Kashmir politics hostage to ambivalence

By K.N. Pandita

Three districts of South Kashmir are infested with militancy. Crowds of local people come out to throw stones at security forces with the purpose of obstructing their operation against hiding terrorists. Police tries to disperse the crowds using minimum force.

It shows that local people have the courage and determination to face the security forces which are fully armed. Therefore, by the same analogy if the crowds of people were against militancy they would as well make a show of their courage and confront the militants. They do not do that. Hence it is not correct to say that people fear the gun, either of the security forces or of militants. They have method in madness.

After the killing of seven pilgrims in Khannabal, some political leaders on either side of the fence issued statements condemning the brutal act and expressing condolence to the bereaved families. The question is whether it is just enough to condemn the act and mourn the losses? Does the responsibility and duty of political leadership and civil society end with the lip service to the bereaved families or do they need to do more to save Kashmir society from getting de-humanised?

Kashmir political leadership should try to analyze the situation cool headedly. Attacks on pilgrims is a serious matter because with all religious communities in the country, the tradition of visiting shrines and holy places is part of Indian civilization. Obstructing one community from performing its religious practice can seriously jeopardise communal harmony.

The duty of elected representatives is to guide and educate the people in and outside their respective constituencies on crucial social and political issues. Despite chief minister’s prompting, legislators are showing little or no interest in engaging the people in a rational debate. Their ambivalence springs from lack of political conviction that makes them hunt with the hound and run with the hare.

Political uncertainty in Kashmir valley is the creation of its villainous leadership. The slogan of “aazaadi” was first raised by those who had not only supported but even endorsed J&K’s accession to the Indian Union. The Plebiscite Front with strong backing from the Jamaat-i-Islami Kashmir has been instrumental in deepening this ambivalence. The cliché that is closest to the heart of this ambivalent leadership and the sections of bureaucracy is ‘grab whatever you can now from India and ultimately Pakistan is our destination.’ Hate India, hate Hindu are the instruments that lend support to convictional dichotomy.

Let me cite a concrete example. On the killing of the pilgrims at Khannabal on the night of 9th July 2017, Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister in a tweet condemned the attack. He immediately followed this tweet with an interesting sentence with exhortation to the Union Home Minister to ensure safety of Kashmiri students studying in Indian universities. In the first place, it shows Omar has reservations about the security of Kashmiri Muslim students studying outside Kashmir. This is precisely the outpouring of an ambivalent and indecisive conviction. Hundreds of students from different parts of the country are admitted to various professional and non professional institutes in Kashmir. Chief Ministers of their respective states did not feel any need of asking Home Ministry to ensure their safety.

Moreover if Omar expects the massacre of pilgrims in Khannabal to send the message of ahimsa parmo dharma across the length and breadth of India, we appreciate it. However, instead of sending a message to the Home Minister, it would have been in fitness of things if he had sent a message to the Theo-fascist of Kashmir to lay down the gun or face decimation. He has neither courage nor will to call a spade by its name.

Had not the NC top brass chosen to act dubiously, had it not called stone throwing an act of “self defence’, had it not patronized violence for gaining political mileage, Kashmir would not have been face to face with the monster of violence and gun culture. Statements like J&K has acceded but not merged or Article 370 is the link between India and J&K or making noise about India-Pakistan bilateral talks without understanding ISI’s Kashmir Wahhabization agenda are the product of a mind with blinkers on.

Misguided and misled sections of Kashmirian Muslim society are excitedly imbibing Arabicization as the culmination of its religious perfection. Nobody has any objection to that. Nevertheless, Kashmiri Muslim society being an educated and intelligent society should also focus attention on the widespread internecine war which has engulfed the Muslim States in West Asia and the Gulf region. They need to compare the existing political scenario in that part of Asia with the beautiful Muslim dominated States of South East Asia namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and some more Islands also. A comparative study, if carried out dispassionately, will bring forth a valuable lesson for them. The lesson is that the Kashmirian society had great capability of synchronizing traditions and life styles and making Kashmir home to people of different ideologies.

The struggle in Kashmir is not a struggle for freedom but for enslavement. It is not going to lead Kashmiris anywhere. Great responsibility rests with the youth of Kashmir. Youth leadership must forge ahead. Stereotypes of Kashmir leadership have brought disaster to her. India has the second largest Muslim population in the world. Kashmiri Muslims like their co-religionists are part of broad global Islamic civilization also which is at peace with the rest of the natives. India has shown it is possible. Furthermore, Indian secular democracy is trying to iron out the angularities in social relationship by resorting to constitutional and institutional remedies. These angularities were the legacy of colonial rule. Nothing hinders Kashmiri Muslims from being part of the Muslim civilizational spread and at the same time to be a historical component of Indian civilization. Once that realization dawns upon them, the debilitating syndrome of ambivalence will fade away and Kashmir leadership will emerge as progressive, forward looking guiding force.

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