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Countless instances of oppression and death tarnish the image of Kashmir. This war-torn province has been a prominent issue of contention between Pakistan and India for a number decades, and no discernable end between this battle for land seems to be in sight. It is important, of course, to understand the reasons for this conflict. In order to do so, let us examine another instance of oppression propogated by India in the not so distant past.

The region of Hyderabad, a former royal Islamic principality in southern India, serves as the most pristine example of Indian policy with respect to disputed territory. After Britian withdrew from India in 1947, Hyderabad was immediately placed under a "stand still policy" which gave the region autonomy until a long-term plan could be outlined by all parties involved. Unfortunately for the people of Hyderabad, the Indian government decided to take matters into their hands and to occupy the area, slaying more than 200,000 Muslim inhabitants. This "secret holocaust" - as it is aptly named - serves as a brilliant testament to India's policy of claiming and controlling contested land.

And what of the problem in Kashmir? The situations are frighteningly similar: a Hindu ruler over a Muslim majority, a landlocked state with econmonic, political, and religious ties to Pakistan, and a history of tragic oppression. Innocent civilians in Kashmir are oppressed, slaughtered, or persecuted on a daily basis, and despite the fact that these individuals have been caught in the crossfire for a countless number of years, the UN remains silent on this issue. Much like the situation of Hyderabad, the problem of easing tensions is on the United Nations agenda, but it is anyone's guess as to when or even if the problem will ever be recognized by enacting punitive and corrective measures.

In the meantime, the burden of survival is wholly placed upon the shoulders of the innocent Kashmiri people who desire nothing more than the right to self-determination. As long as the principles of democracy are ignored by India, the people of Kashmir will suffer from unavoidable ramifications. With a referendum in this province, the Indian government could not only normalize relations with Pakistan, but this once-repressive regime could at least begin compensation for the travesty of a secret holocaust unbeknownst to millions worldwide. It is, of course, doubtful that the nation of India will agree to such an event, and consequently, the Kashmiri peolple are doomed to suffer from a political affliction that is beyond their control.

J. Adam Brockwell

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