Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why ‘apolitical’ flights to Srinagar never take off

Why ‘apolitical’ flights to Srinagar never take off

Naseer A Ganai

Don’t ask question to anyone who wants to talk about Kashmir? That is a lesson from Harud.

Here they were asked some questions and they got so frightened that they described mere act of asking questions as an act of “sabotage” and in a way labeled all those who asked questions as “saboteurs.”

They even have names for them “Nelsonian vision.” Then they quote “another friend” and say that “Kashmir has turned from war economy to intellectual economy.” It is another matter that they forget themselves and the “another friend” whom they quote.

They went on and say that some of those who asked questions are not from Kashmir. So, they concluded, that they have no right to speak on Kashmir. Henceforth, they will ask a person residing in district Srinagar not to speak about Kupwara. You were enjoying in Srinagar when we were suffering in Kupwara. You don’t know anything about Kupwara. You shut your mouth, you hypocrites.


In this world, musicians, film actors, authors boycott festivals as “matter of conscience.” They promise they will return “if all are welcome” in your shows. Here they went to town to say that he is not coming about whom they earlier reportedly propagated that he is coming, he is coming.

Here only questions were asked. At other places they boycott such shows and they argue why they boycott. They don’t even ask questions.

English musician Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, who performed in the Jewish-Arab cooperative village of Neveh Shalom five years ago, calls fellow artists to boycott Israel.

Waters says in his arguments that Israelis "pay lip service to the idea that they want to make peace with the Palestinians, and they sort of talk around the possibility of a two-state solution, but in the meantime they're throwing people out of their homes in the Negev, in east Jerusalem. They're annexing huge parts of the West Bank. So all this talk is they're quietly getting on with taking over the whole of the land, and what happens then to the Palestinians?”

“And I'm really concerned about that, as was my father, interestingly enough. My father taught at St. George's School in Jerusalem from 1936 to 1938 and was very concerned even then, before the war, before the Holocaust, before all of that, about what was going on in Palestine. He died fighting the Germans in 1944."

He is not alone.

In May 2010 Elvis Costello cancelled a scheduled performance in Israel as a matter of "conscience." He wrote on his website: "There are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act ... and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent...I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security." . "I hope it is possible to understand that I am not taking this decision lightly... It is a matter of instinct and conscience."

So was it not a genuine to ask that why the festival in Kashmir was branded as “apolitical”. Is not participating in apolitical festival a political statement? Whatever you speak in apolitical festival, you talk about tragedies, human rights violation, anything under earth, but by being part of apolitical festival you have already stated your position. That all these things are apolitical including mass graves, killings, torture and your migration from Kashmir as well.


In spite of boycott to Israel, large number of artists, authors and musicians went to Israel and participated in the function over there. They still go.

A British author McEwan this year criticized policies of the Israeli State when the Israeli President was in audience and he got standing ovation from all including the President.

“His high-powered audience, which included the nation's president and the mayor of Jerusalem, responded in an unexpected way: They gave him a warm ovation, ecstatic that the renowned writer had even agreed to show up,” says a news report.

See how show up is important.

"If I only went to countries that I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed," McEwan said. "It's not great if everyone stops talking."

Boycott activists say, "When people come to Israel, it gives a false sense of business as usual… As long as this atmosphere goes on, the Israeli public will not be motivated to change things.”

Anyway, those who go to Israel have arguments in favour of going to Israel. They have belief in their arguments. They have conviction that they are right. So they go and participate.

But here situation is different. Those who organized and cancelled the show had no arguments. It seems they don’t know why they wanted to organize it in Srinagar, and why they cancelled it. That is why they were baffled when asked why? And in response they started hurling intellectual abuses.


Leave arguments aside, they had not even answers to few questions. They found escape route in cancelling the show and then start tirade against those wrote on the subject. They invented ghosts who threatened them and abused them during broad day light. By this they portrayed people who asked some questions in different light. That they want no one should talk in Kashmir except them. That is sad.


Here no write up or comment was posted that blamed the organisers of Harud festival, who are well known writers, for being responsible for policies of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Government of India. It would have been na├»ve to blame them for the same. They were asked simple questions but they were so engrossed in not changing their “apolitical political position” that they failed to provide answers to the one-liners. They could have invited people who shot and signed a letter to them for a debate in New Delhi before going to Srinagar. At least their addresses were there. They were not hard to locate.

That would have cleared the air. But they were so eager to catch Srinagar flight that in their eagerness they forgot that no “apolitical flight” has gone to Srinagar since 1947. Planes of such names even don’t take off. If at times they do, air in Srinagar smell politics in their apolitical politics and doesn’t welcome them as, we all know, air here has been always political and stressful. And it grounds all Srinagar bound ‘apolitical’ planes along with their passengers and crew.