The 61st Republic Day is dawning upon us, this very moment.
It was on this day, in 1950, that we, Indians, got our constitution that not only defines our rights and responsibilities to the state, but also what the state is obligated to guarantee to us all.
It was also on this day in 1930, that the Congress Party adopted the Purna Swaraj declaration, or Declaration of the Independence of India, resolving the Congress and Indian nationalists to fight for Purna Swaraj, or complete self-rule independent of the British Empire. from then on, till our actual independence on August 15, 1947, this day was celebrated as our independence day, and was marked by unfurling of the national flag.
The nation belongs to Indians, the flag is a symbol that makes us proud. The state gives each citizen the right to fly the flag respectfully in our land, to exult in our freedom.
Yet, when some of our citizens are shamefully prevented from proceeding to Srinagar to unfurl the flag, to exult in the glory of our republic, I get jitters about what the custodian of our constitution, the government stands for.
What is the government trying to say, here?
Is it that Indians have no right to express their sense of pride in the freedom that we enjoy, in our own land, Kashmir?
Or is it that the government accepts that it cannot guarantee the security to anyone who wants to exult on this momentous day?
Or is it that the government has accepted that it is an "occupying force" in Kashmir?
They have to come clean on all this.
Kashmir is legally isolated from the rest of India - no one but a Kashmiri can acquire property in the state, yet the government engages in sweet talk of Kashmir being an "integral" part of India.
The fate of the Kashmiri Pundits hangs in a balance, after being persecuted in the state, forcing their exodus from the state over 20 years back. They are a forgotten, godforsaken lot in their own country, today. India, thus, has the dubious distinction of having internally displaced people from the same community as 86% of the country's population, the Hindus.
As for Kashmir today, it is a pampered state, with practically no economy of its own, even Bihar would be better off today. Kashmir survives on doles from the Indian government, with one of the highest amounts of per-capita aid from the centre.
The Kashmiris today are having a whale of a time at the cost of the Indian taxpayer, who ensure their subsistence, while they engage in their favourite pastime - pelting stones at the instruments of law and order - police and army.
They want azaadi, but I wonder how many hours would they remain azaad if India pulls out. They would be dragged into the same quicksand that Pakistan finds itself in, today.
The real irony is that we send interlocutors to talk to them, yet arrest those who want to express their pride in being Indian! Is this not a violation of the constitution on Indian soil, by the Indian government itself? Is the government not accountable for all this?
So, the question today, on Republic Day, is whether we do have a real reason to exult or not?