Justice Markandey Katju –
Everybody seems to be clamoring for revenge for the killing of the Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Pulwama, this jingoism being fueled by all political parties with an eye on the coming Lok Sabha elections.
But what does ‘revenge’ really mean?
The culprits who abetted this deed have melted away into the Kashmiri masses. So it is hardly possible to trace them.. The truth is that due to continuous stupidity of our political leaders over decades the Kashmiri people are almost all totally alienated from India and bitterly hostile to it. The militants may be only a few hundred in number, but they get sanctuary, shelter, food and intelligence from the Kashmiri masses, who are their sympathizers. As is said, “The people are the sea, and the guerrillas are the fish who swim in it.” So nothing can be done against the real culprits since they have disappeared.
There is the talk of attacking Pakistan, but then it is nuclear power. Also, another ‘surgical strike’ is not possible. The earlier surgical strike was like a man stealthily entering someone’s house at night, slapping him when he is sleeping, and running away. But that cannot be repeated. Now the Pakistan army will be on its guard. If Indian soldiers attempt to cross the line of control with Pakistan they may end up with a bloody nose.
So there are only two ways to take ‘revenge.’
(1) Attack helpless Kashmiri students and shopkeepers all over India. This brave act is already being performed with great success.
(2) Slaughter innocent civilians in Kashmir and announce that those killed were the miscreants behind the Pulwama killings. This was what the American army often did in Vietnam when the Vietcong ambushed American soldiers– wiping out all villagers suspected of harboring guerrillas, for example in My Lai.
It is another matter that this increases the number of militants, because the dead man’s relatives and friends then want revenge, making these non-combatants into militants, thus feeding the cycle of violence.
A Vietnam-type situation is rapidly developing in Kashmir, with no end in sight.
What is the solution to the Kashmir problem? To my mind, there is only one: reunification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh under a secular government, which while upholding religious freedom does not tolerate religious extremism or bigotry. This will automatically solve the Kashmir problem. It will no doubt take a long time to achieve, maybe 10-15 years, but there is no other way.
To achieve this end an organization called the Indian Reunification Association ( IRA) has been set up with its own website (indianreunificationassociation.weebly.com). Those who wish to join it or seek some details may write to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or go on its Facebook page.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own]