The Agony of Kashmir
Yesterday the Indian Government removed the autonomy of the region of Kashmir. Kashmir in lockdown after autonomy scrapped.
The situation in Kashmir is complex. The claims of Pakistan and India on the whole region has been in dispute since independence. However in unilaterally removing the special laws have governed it the Indian government led by Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi has put its people jeopardy.
Notwithstanding the complexity I am going to reduce it down to three facts:
The problem is a direct result of the mismanagement of the end of British rule in India and in particular duplicity in dealing with the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The action by the Modi government in India is the latest and most serious challenge yet to the secular character of India since Independence, and a direct challenge to both Muslims and Christians in India.
Many of our friends and neighbours here in Luton have their origins in Kashmir, and still have extensive family links here.
The solution of issues there will not be solved by reference to these three facts alone, But they reflect on my response to this news, and I would argue the need for a strong response from the British government. Of the latter we have heard nothing of substance.
But in this global village it is vital that I remember the Biblical commands to “weep with those who weep.” My many friends of Kashmiri Pakistani origin are deeply upset and worried, about family they cannot reach and about the future of the land they love.
That is why I have signed the letter penned by the two councils of Mosques in Luton. And it why I would ask many Christians, and especially church leaders, to do the same.
I was in Jammu Kashmir for 36 hours fifteen years ago, traveling with an Indian fiengd. The pictures here are mine. Looking out over the river to Pakistan I remember weeping. The streets of Jammu bristled with guns. Soldiers were everywhere. Walking across the heavily militarised Indian Pakistan border further south at Wagah to drink tea in Pakistan with a Pakistani friend was an experience i will never forget. The ritualised conflict that formed the basis of the ceremony at the border each evening was very very shocking.
I cannot wash my hands. I cannot ignore what is going on. It is the least I can do to stand with friends now in a call for action.