April 25th Sandeep Pandey
this guy clearly has been seriously addled. all this talk of sub-nationalities is obviously chinese propaganda. why aren't tibetans and uighurs sub-nationalities who also deserve separate homelands? why is it that only kashmiris do?
this blighter's 'peace march' to pakistan has been halted at the border by pakistanis who refused these dipweeds visas! it would actually be better to let the mullahs have a whack at them. that may cure them of their rosy ideas about pakistan.
url courtesy sulekha:
As part of the ongoing Pakitan-India Peace March we came across the first resistance to our position on Kashmir when we reached Phillaur from Ludhiana. Our host here was Mr Johal, president of the committee which runs the Gurdwara where we were to stay. He registered his protest as soon as we arrived, rejecting our position on the Kashmir issue as according to him, it favoured Pakistan. He believed that Kashmir was an integral part of India and only Indians had a right to decide about the future of Kashmir. It was obviously a narrow nationalist position, shared by some other Indians too.
We were gathered at a Hanuman temple, and Mr Johal snatched our signature campaign sheet and started striking out the statement on Kashmir. He managed to damage two sheets by the time he was made to understand the people who had signed the sheets agreed with the position of the Peace March and did not share his opinion on Kashmir. The peace marchers tried to avoid getting into an unpleasant situation with their host for the rest of the evening. They tried to reason with him but he was not in a mood to listen to any other point of view.
At night after dinner at the Gurudwara he and his associates joined a meeting we were holding to discuss how to tackle such a situation in future. There was another round of discussions on Kashmir and we tried to reason with them that any possible humane solution to the problem must involve the people of J&K. We explained to him that the narrow nationalist view held by Indians from outside Kashmir, or for that matter Pakistanis outside Kashmir, was born out of a feudal mindset and in a world in which people were more sensitive to human rights violations and also a democratic way of thinking, the conventional nationalist Indian and Pakistani views could not be imposed on the people of Kashmir.
Also, in a world where economic policy of globalization is taking over, the concept of a nation state is weakening and even the two governments probably realize that staying ahead in economic development is more important than in an arms race; this will take away pressure from the governments to make a prestige issue out of Kashmir.
We also pointed out that a major section of our societies, including dalits, tribals, women, and other marginalized sections, do not share the traditional concept of nationalism as they are busy with more basic struggles for life and livelihood. For example, they are not likely to feel the same enthusiasm if India beat Pakistan in a game of cricket compared to people who were close to the ruling class. We don't know whether this discussion had any affect on the associates of Mr. Johal but he did come to see us off in the morning and seemed to be calmer than the previous evening. He may have reconciled to the differences in our points of view.
Our march in Ludhiana was shown on the national TV in Doordarshan news. As we were walking from Phillaur to Phagwara we were stopped by a buffalo-trader who recognized us and crossed the road to stop us. His name is Paramjit and he expressed his happiness that such a march was taking place; he confidently told us that we were sure to get visas to cross over into Pakistan.
By then, we had learnt that the Pakistani government was refusing to allow the marchers from Pakistan to cross over into India. But Paramjit's resolve reflected the opinion of the common people that people should be allowed to cross the border freely. Little did we know that two days later Pakistan's Interior Ministry would actually grant permission to some Pakistani marchers to join the march. This also opened the possibility of us going to Pakistan and realizing our dream of a joint march through the territories of India and Pakistan, and then together crossing the Wagha border.
As we walked out of Phagwara towards Jalandhar, a bicyclist crossed us, and got down after stopping next to me. Surjit Singh earns his living as a Tadi Kirtan singer; his wife is also in the same vocation. He congratulated us on the march and said that he had signed our signature campaign which my colleague Chandralekha from Hardoi District of U.P. was carrying walking behind me.
He then offered a suggestion that pleasantly surprised me, saying that the third point in the signature campaign, about allowing people from two countries to meet freely and, if possible, doing away with the passport-visa system, should have a higher priority than the first two points.
The first point states that both sides should resolve their disputes peacefully through dialogue, including the issue of Kashmir according to the wishes of the people of J&K. The second point is about doing away with nuclear weapons, land mines and reducing the defence budgets so that resources could be spent on development of poor people on both sides of the border. Surjit argued that the third point is closest to the hearts of the common people from India and Pakistan and is also probably the easiest for the two governments to agree to. It would also create an atmosphere in which the governments would find it easier to make progress on the first two points.
Surjit Singh is a representative of the common people. Only somebody like him could have thought like this because we intellectuals often cannot free ourselves from our preferences and biases. I'm glad I met him, and thank him for educating me about the priorities of the issues as common people see them.
I kept cursing myself on not seeing this simple logic while drafting the signature campaign text. Anyway, we're glad that we've collected over 5000 signatures on this statement and so far except for Mr. Johal, nobody seems to have any problems with the point of view that we're putting forward during the India Pakistan Peace March.
The writer is a prominent social worker based in Lucknow. He is among the Indian peace marchers currently camped at Wagah border waiting for permission to enter Pakistan