Comparing the Secessionist Movements of the Kurdish and the Kashmiris

According to Karl Marx, revolutions are locomotives of history which bring about a change. There are various types of revolutions as one may see. One of the most historically recurred ones is secessionism. Currently, it becomes really important to understand secessionism in the light of two movements that took place. Let us first look at the nature of the secessionist movement and then, let’s also compare the movements in Kurdistan to that of Kashmir.

Secessionism is a demand for formal withdrawal from a central political authority by a member unit or units on the basis of a claim to independent sovereign status. According to John Wood, a prominent essayist, there are various preconditions that are necessary, but not sufficient for secessionist tendencies to emerge. Geographical conditions such as separation of a territory from the rest of the state, economic precondition such as deprivation with cross-cutting consumption and production patterns, and blatant neglect of one region over the other in policy making are some of these precondtions.

According to Robert Young, another prominent essayist, every country and every secessionist movement is unique. However, if one compares the secessionist movement in Jammu and Kashmir to that of Kurdistan in the Middle East, certain important insights can be drawn. In Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiri separatism emerged in the 1990s. The state is divided into three parts—Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The first important observation that one derives is that the demography itself is a strong inducer of a socio-economic and political cleavage. The second observation is that the history of the state is distorted.

During the reign of Raja Hari Singh, a lot of administrative and constitutional innovations for development, in the region took place. However, the formation of the National Conference Party in 1939 launched a national movement against the autocratic ruler on the lines of religion. The Hindu-Muslim divide was the source of the conflict. The Kurdish people like the Kashmiri people, have a distinct identity in the Middle-East as compared to the ethnic communities present in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. There are about 35 million Kurds in the world, which are spread across different states. The largest community is present in Turkey. Historical distortion in the case of Kurds began in the 19th century, when the state had a semi-independent existence from a sovereign one. The formation of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria by the Western Forces led to nonchalance towards the historical state of Kurdistan.

Just like Kashmir, Kurdistan is present in inaccessible mountain ranges which make it even more economically redundant. Just like the Kashmiri people, the Kurdish people have also traditionally engaged in livestock management in agriculture, and they mostly live nomadic life. Also, the overall economic situation in both the countries has been poor. One of the major similarities between the two movements is their grave connection with crime and terrorism. Kurdish extremist groups and militant organizations have been working in Iraq, Turkey and Iran for centuries. However, they have been successfully suppressed by prominent leaders like Saddam Hussein. Over the years, organizations like KDP, KKP, etc. have been accused of violence in Turkey and everywhere. In Kashmir, there are several terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e Mohammad, with the Hizbul Mujahideen being the largest indigenous militant group. A complete lack of a formal intervention by the state in these regions, have led to an active recruitment of the youth and propagation of extreme nationalism, thereby creating a never ending secessionist movement.

The government in the Middle East as well as in India is completely against this secessionist movement. It is disturbing to see that very less is being done to work on the root cause of these movements. Both the countries exercise strong authoritative control over these areas and these communities. However, when it comes to putting efforts towards community improvement and identity building, they are minimal. It has also been argued that lack of economic intervention in human capital development projects has resulted into such tendencies. In the globalized world, states have become multinational and multicultural. However, as a 21st century individual, one is aware of the fact that revolutionary groups are still fighting for establishing their separate identities.

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