Saturday, September 15, 2007

peace projects


When the philanthropist and Art of Living Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visits Kashmir, what should he preach here? Of course what he is preaching elsewhere. So his message was “let us all live peacefully. Let us share each other’s pain.” There is nothing wrong with the message and its content. Here in Kashmir every body yearns for peace and every body wants to live a dignified life. Here nobody is against Kashmiriyat. No one against peace.
But which and what kind of peace and why the State always uses personalities having unblemished record to thrust its peace rhetoric on people whom it has choked so much that they are dying of suffocation. Kashmiriyat is welcome but it sounds an obnoxious discourse when preached by outsiders. Moreover, why should Kashmiris be preached Kashmiriyat and peace. Since 1947, there have been thousands of anti-Muslim riots in various parts of India and Gujrat pogrom is latest example. Nothing that sort has happened in Kashmir. In fact it were Muslim Kashmiri Tangwalas who helped Hindus to reach Jammu safely in 1947 and on way back these Tangwalas were butchered at Nagrota. This is the way we have been paid for our philanthropy. Still we don’t say anything, we don’t cry, but it doesn’t mean we have nothing to say.
Some people here asked the Art of Living Guru Sri Sri why he is preaching peace to people of Jammu and Kashmir, why don’t he preach his peace lessons in Delhi? It is straight talk and time has come when people here should learn to talk in straightforward manner without ambiguity. Yes, why peace to Kashmiris and what peace?
Let the State explain what it means by preaching peace to people. And why it preaches peace to those who are victims of fake encounters, enforced disappearance, custodial deaths, tortures and arrests, utter humiliation, forced labourer and what not? How painful it all is that the people hit by all sides are being asked to maintain peace? For argument’s sake, tell us how come people will maintain peace? The fact is that only the State could bring peace here. So if the State is concerned about the wellbeing of people and want they should live peacefully, it should create atmosphere for people so that they could live peacefully. And first and foremost condition for peace is complete demilitarization. Is State ready for it?

FM and peace
There is nothing wrong if Radio, TV channels spread like STD shops in Kashmir. Let us all hear songs of Mehdi Hassan, Lata, Rafi, Noor Jehan, Mukesh, Kishore and all other great singers from India and Pakistan who are have been our favorites for many decades. Let drivers of minibuses, passenger buses, private-car owners get benefit of information which FM Radio jockeys give after every three seconds regarding closure of road, traffic jams, traffic restriction. Let us watch good and beautiful movies. But things turn topsy-turvy when the State projects everything as “yearning for peace.” Why in Kashmir blinking of an eye becomes message for peace? You open a Radio Station, it is a “sign for peace”, you hear Lata’ Song it is “yearning for peace” you walk with a girl, “it sign of normalcy”, you dress up nicely, “it is desire for peaceful life.” What peace and which peace no one explains us.
It is so frustrating and so irritating when this peace rhetoric is being forced upon us repeatedly. By repeating peace slogans the State is trying to project itself as victim and people of Jammu and Kashmir as aggressor and anti-peace.
Those who visit Kashmir to preach peace to people here should not be blamed for. But far great responsibility lies on them also. They are not ordinary personalities. They are the people who are being looked upto and venerated everywhere. So they should first understand what is ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir. They should also peep into history of this place to know who has disturbed peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Or else they will always have to face some uncomfortable questions.
Every statement whether it comes from a politician and great personalities like Sri Sri becomes political statement here even it is about peace. “I have no readymade solution for you. If there has to be solution for Kashmir, it has to come from within. We all have to sit together and find a way out in the atmosphere of understanding and love,” said Sri Sri. He further said, “Any solution should take into account the inter-dependence of the present world as independence is not remedy of all our ills.”
Now don’t ask that the statement have nothing do with politics. If politics is to be discussed then let us discuss it seriously and remind them something, which they don’t want to hear now. “As the House knows, we have decided right at the beginning that we are agreeable to a plebiscite in which all the people of Jammu and Kashmir will take part. We are resolved not to dishonor this pledge we have given to the people of India and therefore, we shall persue policy accordingly… We do not want to win the people against their will and if people of Jammu and Kashmir want to part company with us they can go their way and we shall go ours.” This is what Nehru told Parliament on August 7, 1952.
And on August 9, 1953 Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir was arrested and put behind bars for hatching conspiracy with Pakistan. This is the way you fulfill your pledges. You went to UN seeking its intervention and now you describe its resolutions as obsolete and at the same time have no qualms in seeking seat in Security Council of the same UN. In past 56 years you didn’t allow to open Mughal road, created mistrust between Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir, divided them in the name Paharis, Gujars, Kashmiris, Kargilies and you are telling Kashmiris that they have disturbed peace. No way. Check out the records to see who has disturbed peace here. Those who point fingers on Kashmiris will find themselves in the dock.

Who need peace lessons?
Those who preach peace to people here should listen to their own people. Omer Abdullah, former Foreign Minister of India is on record saying that Kashmiris are being implicated and accused Delhi police of falsely booking Kashmiris under frivolous charges. Ghulam Hassan Mir, former Minister while speaking in Assembly during debate on fake encounter killings in Budget Session as described all those killed in the fake encounters “martyrs.” And Ali Muhammad Sagar accused the State of committing genocide of people of Jammu and Kashmir.
These are people who don’t demand Right to Self Determination. They swear by the constitution of India. So it would serve a great deal to the State, if it heeds their advice and bring dignitaries to preach peace lesson to its law enforcing agencies not to people of Jammu and Kashmir.
And if the State want to continue with its peace projects then it has to change strategy. It should change the venue. Instead of Srinagar, it should organize these programmes in Delhi. Not to sensitize intellectuals and policy makers there! Delhi based Intellectuals and policy makers are already programmed and they say only one those things, which the State wants to hear. So no danger of perturbing questions. The full projects sans peace will not face any kind of risk of unwarranted questions there. So next time we expect that the State will preach peace in New Delhi. Preaching peace and Kashmiriyat to Kashmiris is like training guns on people and telling them to say loudly “peace and Kashmiriyat” or else be ready for consequences. The people will say it but at the same time when you remove your gun from their head, even for a short while, they will demand peace with justice.
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