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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 13 New Delhi March 16, 2019

What We Defend in Kashmir

Sunday 17 March 2019, by Nikhil Chakravartty


From N.C.’s Writings

The following appeared fiftyfour years ago as the editorial in the Annual Number of Mainstream 1965. This brings out in sharp relief the contrast between what prevailed then and the national situation one is confronted with today vis-a-vis Pakistan, Kashmir, the minorities and the Muslims in particular.

The valiant defence of the Motherland by our armed forces as well as by the brave people of Jammu and Kashmir has inspired the nation. The grim determination of the people of this country not to rest till Pakistani aggression is completely vacated and it is ensured that there will be no recurrence of violation of our frontiers was fully reflected in the President’s message and in the Prime Minister’s broadcast to the nation.

The entire people of this country realise fully the truth of Srimati Indira Gandhi’s declaration that what is at stake in Kashmir is not only our territorial integrity but the very basis of our life as a nation, namely, secularism. The people of Kashmir have risen as one man to give the lie to Pakistan’s propaganda about the communal appeal there; the rulers of Pakistan have themselves realised that their calculation of being able to rouse communal passions in the Valley and enlist the support of Muslims for their treacherous bid to annex the Valley by force has gone completely awry. In their anger and frustration they are trying frantically to escalate the conflict; their crossing of the international border is open admission of the utter and unrelieved failure of their strategy. Their bluff has been called by the determined drive of our Armed Forces to liquidate the bases from where their aggression operates.

The immediate task before the country is, of course, to get Pakistani aggression in Jammu and Kashmir vacated as quickly as possible. Our Army and Air Force are engaged in this task, and there is no doubt that before long they will liquidate the remnants of the armed infiltrators and wipe out the units of the Pakistan armed forces which have entered our territory. But every one of us has to recognise that wars are not won on the field of battle alone. Only a dedicated people resolved to safeguard national values at the cost of their lives can ensure the ultimate victory to which President Radhakrishnan has referred. The entire people of India must settle down calmly to face the bitter logic of an armed conflict with a neighbour; that is the only way the constant military menace of Pakistan can be met effectively.

There is an unhealthy tendency in some sections in this country to worry unduly about the reluctance of many foreign countries to recognise the fact of Pakistani aggression and the attempts made at the United Nations Security Council to equate the aggressor and victim of aggression. As Jawaharlal Nehru repeatedly told us, our national honour can only be defended by us, in the final analysis, and by nobody else. The truth of this was demonstrated clearly during the Chinese aggression. It has been demonstrated, too, by the heroic struggle of the people of South Vietnam against the armed might of American imperialism. The fact that Pakistan has been using American military equipment, including tanks and planes, against India only helps us to realise that we cannot depend on the undertakings given by the Western Powers; we have also to recognise the fact that the Western Powers have deliberately armed Pakistan in spite of our protests over the years. It is futile to feel aggreived that the United States does not pull up its military ally despite the latter’s flirtation with Peking. As we show up the nemesis of the US policy of pampering Pakistan with arms over the years, let us not deviate from the path of national honour nor beg for the support of the very same powers to defend our freedom.

The world will respect us only if we ourselves defend our territory against aggressors. In the case of Pakistan this task is comparatively easy. But even if we face a more powerful aggressor and have to wage a prolonged war to preserve our freedom and our chosen way of life, we have to do so depending on our own strength. No power on earth can defeat or overcome a courageous people endowed with the will to freedom. This is the lesson of history. So let us resolve in this hour of crisis that, however difficult the struggle, we will face it with complete confidence in the ultimate victory of a just cause over the forces of evil, that we will fight with our bare hands if necessary to prevent violation of our sacred soil.

Difficult days are ahead of our nation, as Sri Shastri pointed out at the meeting of the National Development Council. By agreeing to make the Fourth Plan defence-oriented and by offering to strain every nerve to raise the necessary resources, the Chief Ministers of the States have demonstrated that in an hour of crisis they have to rise above regional considerations. As in 1962 the entire working class in the country is unitedly resolved to maintain and improve the tempo of production for defence. The only uncertain factor is the conduct of the majority of the trading community. Despite the pledges given by their spokesmen in recent days, misgivings on this score remain, in view of their performance during the time of the Chinese aggression. In any event, if the government firmly pursues the policy of removing every obstacle in the way of defence, the anti-social elements which seek to take advantage of the crisis can be put down.

In this period of difficulty the government has certain tasks to fulfil without delay. In the knowledge that the people are solidly behind it the government should take steps immediately to organise procurement and distribution of available foodgrains. Unscrupulous traders and middlemen should get no quarter; they should not get the ghost of a chance to exploit the people’s difficulties to enrich themselves. In short, the economy should be placed on a war footing and those who hinder the war effort by causing difficulties to the people should be dealt with mercilessly. There can be no softness in times of war. Such drastic measures will not only enthuse the people but inspire the jawan and the pilot to deeds of greater and greater glory.

Another important aspect of the defence effort is the maintenance of communal harmony in the country. Apart from the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, who are fighting shoulder to shoulder with their Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and other brethren against the armed Pakistani infiltrators, the minority communities in the rest of India have solemnly pledged to sacrifice everything to safeguard national freedom in common with the majority community.

We should not be carried away by any communal outrages that the rulers of Pakistan may engineer, for if we do we will only be playing into the hands of President Ayub and his henchmen. The prevalence of communal harmony in this country is a constant eyesore to the rulers of our neighbouring country, for it constitutes the final refutation of the two-nation theory and the final proof of the superiority of secularism as a way of life. Unfortunately in our midst also there are fascist elements who would like to grab power on the crest of a wave of communal frenzy. In the past they have succeeded in creating serious trouble, although they have been put down by the government and the people. Poona has been a mild warning. In the future communal elements should not get even an opportunity to provoke tension anywhere in India. This is a major responsibility for both the government and the people.

In the midst of all this we as a people have to bear in mind constantly that the people of Pakistan are our brethren, that we cannot hold them responsible for the misdeeds of their rulers who are resorting to aggression frequently only to divert the attention of their people from the misery and privation they have suffered for years. As our Prime Minister put it, we wish the people of Pakistan well.

In the final reckoning, these two neighbours, India and Pakistan, shall have to live side by side as brothers in peace and friendship. As we defend our sacred land with all our might, we must not let iron enter into the soul of this great nation.

(Mainstream, Annual Number, dated September 11, 1965)

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