Kashmir-A Huge Amount to Cope With – Adfar Shah

Adfar Shah

Common sense dictates one thing but Kashmir moves to the other (political rhetoric). While researches, commission reports and articles along with a plethora of propaganda (by media vultures) keep piling up on the human or social fallout of the K-issue besides plenty of discourses on the assaults on the vulnerable (sexual or physical), monster of women issues, unaccounted killings (in the past), plight of widows/half widows, disappeared, continuing human rights abuses, plight of people in border areas, military adventurism of India, etc, the main problem found in most of them is either the problem of generality in conceptualizing anything (lack of consideration of communal, territorial and community identities and talking of the  specific) or the lack of political will to reach out for the redressel (reports gather dust as usual). The illusory peace/calm (peace maintained and understood by power elite) actually has proved a deterrent to reach any positive solution so far (however elections continue for Bijli, Pani and sadak). While the perception of discrimination (alienation) prevails among the majority of Kashmiri’s at the hands of the political establishments and armed forces of the country, however it can be argued that conflict and bloodshed couldn’t harm Kashmiriyat-(politically defined secular identity and unitarian ethos and Pandit exodus can be understood as a collateral damage of the conflict situation but Pandits equally love their mother land & love to live with Kashmiri Muslims and vice versa) thus disproving the much exaggerated claim that conflict uprooted our age-old social and cultural ethos.

The dominant discourses on K-Issue and problems

The notion of Azadi (freedom), commonly understood as secession from the Indian union (much stronger in the first decade of the conflict) lost sheen when public got fed up due to prolonged bloodshed and suffering at the hands of both the state and non-state actors. The idea of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan was actually never subscribed by the sane masses except a few stupid slogans (Rawaan Dawaan hai karvaan-Kashmir banega Pakistan,Kashmir ki Mandi-Rawalpandi,Pakistan se Rishta kya-La illa ha ilal lah and many more ). The idea of autonomy much backed by some political establishments also is still considered a feasible option (pre-1953 position), however hardly entertained by the Centre so far. Also the idea of dual currency like General Musharraf’s four-point formula erupted in the recent past but was never hailed or actually much understood by the public. While Armed forces kept working for Kashmir’s integrity with India the opposite forces (armed guerrillas’ both local and outsiders) tried their best to destroy the same (integrity via huge infiltration, encounters within the valley, attacks on Panchayat  members, etc,) to make the secession possible but failed primarily due to tight security situation, the social fact of Mukhbiri (practice of being secret informers of security forces), decline of people’s faith in militancy for it was found that some among them had even started engaging themselves in meddling with the domestic trifles of the people. It was also believed that some of the locals among them (militants) settled the personal scores with neighbors and others. Later the brewing up of confrontations among some militant groups that even resulted in mutual killings fixed the last nail in the coffin.

Besides, the Problems of leadership (legitimacy crisis of the public leaders) in Kashmir have taken a big toll. Those who represent the voice of the masses hardly come in talking terms seriously for the sake of the same suffering masses instead throw their diktats from their castles. Also the firm (hard) stand maintained by the political establishment has proved a deterrent for it has led to ego clashes among the opposite leaderships and that is why talks never turn successful. Apart from the disturbed socio-political matrix, Pakistan’s consistent internal instability along with the lack of a sincere will (which they never had) over Kashmir has also been a good factor for delaying solution of Kashmir.

The Conscious Cluelessness

Actually the huge burden of the conscious cluelessness (let the things go as such) along with the lack of intellectual framework (no solutions by think tanks) to deal with the difficulties of the conflict situation has further complexed the simple Kashmir situation today (prolonged and painful). The fatalistic anxieties extending beyond politics have led to an acute social breakdown and identity crisis among the masses (every one is a leader for him or herself). A deep unease among the masses is quite visible but without any loud cry (dissent for violence but scared). Also there are a plethora of moral disagreements within like whose Kashmir they want to snatch from India? Where we are the Kashmiri’s in this whole rights game? Who governs us in true sense today? Why does centre delay the redressel of public grievances time and again? Who are the youth of Kashmir actually-a problem or the asset for the nation? Kashmir currently is nothing but a bunch of mass confusions and saga of injustice.

Emotions and Inculcations

Still there prevails a lot of misunderstanding and miscalculation among the masses like Kashmir is governed by military, the whole cultivable land is grabbed by security forces, Pandits will never return home, Pakistan can liberate/solve Kashmir within minutes, Autonomy is useless, Article 370 will be abrogated by BJP, the draconian laws (AFSPA and PSA) cannot be revoked at all or AFSPA is a holy book for armed forces, Infiltration cannot be stopped because of the LoC situation, policing cannot be public friendly at all, Kashmiri youth bulge is  a big problem, international community is seriously thinking about Kashmir problem, world is only looking at us, United Nations is pressuring India to solve Kashmir issue, US will finally favour Pakistan by solving K-Issue, etc,. Such ideas have gone penetrated deep down into the mass psyche due to constant motivation of vested interests, ignorance, presentation of distorted facts, and arm chair sermons of so called K-experts.

