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Kashmir - A Conversation with an Indian Lady Friend

Updated: Jan 8, 2020

Important note: The views of Sanya (made up name) and myself are our own and should not be construed as those of the larger communities that we belong to.


Kashmiris continue to suffer under restrictions imposed and only partially lifted after Article 370 was abrogated by the Indian government on August 5, 2019. Recently, the Indian government also promulgated laws that appeared discriminatory to many muslims in India. Until recently, there was great faith amongst all Indians, regardless of ethnic, religious or other differences in the secular character of India. One could even consider Secularism as the holy grail that would never be touched. Today, there is great anguish and the Muslims of India appear to be troubled. It is with the sincere desire to begin a dialogue to narrow differences and come towards each other and under this background that I posed the following question to three Indian Hindu/Jain friends:


Nasir: Hey are you liberal enough to have a conversation with Kashmiri and Indian Muslims on some of the happenings these days .. I know you have some very close Muslim friends .. me and others in the USA ... I know I am almost afraid to broach the topic with you and most of my Hindu/Jain friends for fear the conversation will either be blocked or will soon come to a standstill or naught!

The following conversation between myself and an Indian lady friend occurred over the past few days.


Sanya (made up name): As far as Kashmir is concerned,  I feel that a lot of the issues are politically initiated. Now over several decades, resentment due to injustice has probably built up on both sides -- Hindus as well as Muslims. I feel it is hard for us to determine right versus wrong for what has happened, and I honestly do not follow politics so closely to have a strong opinion either way. 

Nasir: Thank you for articulating your stance. It's just that one doesn't want superficial relationships. We can have different positions and agree to disagree or if convinced change one's position based on facts. The fundamental issue that has so far made India like most other civilized nations is its secular constitution which has accorded equal rights to all its citizens. Many Indian muslim friends and close relatives think that those equal rights are being eroded and they're hurting. With regards to Kashmir, I feel that this Hindu Kashmiri woman, who has been raised in Canada and USA by her.immigrant parents, has transcended both Hindu and Muslim positions and arrived at a more nuanced and objective view (see link at bottom of this article). Yes, the exodus of pandit Kashmiris was wrong but that doesn't make the oppression/violence perpetrated on Kashmiri Muslims justified either. I just love how this young woman writes as our children would too.

I hike with mostly liberal Hindus and almost no Muslims 😊 and that's because we treat each other as equals and with respect.

Sanya: Article 370 gave Kashmir separate status and autonomy within the country. There are pros and cons to this provision, and that is why there are people, both Hindus and Muslims, who are in favor and also against revoking this provision that was once provided. I cannot say what is right and what is wrong because I feel that either way there are a lot of people who are going to be unhappy. Many of the opinions of such people might be based on their personal experiences or from experiences of their loved ones. Of course we do not hold the right to judge either side! Good or bad, right or wrong, this is like 2 sides of the same coin, and I do not hold complete knowledge to truly say what is good and right!


Nasir: Thank you again for taking the time and making the effort to respond. Article 370 was a compact between the Indian government and the Kashmiri leadership which accorded some autonomy to Kashmir. Taking it away without the consent of the Kashmiri people seems to be an arbitrary decision by the federal government. Imposing something against the wishes of a people is never really a good thing. Pakistan tried it with Bangladesh and many people suffered. Today the majority of Kashmiris in the Kashmir Valley (which is mostly Muslims) are not happy and are resisting. Jammu area is mostly populated by Hindus who probably support revocation of Article 370. My own info is obviously also incomplete. It relies on three (3) Kashmiri friends who are from Indian kashmir, Amnesty International information plus western newspapers. I have learnt a lot. It seems most Kashmiris want some sort of autonomy away from both India and Pakistan. Thousands of lives have been lost. It just seems to me it should be Kashmiris who should be allowed by both Pakistan and India to decide their own destiny.


Let me share how two Hindu friends responded to the same question....

  • Vinod (made up name): Hey Nasir, sorry was super busy today so couldn't reply.  I usually do have conversations with my Indian friends about this topic. I don't know if I can call myself liberal but I have the appetite of taking and accepting different opinions and narratives. I will go through the article. 

  • Bhagwan (made up name): Liberal but don’t have any information.. 


Sanya: You have mentioned: "The fundamental issue that has so far made India like most other civilized nations is its secular constitution which has accorded equal rights to all its citizens and many Indian muslim friends and close relatives think that those equal rights are being eroded and they're hurting."

