Why do we want Kashmir, but not Kashmiris?

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On 14thFebruary 2019 India was rattled by a bomb blast in Pulwama District of Kashmir Valley that can be called one of the few biggest terror attacks in the history of India post Independence.  

Moments later, the Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad took responsibility of planning and undertaking the attack that soured the already difficult relations between India and Pakistan. Within no time, India withdrew its Most Favored Nation status from Pakistan and, in an effort to isolate it economically and politically, levied a 200% custom duty on Pak-imported goods. Days later, Prime Minister Imran Khan went on air to completely deny all the allegations of terrorism by the Indian government. He also reiterated that Pakistan will retaliate if India launches any attacks towards it while also stressing that internecine wars are always mutually destructive.

While the tension was escalating on the borders, this attack also destroyed the peace of the civilians living in mainland India. There were reports of Kashmiri girls being harassed and bullied in a hostel in Uttarakhand, many Kashmiri shops being closed and vandalized while a Kashmiri shawl vendor was repeatedly beaten up in West Bengal.

The issue of terrorism is a harsh reality that needs to be checked with full force and vigour but this needs to be realized that no good will come out of alienating and harassing Kashmiri citizens living in Indian cities. While an average Indian needs to be wary of indulging in terrorism apologia, it is also equally important to condemn jingoistic vigilantism. It is State’s responsibility to bring the perpetrators of terrorism to justice but innocent lives who did not partake in the incident in any way need not be dragged into this.

Many Kashmiri students from Universities all across India were reportedly sent back from the hostels to Jammu as they were getting violent threats. Many restaurants and hotels put up placards saying “Dogs can enter but Kashmiris cannot”. The Sikh community came forward to offer them food and shelter in a beautiful display of altruism the Sikh community is known for.

While the ruling government did take some measures towards curbing the terrorism in the valley like the mastermind of Pulwama terror attack was neutralized within days of the attack. But this continued cycle of violence will only result in further bloodshed. This is the hour to build a mutual dialogue and solve the issue of Kashmir once and for all; we owe it to our future generations.

The kind of alienation and harassment an average Kashmiri is facing on Indian streets for the deeds of a few misguided youth in the Valley will only turn them apprehensive towards Indian State if nothing else. This will further lead to an upsurge in the militancy of youth in the valley which will further deteriorate the conditions. It is the job of every responsible, law-abiding citizen of democratic India to embrace Kashmiris first if they believe Kashmir is an integral part of India.

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