A Reply to Maj. Arya from an Indian Citizen

An open letter by a retired Major of the Indian army has been doing the rounds on social media and news sites. Links are provided below. Shiv Mann provides a counter-narrative to the nationalist sentiment. 


It is easy enough to judge people or popular movements in a self righteous frenzy when you are stubbornly convinced of your ideologies. The death toll has crossed 30, helped in part by government forces going on a rampage of their own, attacking ambulances and hospitals, carrying away patients off stretchers, shooting tear gas into wards and in one case inserting a rod in the bullet injuries of a patient. Attacking hospitals and medical personnel is in violation of International Law, but for the apologists of AFSPA that shouldn’t be much of a concern. As for Wani’s family, I don’t think they care much for what you think of them or their son, so blame away if you want.

I am sure you don’t see the irony in castigating Wani for acting out on social media while our defence personnel do the same, I guess you missed the ads that play on television advertising a glamorous life for recruits. Is it because you think the Indian forces are the “good guys” fighting the good fight, which perhaps renders the pitch justifiable in your eyes?

Running after jobs and rearing a family is the vocation of those living in societies with a semblance of normality. In a war-zone, it is the gun that people go for. Of course, you don’t see the parallels in the struggle against an occupying power with what the HRA/HSRA did during India’s colonial era. Apparently, armed struggle is to be valorised and held in esteem only when it is fought on your behalf. Wani knew he was a dead man walking, so does every boy who picks up the gun in Kashmir, Wani’s death could precipitate a new era of rebellion in the valley, and the people won’t be doing it for popularity on facebook, but simply to die from your bullets. You’d know that as well if you made the effort to listen rather than try to weave your own narrative for their motivations. That Wani managed to live this long is a surprise, not the fact that he was killed.

What the Hurriyat does or does not do is immaterial. Although, the Hurriyat includes Yasin Malik who was part of the 90s militancy as well as other leaders who rot in jails under PSA, I don’t see the need to defend them because they have always taken a backseat during mass uprisings. The demand for an independent state or accession to Pakistan is not limited to the Hurriyat, but is being raised by the vast majority of the Kashmiri people. The primary demand of the HC has been the implementation of the UN Resolution recommending plebiscite for the J&K, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. It is the failure of non-violent channels, including the Hurriyat Conference, and the imposition of state authorised brutality that is making youth become militants, the Azadi camp right now is just relegated to watching from the sidelines. It is understandable why someone like you, who seems to have panache of painting complex situations in black and white, would see things the way you do.

Actually, Major, two, not one, of his parents’ sons are dead. The younger from the bullet, the elder from torture by the army.

Kashmir’s young and restless blame the security forces for killing them. But they never question the Hurriyat. No one asks Syed Ali Geelani why Burhan Wani is not from his family.”

What are we to even make of this argument? Are you saying that the people of Kashmir can only question the brutality of the security forces if they at the same time castigate TeH for not killing security forces in retaliation?

Again, what the people of Kashmir do can be a blow to the “unity” of India only if the people of the Vale considered themselves Indians. Every act that catches the attention of the rabid Indian media, and hyper-nationalists, the waving of ISIS flags, celebrating India’s loses in cricket or pledging allegiance to Pakistan, is an act of protest against the yoke of the Indian state. To remind you that oppression and distorted cartography can not engender loyalty to the State.

It is the tragedy of Kashmir, to not be worth the world’s attention, which has allowed atrocities and wanton slaughter to continue without pause. The more than six hundred thousand troops in Kashmir are not there to play with a handful of militants, but to keep an entire people in check.

Burhan Wani did wage a war against the Indian State, I don’t see how that makes him a terrorist, though. You can’t call him a terrorist without indicting yourself as well for the rapes, tortures, enforced disappearances, mass graves, fake encounters, extra judicial killings, illegal detentions that have marked your stay not only in Kashmir but also in Manipur and Nagaland.

Unless you want to be called a hypocrite.


Shiv Mann



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Shiv Mann Written by:

Shiv Mann is a student pursuing managerial studies in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand.

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