In the Islamic Republic of Kashmir, freethinkers like me will be the first targets. Yet it is people like me who say that the first step to solving the issue of Kashmir is that both sides recognise the brutalities committed in which common people lost the most. The first thing in any process of rehabilitation after a war is the accountability.
The Nuremberg Trials after World War II in which Nazi War Criminals were prosecuted set the precedence of this. It is because these trials were conducted, that Jews and other ethnic groups got a closure of sorts, but we also got "The Banality of Evil"- Hannah Arendt's monumental study of what makes ordinary people follow Evil. We got to know how much brutality man can inflict upon man and we also got to see indomitable courage in the face of great danger and extermination of an entire ethnicity.
I believe, it is because of Nuremberg, that Germans were able to move past their horrible history and start the process of being welcomed into the civilised world. The youth of Germany can today accept the wrong actions of their grandparents' generation and hence are able to welcome the persecuted refugees amidst themselves. Of course, it brings a whole new argument of survivor's guilt, and the Post-Modern cultural relativism, made famous by the "Orientalism" of Edward Said. But the crux of my argument is the first step - an acknowledgement of conflict crimes.
The indigenous natives of Kashmir (read in bold) Pandits, agnostic/atheists/communist/secular Muslims, and other minor denominations were cleansed from Kashmir in the 1990s through a planned, premeditated pogrom of terror, sponsored by the military-mullah-industrial complex.
Since 1990, thousands of Kashmiris have been killed, maimed, disappeared, tortured, and threatened into silence by State if India (which comprises of the Indian security personnel, political parties and the national media) as well as the "non-state" actors which the left-liberals both sides of the border love to espouse and romanticise.
Unless the two sides openly acknowledge these two evils and start accepting the "banality" of it - there will never be a solution, there will never be a closure, there will never be healing.
Perhaps this is the reason why the northern subcontinent never recovered from the trauma of the Partition. There was no accountability, there were no legal justice, only unlawful reprisals and vigilante revenge. Hence no understanding of the "banality" of brutality. It is only now through documented and recorded archive of the 1947 Partition activists, cross-border exchange stories and literary festivals, book releases and shared articles that a collaborative acknowledgement is trickling in both sides. The new generations have started learning and educating themselves about the horror their grandparents' generation went through and just held inside and moved on. It will be a long time before actual healing begins but there is a start.
I am cutting through all the political rhetoric that I keep hearing in seminars, TV debates, and from self-styled "octogenarian" leaders. The first step to a solution is the only one which actually has stages to go through - stages which will take at least a decade if started now. Acknowledgement, accountability, justice, forgiveness and then healing. There are people among the silent majority of Kashmir who believe that General Amnesty should be on the cards too, but I know for a fact it would be insulting for a mother whose son never returned home after being picked up by security forces, or a son who lit the pyre of his parents pining for the lost homeland of Kasheer will never get closure.
As D-Day approaches on June 6, and the Chiefs of Staffs of the former enemies of the US and Japan come together to pay tribute to their fallen, let it serve as a reminder that nations have gone beyond their war histories and are now allies in the march towards peace. This isn't a kumbaya singing "Aman ki Asha" approach. The jihadi factory cobras that Pakistan nurtured all these years hoping to break India, with their offspring all grown up in Kashmir are not only threatening the idea of India but have spit against Pakistan too. The success of those jihadi cobras can be seen on the subversive university campuses of India allying with the "discontented" ISIS sympathisers or the fast copying, reactionary Hindutva-Taliban high on the appointment of their favourite party in power.
Sane, rational, pragmatic voices this side understand the hostage-like situation of the civil society, the dissenters as well as ordinary citizens within Pakistan and how much they are pushing back against their "Army with a Country". The push back can also not be done without the help of the victims of their exported terror - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and our allies, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives who are pushing back against Islamo-fascism (with the exception of the Lankans) in their own countries. There is a need for unification of pragmatic voices across the subcontinent and if it means a "decisive war" - a war to end all wars - so be it. World War II did take down generations of men but Nazism/Fascism was defeated.
So the "First Solution" has to be taken up as a clarion cry both sides:
Honour the dead both sides.
Accept the displaced both sides.
Acknowledge the living hells both sides.
For every Gowkadal, a Nadimarg has to be acknowledged, reckoned.
For every Sopore, a Sangrama has to be accounted.
For every Major Avatar Singh, a Bitta Karate has to be put on trial, even if posthumously.
The State along with the Armed Forces can always issue an apology and statement. As can the "non-state" start speaking the truth about their cleansing agenda from their favourite mosque pulpits and the hub of the Press Enclave, at Srinagar.