“It is the prime responsibility of every citizen to feel that his country is free and to defend its freedom is his duty”. – Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel
Since Independence, Kashmiris have always considered themselves to be separate and distinct from India. This is largely due to article 370, which had restricted other from being part of the state. This feeling only deepened with the onset of militancy and the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits. This has been exploited by Pakistan playing the religion card, flushing the valley with money to pay for inciting violence while simultaneously pushing in militants in the garb of supporting their struggle. It is further aggravated by hostile Imams belting hatred from mosques. The youth has been misled in the name of Azaadi, a term which is as confusing as it is simple. The word itself carries different meaning for the youth, who is unsure of what they desire.
Azaadi A Persian word in a literal sense means freedom, independence or liberty. But what Azaadi actually means beyond freedom is not always clear to everyone. Historically independence struggles have been fought against foreign powers, those who have taken control over piece of territory for the purpose of economic exploitation. It has also been fought between people of the same nation where a section of the population that has attained power treats another ethnic or linguistic community as second class citizen, systematically annihilating and depriving them of these most basic rights.
“The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world the faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people”. It is a well-known fact that the youth of Kashmir is a great asset. They are indeed the future of the country and represent it at every level. They are the building blocks of the country.
In the case of Kashmir, none of this is true Kashmir has never been exploited economically and as to the rights of Kashmir people, they have privileges over property ownership. So none of the traditional characteristics of freedom struggle hold here. The only thing is misguidance of very few Kashmir youth in the name of Azaadi. It is a myth that all Kashmiris want is ‘Azaadi’. The chants of ‘Azaadi’ are made only by a minuscule misguided radicalized youth residing in and around Kashmir. It is the conspiracy by our neighbour to change the mind set of certain section of Kashmir youth by the venomous speeches of the separatist leaders. Their bogey of ‘Azaadi’ is a diversion tactic Pakistan has always been trying to push in the troubled waters of Jhelum and the conspiracies have been hatched there. Many youth get swayed by the false propaganda and adverse publicity. The video footages shown on certain TV Channels or going viral on social media create an impression that the entire Kashmir is demanding ‘Azaadi’. Nothing can be far from truth than this. The Kashmiris enjoy all fundamental rights enjoyed by any other citizen of this nation and enjoy unlimited freedom as compared to their counterpart in POJK.
The fact is that majority kashmiris are progressive, forward looking and ambitious. While they are proud to be kashmiris they are equally proud to be Indians and wish to reap the benefit of India’s economic growth. The youth of the Kashmir has to come out of this misnomer called ‘Azaadi’ and they have to understand that they are part of India and are as free as the other citizens of the country and nation requires their participation to achieve and help in taking the country towards progress.