Trust cannot be won by the display of national chauvinism and the foisting of arbitrary laws in democratic spaces.
Militarized peacekeeping, which we seeing in Kashmir these days isn’t much different from aggressive military interventions. Which is why I am greatly appreciative of the call for the restoration of civil liberties, right to life, and right to dignity in Kashmir, which all are constitutionally and fundamentally guaranteed, enshrined under Article 19 and 21 of Indian Constitution.
In politics and in life, symbols matter. And the state song of Jammu and Kashmir has great symbolic significance for me.
Contrary to the wishes of the Government of India, our State Song was played on an occasion of great political import in 1981, which I attended with my grandparents. I have never forgotten the reverence with which they stood at attention while the State Song was being played, and I emulated them.
“Lehra aye kashmir key jhanday, Hal walay dilgeer key jhanday, her dam Lehra, her soo Lehra, Taba Kayaamat paiham Lehra (Let the Flag of Kashmir be unfurled, The flag of children, the young, the old and the infirm; the flag of the strong; the flag of those who plough the land. Keep flying every moment and every second till kingdom come! May I have the honor of holding you!).
In Jammu and Kashmir, the law is not based on the will of the people. It has, therefore, led to the suppression of our aspirations. The imposition of Union Territory status on our State has no moral validity, even though it may be enforced for a while.
I respect laws that represent the people’s will and secure their well being, not laws that are arbitrary and unilateral.
I shall happily subscribe to laws that are made with the consent of the people and their representatives, not laws that are coercively foisted on the populace while elected representatives are behind bars and incommunicado.
My ancestors taught me that sovereignty resides in the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and all relationships—political, social and economic—derive authority from the collective will of our people.
I believe in the resilience of Kashmir.
Nyla Ali Khan, Human Rights Activist and Writer