Monday, July 6, 2009

Of inheriting political schizophrenia and generational spokesperson

In normal situations you react normally. Like in highly evolved nations of Europe and America if people lit candles to protest against custodial killing of a dog, if ever it takes place, their government, their civil society would understand the significance of the same and act in the same manner. But in societies like Kashmir where it took eight days for police to register a case for double murder and rape of women in Shopian, expecting people to lit candles to jolt the ‘conscience’ of the State is asking for moon. It is foolish to expect that through candles lights, the State, which only in extreme cases under extreme ‘abnormal’ reactions from the people regrets killings, would be forced to accept genuineness of the issue. The State which never thinks before the killings and then orders probes, in rarest of rare cases, after the killing.


 

Naseer A Ganai

SCORES of youngsters had assembled outside a polling booth in Keeri Pattan during the parliamentary elections early this year. The youth were keeping an eye on those who would come out to cast vote. “We are here just for the sake curiosity”, they said. My colleague who had come from Delhi talked to the youth at length and asked them many questions. Like, why they were not voting, and if they were not voting, how it will make difference to the Kashmir issue? So on and so forth. Then she asked them what could be a solution to the Kashmir dispute? One of the youngster almost shouted, “Neither Geelani (Syed Ali Shah Geelani) nor anybody could bring any solution, only Taliban can rescue us.”
 The elders reprimanded the youngster for uttering what they termed “non-sense” but he continued with his Taliban discourse. Our colleague from Delhi was shocked and, like any new outsider in Kashmir, expressed her shock openly. “How come they support Taliban,” she said. But one of our colleagues told her to not take the youth’s utterances on Taliban seriously. “It is an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation and you should not be worried about it,” he said. 
 But the question is why the youth, who were speaking in English, were waiting for the advent of Taliban. The youth who had not spotted beard and were in jeans. Or for that matter why protesters in Kashmir shout pro-Islam slogans while quenching their thirst with Coke or Pepsi. Or why people observe the strike knowing well that it would be only they who would suffer on account of it. Or why a lone protester runs after a security vehicle with a stone in his hand knowing well that in retaliation he would be killed. Or why the youth ask uncomfortable questions in seminars and conferences knowing well they would be blacklisted. Why? Let us try find out answers, if we can. Long back we went to the civil secretariat to file some news stories on power and allied sectors. Some officials we met had almost gone in depression. The officials see every day how the decisions are being taken and the how the resources of the state are being looted. They are the mute spectators of this loot. No, not the mute spectators, but reluctant facilitators as well. The state is on their nerves always. It is on the nerves of every Kashmiri. From Doda to Kupwara, Srinagar to Poonch, from labourer to shopkeeper, business leader to a college going student, from academic to a politician, it is everywhere and its watchful eyes have devoured everyone. Every moment, every utterance, every step is being watched by the ‘mighty state’. The ‘mighty state’ fears every tiny particle in Kashmir. This every day watch has become everyday torment and every day suffering. It has suffocated the Kashmiri nation. And it gives vent to its anger by different ways. Some go on streets and shout slogans. Some who are employees of the government of India sit at home and obey strike calls given by independentists or those who question the instrument of accession. This is how they express their anger, their resentment. And, since 1947 this practice is going on.
 And when protesters raise pro-Islam slogans in rallies while shouting for Islamic rule, they express their unhappiness over the present rule. The religious slogans have cultural connotations in case of Kashmir. Otherwise how you explain the suave, English speaking youth wearing jeans says only Taliban can rescue us from wretchedness. The youth might not be waiting for Taliban but he seemed to be unconsciously conscious of the external developments taking place in region and apparently he was hopeful that external development could in a way facilitate solution to Kashmir dispute.
 The hope for external factor is major reason that provides a hope to people who are caught in difficult situation like Kashmiris. Otherwise why pro-freedom groups say international community should take a note of the situation. Or what is the significance of welcoming the statements of anyone from the US State department about settlement of Kashmir dispute. They look for external factor that could help in bringing the solution of Kashmir dispute. That could change the status quo ante. 
 In developments taking place in neighborhood or in statements of the US department, people see external factor and they hope that the external factor would bring that external moment that would bring end to their agony. It seems suppressed people always look more for favorable external factor while taking on the oppressor internally by means of peaceful protests or by strikes and slogans. They hope that favorable external factor would bring the external moment and that external moment would end their suffering and pain.  
 It is like major Delhi based newspapers welcoming the statements of the US Sate Department when it says no mediation on Kashmir issue. This way they show their displeasure over any “external interference in the internal matter.” Or they show their concern for any external factor fearing that it might give impetus to internal resistance and could result in change. But the external factor could, as well, be realization of the Indian political class, its media and intelligentsia. The realization of solving Kashmir for good of everyone. If thinking class of India pushes for solution for Kashmir and makes political establishment sincerely to try, what Arundathi  Roy called last year “free India from Kashmir and Kashmir from India” then nothing like that. That would be the moment of moments for all of us in South Asia and Kashmir.
 Presently the strikes, protests, slogans are internal dimensions of struggle of people who want to break the status quo. The oppression of the State forces people to be forceful in expressing sentiments vigorously and fearlessly. But while expressing sentiment people always looks for  external factor. That is why they are keen that media should report it. They are keen to know whether BBC, CNN, Aljazeera, NDTV, CNNIBN, TIMES NOW have shown it or not. They are keen because these media channels are being construed as agents of change through which they expect attention of any external factor most probably international community’s or US sympathy or sympathetic view of Indian thinking class with their struggle.
 In a recent seminar of the Greater Kashmir, columnist Ajaz-ul-Haq was more than right when he said that suppressed people who are facing completely abnormal situation react to it abnormally. Their abnormal reaction to the abnormal situation is extremely normal, he said. So those who expect the reason and logic behind the internal factors like strikes, slogans and protests are talking about the normal situation. In normal situations you react normally. Like in highly evolved nations of Europe and America if people lit candles to protest against the custodial killing of a dog, if ever it takes place, their government, their civil society would understand the significance of the same and act in the same manner. But in societies like Kashmir where it took eight days for police to register a case for double murder and rape of women in Shopian, expecting people to lit candles to jolt the ‘conscience’ of the State is asking for moon. It is foolish to expect that through candles lights, the State, which only in extreme cases under extreme ‘abnormal’ reactions from the people regrets killings, would be forced to accept genuineness of the issue. The State which never thinks before the killings and then orders probes, in rarest of rare cases, after the killing.
 In such circumstances it would be unwise to fret about inheriting political schizophrenia or lack of having generational spokesman. You inherit normal political system in normal times. In these sad times we should wait for the moment when external factors compliment with our internal struggle. That would change everything.

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