The problems with political commands

Lack of clarity, basic foot work, consistency, proper public centred agenda and a clear Kashmir issue solution and vision is still a no idea with the major political establishments. Even the so called peace initiatives are not aimed at peace always besides the constant mishandling of the public aspirations along with a plethora of broken promises on better governance, transparency, employment, development, safety and security, etc, that have so far failed to translate on the ground. The political class has time and again failed to meet the goals and promises particularly on political aspects of Kashmir complexity. Once elected, they fail to put the lingering K-issue to limelight and Bijli, Pani and Sadak never finishes as their public agenda. Also those (the people of the government, activists and others) who represent Kashmir on TV channels or in debates are themselves a big embarrassment to Kashmiri’s and K-Issue for they only talk emotions rather than facts-some even abuse the anchors  reflecting their frustration, political immaturity, volatility and lack of knowledge.

Social Collective Gone Mishandled

Kashmir’s holistic social collective has gone mishandled since the conflict broke in. Due to institutional collapse during the peak conflict situation and consistent atmosphere of fear and chaos much went wrong and was done by both the state and non-state actors. At the ideological level, people also suffered much for there has hardly been any functional consensus among the same stakeholders be that among members of the separatist brigade or among the mainstream political players majorly due to power or position/attention seeking greed. For the public embarrassment and confusion, there still exist a plethora of groups who claim of working for the people but with narrow ideologies, non-feasible goals and pure economic interests for themselves. Further the ideological divide, visionless leadership, corrupt politics, biased media, lack of delivery on social justice, etc, have collectively marred the peace return possibilities thereby jeopardizing the life world of the common man. Further the self centered political philosophies, power hunger among the power share holders, verbal diarrhea of issuing statements over everything or nothing and opposition for the sake of opposition along with painting everything with religion (incorrect as deemed by religion) to the conflict by vested interests and amateurs has actually disturbed the life of the common man. Amid so much of the collateral damage and perpetual loss every Kashmiri grieves at the destruction around. People also are currently in utter confusion about which brigade to follow or whom to avoid and where to go to find the peaceful life. Also the issues of sustenance, growing criminality, poverty and livelihood issues have trapped the people’s minds. Everybody is fed up with the unceasing bloodshed and uncertainty that prevails till date.

Of Myths, Tags and blames

The general dread of ‘Agencies are after Kashmiri’s is much prevalent in Kashmir. Kashmiri’s are unsafe outside Kashmir and the mass perception that every Kashmiri is being spied and monitored by lots of agencies both inside and outside valley is still a much believed myth. Also, another myth that the majority still believes that international community thinks seriously on and about Kashmir and one more myth that is believed by the people living in their imaginary world about the astrological predictions about the coming of Azadi in near future for certain. As far tags, Kashmiri’s attach tags to fellow Kashmiri’s very fast. For instance, a wider section of writers on Kashmir (mostly those who write truth and reason) is being branded as (Indian) agents of various agencies. The label of pro-Indian is treated directly as anti-Kashmiri, to them one can be either a Kashmiri or Indian and who he writes a little balanced is pro-Indian beyond doubt. Another tag is the concept of Qoum kay Gaddar (treacherous) for the persons who either support the statusquo or believes in rationality without rhetoric. There are many other tags and labels as well like people who bore the brunt of the conflict either directly or indirectly castigate the prime instigators who provoked the people in 1990’s to cross the border for training as Jihadis and ridicule the main indoctrinators who motivated the youth in early nineties to go across the border of spearing their own son’s/relatives to become the richly paid employees by sending them outside valley for education (in the local lexicon they say-Gareeban Hiend/Lukkhend Maarnavekk-Pannen Soozekk Nebarr-[Idiomatic Translation]-they sent the son’s of the poor across the border to die but retained their wards/relatives for higher studies outside the valley).

Last Word

There is a dire need to resist negative transformation through perception management and sincere work on the ground. The working groups must not be blind to the social domain and for their success in the field should stop seeing Kashmir exclusively through a security prism that always perceives it as a monster of terrorism, which never was.  Instead the friends of Kashmir must increase interaction with public and relevant stake holders of the current mess frequently to devise links to the sustainable peace. We also have to stop eulogizing counterinsurgency success/narratives at LoC but concentrate on the disorder/crime inside to manufacture the actual success for the sake of masses particularly trying to lower the graph of trust deficit about the system among the masses. Further ideologies that are inconsistent and self-destructive need to be thrown out of the box by paying no heed to rumour mills. Sincerely speaking, if  we want Kashmiri youth to grow and prosper then we need to stop using them like smart gadgets at our disposal for destruction  through indoctrination, provocation, manipulation of religion, distorted facts and history, etc,. Kashmiri’s must realize that they cannot change the basic values or grand political narratives merely by provoking and emotions alone but must prefer peace over chaos. They must bid adieu to indoctrination industry and let the people’s choices prevail instead of the blind following that is mere personality based. The governing establishment also must not spread terror in the name of law and order (safety acts & crisis mishandlings) by over regulating the masses causing the too much of social strain. Labeling people must go and work for developing a strong social connectivity thereby working hand in hand with common Kashmiri (provide a safe life and dignity) must be made the agenda of priority. Finally a practical and politically feasible solution of K-Issue must be given due attention for political stability is a must for the social development. Alienation through lack of social justice has to be seriously pondered over, otherwise the common man will be further ostracized and may keep attempting to shake the very bases of who s/he conceives the alienator.

(Adfar Shah is a Columnist at various reputed media groups. He is a Delhi based Sociologist and belongs to SNCWS, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Views expressed are personal. Reach at adfer.syed@gmail.com).

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