By Tanmay Gupta
One flash of light. One echo of sound. One gunshot. And one dead soldier.
This has become a more and more common occurrence along the Line of Control (LoC) or de facto border of Kashmir. Where these “accidental” shots across the border happen with a worrying regularity. And yet, both Pakistan and India continue to avoid this issue.
Take, for example, the most recent case of a ceasefire violation which arose only two weeks ago, on the 10th of February. Here, Pakistani militants infiltrated and opened fire in Sunjuwan. Where not only soldiers, but civilians too, were massacred and mutilated. A 14-year-old boy shot in the head. A pregnant woman, in the back.
And how did the Indian government respond? Through a warning and restatement of their “proactive” policy. All this in face of shelling from Pakistan occupied Kashmir called Azad Kashmir.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do not advocate for violence or taking an eye for an eye. Quite the opposite in fact. But I, just like billions of others, have grown tired of seeing the same thing over and over again in the news. It is like Kashmir is stuck on replay. Every month, without fail, reports of violence across the border spring up. Every month, more innocent lives end up sacrificed. And every month, both governments make some standoffish statement before reverting to more trivial concerns.
In fact, 2017 was the most violent year for the LoC since 2003 with over a thousand ceasefire violations. That’s more than four times a day and over four times more than the previous year. And already, 2018 wants to contest 2017’s claim on violence with over 400 violations in the first two months. The LoC is a powder keg poised to explode.
We simply cannot let this go on. These stubborn adversaries need to be dragged to a negotiating table. The very same table that has adversely gathered dust since November 2003 when a simple ceasefire was instated. One full of empty promises. One that has beyond all doubt, failed. This time, India’s policy of “proactiveness” along the LoC must extend to actual definitive action. Similarly, Pakistan’s intervening policy must recede to one of cooperation so Kashmir may become “azad,” meaning free, of violence.
Now, what can we do about it? How do we make these governments actually talk to one another? Heck, even the United Nations failed over and over again. However, India is the largest democracy in the world. And Pakistan does not lag far behind as the fourth largest. These countries’ strength and power lie in their people. In us. We choose who takes charge, what our government believes in and what our government does. The best and sometimes only voice heard by our government is our voice.
We must band together and march on this dispute. We must protest this injustice just like Gandhi did over 70 years ago. We must pressure our government to stop stalling. Because every second they stall, another life is put at risk. Together we can apply the pressure to stop this bleeding wound once and for all.
Kashmir is not a hopelessly gloomy case, hope for a resolution lives on. Shahzana Khan, the very same pregnant woman shot in the back last month, gave birth a few days afterwards. An endearing daughter that stole the hearts of many. Showing how new beginnings are found in chaos. New beginnings which we, together, must forge.
One death. One birth. Many voices.
- Masoodi, Nazir, and Anindita Sanyal. “Wife Of Soldier, Shot In Jammu Terror Attack, Delivers Baby Girl.” NDTV.com, NTV Convergence Limited, 12 Feb. 2018.
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- Singh, Sushant. “Beyond the News: 2017 Saw Hottest LoC in Recent Years.” The Indian Express, WordPress, 29 Dec. 2017.
- Spaeth, Anthony. “No Peace in the Valley: in Kashmir Deadly Disputes Continue to Divide, and Multiply.” Harper’s Magazine, Apr. 1993, p. 81. Opposing Viewpoints In Context.
- “The Unfinished Partition; Banyan.” The Economist, 19 Aug. 2017, p. 33(US). Global Issues In Context.
- TNN. “57 Days, 400 Truce Violations.” The Times of India, Times of India, 27 Feb. 2018.
- Unnithan, Sandeep. “No War No Peace.” India Today, 26 Feb. 2018, pp. 24–28. PressReader.