy in the Valley. The deeply disquieting ways used by government forces to eliminate militants from the Valley actually breed more militants. Militancy is better fought by confronting its causes. If the Kashmiri youth line up for recruitment to the army, it has more to do with unemployment and desperation for survival than with any zeal ‘to serve the tricolour’. New Delhi has to seriously consider the demand for the right to more autonomy so as to fulfil the political aspirations of Kashmiri people, and assure them that Kashmir’s distinct identity will be preserved and protected.
The two countries that share a common destiny and need peace to unlock their economic potential should see each other as neighbours and partners, and not as adversaries or enemies. The growing chorus for isolating or boycotting Pakistan is misplaced and unwise. It used to be said that ‘terror and talks don’t go together’ and now it is said that ‘coffins and cricket don’t go together’. We should not let our moral compass be shaken or shrunk by forms of devotion such as nationalism and religion.
G. David Milton, Maruthancode
A 21-year-old Kashmiri ‘Indian’ was killed while carrying out the attack that left so many Indian paramilitary men dead. Why are Indian jawans dying for the nation, while young Kashmiri Indians are dying fighting against them? Every death is a loss for our motherland. What is drawing these young people to terrorism? And what was it that ensured there was no actionable intelligence about 300 kg of explosives being collected, transported and used to assemble an IED, or about the recce and rehearsals that must have preceded the attack? What is it that ensured the forces were in the dark about all this happening despite the intense military, intelligence and police deployment in the Valley? There is a big difference between sacrificing our soldiers for the nation and getting them butchered because of this incompetence. Salute to the bravehearts who got no time to display their bravery.
J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad
If you ask me, the solution lies in commerce and economics rather than politics, diplomacy and armed escalations. If dialogue has to take place, it should be between apex bodies of commerce and industry of India and Pakistan. Free trade and regulated movement of citizens across the border, akin to Nepal, would lead to normalised cordial relations between two countries. The port city of Karachi would prosper, business centres will flourish, the trading community will benefit and consumers will be happy. In that event, vested interests and strong public opinion in favour of peace across the border and cordial relations with India would emerge.
It is sad that our leaders have failed to show statesmanship to solve the Kashmir issue. According to journalist and writer Sanjaya Baru (in his book The Accidental Prime Minister), Manmohan Singh had almost resolved the legacy of history where both Indira and Rajiv had failed. Baru felt that Sonia Gandhi wanted to wait till Rahul became PM so that he could claim credit. If so, people of India cannot forgive the grand old party for such narrow mindedness.
Nitin M. Majumdar, On E-Mail
Why do educated youth in Kashmir choose to take arms? It’s the side of the conflict that gets drowned in aggressive TRP-driven coverage by the mainstream media. Ever since the Indian Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani was located and killed, the Indian army has adopted a policy of locating and killing militants as well as those who come to rescue them when cordon and search operations are carried out at several places in Kashmir. Since then, there has been a continuous cycle of violence in the Valley and protests erupt every day with growing support for the militants and the freedom struggle that they represent. The Indian army’s highest officer, General Bipin Rawat, made it clear in 2017 that whosoever appears at sites where militants are trapped and tries to help them escape would be treated as an OGW (Overground worker, a term used for those who come to rescue militants or work for them). The General further stated that any such civilians would be treated the same as any militant holding a gun. Apparently, such stringent public declarations have given Indian forces a free hand to kill people in Kashmir and justify the civilian killings.
The new trend which has been adopted by the armed forces not only goes against the humanitarian ethics and values but also has been prohibited under Rule 113 of Geneva Conventions which clearly states, “Each party to the conflict must take all possible measures to prevent the dead from being despoiled. Mutilation of dead bodies is prohibited.”
Yasir Altaf Zargar, Srinagar
The cover question merits another question: Is anyone even interested in solving Kashmir?
Anil S., Pune
The backlash on Kashmiris after the Pulwama attack is most unfortunate (No Rules In War-mongering, March 4). In this context, I had a personal experience recently. A Kashmiri gentleman, who comes to my home from year to year, with his exquisite range of shawls, visited me. On being asked how he was, his eyes welled up with tears. His family was the target of the brutality that was unleashed by right-wing goons in Dehradun. His silent gaze shamed me deeply. It is for all of us to realise that such incidents only alienate a community further and spur radicalisation. The need of the hour is empathy, not muscle; compassion, not brute force. And above all, it cannot be forgotten that the perpetrator of Pulwama was an Indian, a Kashmiri. Kashmir is a festering wound. Mere Pakistan bashing is not going to lead us anywhere. Nothing probably can be more obsolete than violence as a means to achieve peace. Any solution to the Kashmir conflict can happen only in partnership with the people of Kashmir, not against them. The buck doesn’t stop at Pakistan. The buck stops with us.
Sangeeta Kampani, New Delhi
Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K. Palaniswamy has stolen a march over well-entrenched dynast and DMK president M.K. Stalin by forging a mega alliance with the BJP and the PMK (Silently With A Smile, Mar 4). The DMDK, Vasan’s Tamil Manila Congress and a few smaller parties will likely join the coalition. Thus, EPS has adumbrated a canny coalition formula for the Lok Sabha polls: if coalition partners demand constituencies of their choice, they will have to accept the number of seats offered. If they don’t, AIADMK will be generous in allotting them an adequate number of seats. Palaniswamy has thus bulldozed the BJP into accepting just five seats in constituencies of the BJP’s choice! Surprisingly, a copycat DMK has adopted the same formula vis-à-vis the Congress. EPS’s key strategy is to get the support of all coalition partners for the bypolls to the 21 vacant seats that may be held along with the LS polls, so that he could continue as chief minister for the rest of the term.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This is about the cover story Law Is A Bully (Feb 25). Many writers, journalists, activists and politicians have delineated with arguments their case against the NSA, UAPA and sedition laws. These critics have skewered the above laws by pitting them against freedom of speech and the right to dissent. But then, everyone should be careful that while expressing dissent they don’t cross a limit. If a group of people demands absolute sovereignty, with an intention to create a new nation, what is to be done? It’s undeniable that freedom of speech is important in a democracy, but then laws can be misused too…. Therefore, the way ahead would be to formulate a mechanism without much ado to prevent the abuse of power through draconian laws, instead of just repealing them. This is because a flat repeal of laws would encourage all manner of people to go ahead and speak thoughtlessly, harming the unity of the country.
Indu S. Dube, Varanasi
The babes of Outlook’s Glitterati—a long-standing tradition of the magazine—is a favourite section of mine, providing relief from the gravitas that usually makes up the rest of the magazine. Take the superbly written ‘item’ on Esha Gupta, for example (Monkey On Her Back, Feb 11). It’s worth drooling over. Long live the brave, bindaas army of bodilicious sirens who make our boring ‘man’s’ world a trifle interesting!
Jyotiranjan Biswal, Durgapur
Refer to The Eternal Rebel Friend (Feb 11), Yashwant Sinha’s tribute to the late George Fernandes. Fernandes was a fiery trade union leader once and would have been irrelevant in these communally charged times.
Giri Raj, Hyderabad