My opinion on this: India  is a secular country, which means that it has no religous bias and the laws are there same for ALL people. In such situation, how can one state be awarded separate laws that are different from the rest of the country? Is that not unfair for the rest of the country? There are some laws that are and should be the same throughout the country, while some that can be state driven.The history of why Article 370 was created is interesting. Again, I do not know all details and haven't spent the time to research it,  but from what I know, it was drafted to be temporary and transitional. The constituent assembly of Jammu and .Kashmir dissolved itself without recommending the abrogation of Article 370, hence it was deemed to have become a permanent feature in the Indian constitution.  A result of this provision, along with many other rules, Indian citizens from other states could not purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir. Does this not go against a "secular" nation? I am not supporting the wrong that happened with Kashmiri Pandits who originally lived in Kashmir before Muslim influence entered the region but had to flee the Kashmir valley in 1980s. Nor am I supporting the wrong that is currently happening with the Muslim majority people that have stayed in Kashmir. However, I do feel that Article 370 should have been abrogated decades ago or more so, should not have been provided at all in a secular country like India where people of hundreds of different castes and religions reside together!

I agree to your statement "It seems most Kashmiris want some sort of autonomy away from both India and Pakistan".

I feel that people in Kashmir are tired and frustrated over the decades of fights and the feeling of not belonging to a Nation, hence are wanting separate independent state/country of their own! For your statement "many Indian muslim friends and close relatives think that those equal rights are being eroded and they're hurting."

My view point: it depends who you talk to.  I feel that many people, including myself, do not have complete knowledge about the past and present on this topic, hence they make such statements of agreement or disagreement!

Just fyi, my Muslim friend supports revocation of Article 370! Nasir: Good morning! Very glad to get this more detailed and dare I say more definitive response. After one has sought information and digested it one must make a decision in life. It pertains to anything we do. If people are hurt or die then it's not a small matter. It applies to our children too. We can defer their questions for a bit but then we owe an answer to them. Driving to work now so let me defer my response to you too 😊 Sanya, I really appreciate the time and effort to respond .. you didn't have to .. so thank you! Sanya, let me adopt your style which I like .. you state:" I do feel that Article 370 should have been abrogated decades ago or more so, should not have been provided at all in a secular country like India where people of hundreds of different castes and religion reside together!"

My response: 

  1. India had to come up with an accession document and Article 370 in order to comply with international laws and United Nations resolutions on Kashmir regarding plebiscite for Kashmiris. The accession by the maharajah in 1947 and all subsequent laws and agreements were temporary insofar as eventually the Kashmiris would be given the opportunity to vote to be either with India or Pakistan. This opportunity has never been afforded to the Kashmiri people.

  2. Today the Kashmiri people are under military occupation and are being denied their human rights especially their right to self determination. This today is the fundamental issue. 

  3. International human rights organizations such as amnesty international have protested inside and outside India regarding human rights abuses. Even some mainstream movies that have been made with  Indian army cooperation such as shaurya have recognized the level of oppression, abuse and killings of the kashmiri people in the valley. It's incidentally similar to A Few Good Men starring Tom cruise.. still quite a good movie I think on Netflix 

  4. So why are the Kashmiris so concerned? I think many reasons. They have seen their autonomy erode in India. Their cultural identity is at risk. The demographics of their state is being changed. Puppet regimes have been imposed by the powerful central government. The violence perpetrated against them by state machinery (police and army) has been relentless since the 80s. Now their lands have been expropriated by the army or sold to big corporations and more on the horizon. It's not just a few killed but many thousands injured and killed and traumatized. Every family has a tragedy. 

Hey Sanya .. don't worry too much about our discussion .. I believe both of us come with good intentions and want to do the right thing .. a conversation is always better than latent simmering feelings .. so we are good.. Please enjoy tonight's New Year's Eve and have a wonderful New Year! I will probably be the only Muslim at an all Indian/Hindu new year's party being thrown by my Hindu friends .. actually we were the first to be invited .. so it's all good .. take care! Sanya: Wish you all a very Happy, Healthy, and Blessed New Year 2020 🎊🎉🥂

Nasir: A very happy new year and 2020s decade and beyond to all of you!

I think our discussion has probably run its course .. thank you for your patience and fairly detailed response. Take care!


Here's a piece by a young pandit Hindu Kashmiri woman in the USA of immigrant parents I found interesting and was also a reason to pose the above question ..

Note: the photo below is from the buzzfeed link/article mentioned earlier.



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