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To my Kashmiri brothers and sisters – Justice Markandey Katju

I am myself a Kashmiri, and while technically a Hindu ( though I am an atheist ), my DNA is the same as yours, and I am your well wisher. So you should hear me patiently, even if you disagree with me.

As you know, I have strongly condemned atrocities on Kashmiris by India security forces.

But I disagree with the demand for azadi or referendum in Kashmir. Your correct demand should be for reunification of India and Pakistan under a modern minded secular government, which, while upholding religious freedom, does not tolerate religious extremism or bigotry, whether Hindu or Muslim, and crushes it with an iron hand. That will automatically solve the Kashmir problem. Let me explain.

1. Kashmir has a large handicraft industry, and for this it has a huge market in India. Almost every city in India has shops of Kashmiris who bring their goods ( shawls, carpets, etc ) from Kashmir and sell them there. I once went deep south to Kovalam beach near Tiruvananthipuram in Kerala and found a couple of shops of Kashmiris even there ( since my wife speaks Kashmiri the shopkeepers there were overjoyed and invited us to lunch ).

So if Kashmir is separated from India that massive market for Kashmiri goods will be lost ( as Kashmiris will be unable to enter India without a visa, which will be very difficult to get ). So your industries will have to close down, rendering hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris unemployed .

2. The worst thing in life is poverty. The aim of all Kashmiris must be to raise the standard of living of the Kashmiri people. It is only modern, large scale industry which can generate the wealth needed for this. That alone can provide for the welfare of the people, and also generate millions of jobs. 

But modern industry requires a large market. Kashmir by itself is too small for it. So if India and Pakistan reunite under a secular govt that will create a large market for modern industry, and also solve the problem of Kashmiris, as they will share in the prosperity for all. Of course such reunification will take time, but that must be our objective, even if it takes 10-15 years.

So please think carefully to what I have said, and if it makes sense, change your slogan from azadi to reunification of India and Pakistan under a secular govt.


By Justice Markandey Katju
former Judge, Supreme Court of India   
Disclaimer: The views expressed by  the writer former Justice of Supreme Court  Markandey Katju and commenters below do not reflect the views and policies of the
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