While Bharat Jodo Yatra was a big success and many Kashmiris joined, other Kashmiris were extremely upset.
There was an overwhelming response to Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kashmir, but Kashmiris who wish to be unnamed expressed their disappointment with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “avoidance” of not answering Kashmiri’s questions over the Abolition of Article 370, which they expected him to address.
There is a large chunk of Kashmiris who are still waiting for justice, though they also want peace, justice is being denied to them, freedom to rule their region autonomously is their desire and they want promises such as these fastened on the table of dialogue to ensure freedom.
One of them even said that while Rahul is a national leader and not a local leader, he could have mentioned that the matter of Article 370 is still in the courts and thus could not answer this question, but he could have still assured them that once Congress came into power, they would guarantee the Kashmiris’ land disputes would be resolved and promise them the assurance of jobs. The skirting away from the topic of Article 370 left them with an empty void.
One of the Kashmiris even voiced that BJP said they would take away Article 370 and did it, and not give them false promises. There was also a general feeling that the BJP workers, even if they lied, kept in touch with the locals and were more communicative. Perhaps, somewhere, Congress workers needed to connect more with the locals, instead of getting outsiders involved
The Bharat Jodo Yatra was definitely very dynamic in Kashmir bringing out thousands of Kashmiris have come out of their homes in massive numbers, but perhaps now, the Congress has to assure them more of either the restoration of Article 370 or something similar which will not only give Kashmiris local autonomy, rights, justice, jobs, and land rights restored but far more.
The complexities and history of Kashmir are unlike any other area
Firstly, the politicians have to understand the wounds are sentiments of the people are far deeper than they can fathom. Kashmir has always been a tiny land that has always been ruled by invaders, right from the start.
Kashmiris are a Dardic ethnic group native to the Kashmir Valley, who speak Kashmiri which is classified as a part of the Dardic branch of the greater Indo-Aryan languages. The earliest known Neolithic sites in Kashmir Valley are from c. 3000 BCE.
The Vedic period
The most important locations are Burzahom. During the later Vedic period, the Uttara–Kurus occupied Kashmir. In 326 BCE, Abisares, the King of Kashmir, aided King Porus against Alexander the Great in the Battle of Hydaspes. After the battle, Abhisares submitted to Alexander by sending him treasures and elephants and they made a peace truce.
The reign of King Ashoka
During the reign of Ashoka (304–232 BCE), Kashmir became part of the Maurya Empire and the city of Srinagari (Srinagar) was built.
Kanishka (127–151 CE), an emperor of the Kushan dynasty, conquered Kashmir. In the eighth century, during the Karkota Empire, Kashmir grew as an imperial power. Lalitaditya Muktapida defeated Yashovarman of Kanyakubja and conquered the eastern kingdoms of Magadha, Kamarupa, Gauda, and Kalinga. He defeated the Arabs at Sindh. The Utpala dynasty, founded by Avantivarman, followed the Karkotas.
Queen Didda, who descended from the Hindu Shahis of Udabhandapura on her mother’s side, took over as ruler in the second half of the 10th century. After her death in 1003 CE the Lohara dynasty ruled the region.
Shah Mir became the ruler of Kashmir
In 1339 Shah Mir became the ruler of Kashmir, establishing the Shah Mir dynasty. During the rule of the Shah Mir dynasty, Islam spread in Kashmir. From 1586 to 1751 the Mughal Empire ruled Kashmir. The Afghan Durrani Empire ruled from 1747 until 1819.
The Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, and the British
The Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir in 1819. In 1846, after the First Anglo-Sikh War, the Treaty of Lahore was signed and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became ruler of Kashmir.
Dogra dynasty under the British Crown and Now Kashmir Under India
The rule of the Dogra dynasty under the British Crown lasted until 1947 when the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir became part of India. It is now a disputed territory, administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and the People’s Republic of China.
Black Day goes back decades when on October 27, 1947, with the landing of the Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army arrived in Kashmir because Pakistan was also laying claim to Kashmir during the time of the signing of the Instrument of Accession and India anchored there to defend Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan, as they say.
However, it did become a bloodstained site of resistance where emotions of wrath and fire exploded, and ever since then, Kashmir is marked as “Black Day” on October 27th worldwide among Kashmiris. As it happened on a Friday, this day is also called Black Friday. This Black Day brought a massive change in the Valley blasting decades of deadly violence with the loss of thousands of lives sparking the world’s deadliest disputes and even triggering two huge wars between India and Pakistan.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Indian-administered portion to become independent or merge with Pakistan.
Over a lakh of people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown with no changes in the conflict and continues to be the same as it was 70 years ago.
Khalid Bashir, a Kashmiri author of Kashmir says “The conflict gave rise to armed struggle, deaths, and destruction, but still there has been no seriousness in solving the issue. The conflict has resulted in orphans and injured, and bloodshed continues. Both India and Pakistan have their arguments, but it is a Kashmiri who gets the bullet.” There were endless lockdowns too on Kashmir that shattered their tourism and economy.
Today, it was melancholic to hear Kashmiris echo, “We don’t want tourism, we just want justice.” What is justice? It is self-autonomy. They express they want to be free. Perhaps, Rahul Gandhi got the wrong advisers in addressing the deep problems of Kashmir to make lasting impressions on hurting hearts to promise them either the restoration of Article 370, which they felt was a promise broken or new laws to grant them freedom, autonomy, jobs and their lands back. The Kashmiris need definite assurances in black and white and not just words in the wind and without this, they will be in a constant state of feeling cheated. Perhaps, there is still time to change this and turns things around, positively with words weighted in gold in strong action.