India has always had a history of inclusion and to stand up against extremism. When the temple at Jerusalem fell at the beginning of the common era, a batch of the Jewish survivors found refuge in southern India and over the past two millenia, this was probably the safest environment to practice their faith. When Persia fell to the Arab invaders, the Zoroastrians fled to the West coast of India and to date the Parsis in India are the largest surviving Zoroastrian group. When China attacked Tibet, the Buddhists led by Dalai Lama did not hesitate to seek refuge in India.
Time and time again, India has stood for what is right and what is just. Giving refuge to the Dalai Lama, led to an embarrassing military defeat to our much larger neighbor to the north, but there were no protests against Pandit Nehru’s decision to give refuge – for the citizens knew it to be the right decision. Even with the latest floods in Pakistan and inspite of misgivings of misuse of funds, the Indian government did give 25m USD to the relief work – for it is right thing to do.
However we find ourselves with a peculiar situation with regards to Kashmir. As a reaction to the danish prophet controversy, there were widespread riots in Kashmir leading to local deaths. On the rumor of a Koran being burned in the US, Christian schools (in no way connected to the situation) are attacked and burnt. With the floods in Pakistan, there were also widespread floods in Ladakh and Leh. With whole towns being washed away, emergency relief material could have reached in time, if not for the national highways being blocked by the protestors in Kashmir. As with the time when the Kashmiri Pandits had to leave on threats of mass genocide, the current day Kashmiri’s failed to show any sort of solidarity with the people in need – nothing was raised for the flood victims and nothing was let through.
For some reason, Indian policy makers keep fretting over the idea on why Kashmiris don’t associate themselves as Indian. Unfortunately they fail to realize that being an Indian citizen should be a privilege and not a right and it should be shared only with people who share our sense of righteousness. The partition of India during independence has always been seen as a scar on our history, but in hindsight it helped seperate out the extremists from the rest. Kashmir is the last vestige of the independence process and its time the policy makers deal with it as such. Irrespective of our policies, the extremists will hold the rest of the country hostage to their wants.
Its time we retake the path of the Right, the path of the Just.