by Wajahat Farooq Bhat

When the first bullet was fired in Kashmir, at that moment, the resistance movement against Pakistani-sponsored terrorism began. And up till now, there has been just one resistance movement in Kashmir and that is against Pakistani terrorism at all levels, be it physical, psychological or moral.

Kashmiris are actually resisting the Pakistani terror invasion and occupation. A lot of people, especially innocent civilians of Jammu and Kashmir have sacrificed their lives in this resistance movement. And there is only one occupation going on and it is the continuous terrorism and occupation in Kashmir run by the Pakistani establishment.

Of course, Pakistan also continues to illegally occupy one part of Jammu and Kashmir. This needs to be clearly told. Kashmiris chose to live with the democratic republic of India in 1947 by emphatically rejecting the Two-Nation Theory much before the Bangladeshis actually did. They continued to reject it be it 1965 or 1971 when they sided with the Indian Army in response to Pakistani aggression. And they continue to reject this anti-human idea which creates hatred, barriers and divisions between fellow humans on the basis of religion.

Kashmiris’ brave resistance has continued to defy the imposed proxy terror war ever since 1988. This is reflected in the immense sacrifices given by Kashmiri civilians, policemen and soldiers. The Pakistani terror machinery has committed a mass murder of civilians in Jammu and Kashmir till now by killing locals in thousands. They have also forcibly driven out a significant portion of the population from the state in the form of Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims. It has resulted in total destruction of Kashmir’s social fabric. Using religious domination, because it is totalistic and tends to over-simplify, the Pakistani state has also managed to spectacularly destroy the cultural life of Kashmiris. Against Pakistan-backed terror and occupation, Kashmiris are also engaging in cultural and moral resistance besides physical resistance as they aim to reclaim their lost pluralistic identity and history.

A large percentage of Kashmiris, if not all, continue to defy this aggression. They continue to fight for and side with the idea of India. The Kashmiri people are a role model for everyone in the subcontinent and in the world. They have refused to be tricked by religious fanaticism. They continue to side with reason, decency, plurality and democracy as against theocracy and terrorism.

Pakistani establishment and its local proxy terror machinery need to realise that the language of terror can never dampen the spirit of plural Kashmiri ethos. Leaving aside politics, murdering innocent people is an extremely inhuman act anywhere and everywhere and must be condemned by everyone. And it is something that is sadly still going on which is reflected in the number of innocent civilians, political activists, journalists, intellectuals, off-duty policemen and soldiers being targeted routinely.

All these sections of the Kashmiri population are not found to be toying the line of terror; instead, they are defiant in the face of Pakistani terror and hence they pay the price. This is the only brutality that has been going on in Jammu and Kashmir for the last three decades. But this hardly gets noticed internationally because the Pakistani propaganda machinery has been so effective.

They have camouflaged every atrocity since they avail the services of fifth columnists, propagandists and white-collar terrorists. Radical organisations like Jamaat-e-Islami have also helped infuse terror with their distorted religious interpretation and it has become a lethal combination. If you want to see an example of fascism in the contemporary world anywhere, it is in Kashmir. The Pakistani state and its local extremist cohorts have used the fascistic ideas of religious purity and supremacy, in this case, Wahabi Islamic principles, to impose homogeneity through terror on a population against its wish. These ideals sometimes take the form of outright genocidal cries like Ghazwa-i-Hind wherein they harbour lethal fantasies of a complete holocaust of Non-Muslims and secular Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. This is the reality of this terror invasion which has been directed against India with Kashmir as its frontal target.

This concept and practice of terror have been weaponised to such an extent by the Pakistani deep state in Kashmir that the terrorists do not care about humanity or ethics at all. They have created ruthless, inhuman zombies using the power of religion who execute utter perfidy on the ground showing utter disregard for basic human decency and rights. But it is something that we Kashmiris who think rationally must confront head-on. After all, it is a fight between human decency and life pitted against death and destruction.

It goes without saying that most of the victims of Pakistan-sponsored terror occupation in Kashmir have been common Kashmiris while a small but significant rich group of elites has immensely benefitted from the tragedy. They have also managed to radicalise a small but significant portion of the Kashmiri population to be willing partners in terror and violence. They are the real collaborators in this Pakistani invasion and occupation which is bringing immense death, destruction and misery to the larger section of the Kashmiri populace, who are ironically their fellow compatriots.

This applies to all victims whether it is the Kashmiri civilians, policemen, security personnel, or even migrant labourers — some of whom were mercilessly killed by the terrorists in late 2021 and also before that. The poorer section of people like the ones who were brutally murdered certainly know no political and religious barriers. Their only concern is to survive amidst adversity by pouring their blood, sweat and tears and earning their livelihoods. But it is just another routine practice for Pakistan’s terror machinery in Kashmir to target this vulnerable section.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has always been characterised by communal harmony and rich traditions of brotherhood, which have stood the test of time even during the most horrendous phases of turmoil in the state. The Kashmiri culture dates back 5000 years in history. The Pakistani terror occupiers need a few lessons on how the secular and syncretic fabric of the valley has stood despite all the difficult circumstances. They forget the “light” that Mahatma Gandhi saw in Kashmir amidst all the dark chaos of the gory events of the Partition in 1947.

The idea of Pakistan, the terrorism it pumps into Kashmir and its continued occupation not only goes against the Kashmiri ethos but also against basic humanity. However, it is also imperative that each and every section of Kashmiri society rises in unison in forthrightly challenging Pakistan-sponsored terror. This realisation has to grow within the larger sections of Kashmiri society. For preserving the future of both Kashmir’s majority and minority communities, we need to delineate our lives, especially of our younger generation, from the growing religious extremism being driven by the Pakistani terrorist state and its proxies. We need to free Kashmir from Pakistan’s terror and occupation both physically, psychologically and morally.

Kashmiris defeated Pakistanis in 1947 and 1965; Inshallah, we will defeat them again in this great resistance against terrorism and occupation.

Wajahat Farooq Bhat is Chairman, Save Youth Save Future Foundation