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