Muzzammil Ayyub Thakur
An over excited media. High voter turnout. Pro freedom leadership in the shadows. Candidates rallying in locations they never dared venture into before. Article 370. The BJP. Ex Hurriyat leader creeping towards snatching the position of Chief Minister. Militant activity. Multiple blasts in multiple locations. My dear readers, this is the recipe for a Shakespearean play that can be adapted to the cinema, and most probably be better received by critics and the audience than Haider ever could have.
Many questions have crept through the dense fog of Azadi; are Hurriyat irrelevant? Do people accept Indian rule? Has the battle of development vs freedom come to its climax? The list is as long as the list of Human Rights violations committed in Kashmir.
I don’t pretend to have the answers nor is there much need to relay facts and figures that can be sought from any book or website. Most people are well versed in Kashmiri history, political realities and day to day issues, however, I offer my observations, if permitted, which may cast a light on a different angle or at least allow a voice that is often subdued, come forward.
I flew in to Kashmir and India during the tragic and devastating floods that swept over Kashmir in September 2014 to assist in relief efforts, and I witnessed a phenomena that I had only heard of – Kashmiriyat. Without going into the concept and connotations of it, I observed everyone pulling together, helping each other, sacrificing for their fellow compatriot, putting differences aside and assisting those affected by the colossal magnitude of what engulfed our Valley. Many reports have been published about the volunteerism, which is not relevant right now, but I want to touch upon some small elements and stories that were shared with me. One story, which I believe happened several times, was of the thefts that happened during the floods, and how some looters threw stones at windows to see if anyone was home. If they were not, the scum thief would enter the abode and steal the family’s possessions. Another story was of how “rescuers” demanded extortionate amounts of money from stranded, grief stricken people, to ferry them to safe harbour.
Most people know these stories and events, or were victims of these criminals. I say all this because one needs to understand that even in times of calamity, good people exist. Honest people are there. But then there are also those who profit from other peoples miseries. These vultures will always be present and are always ready to pounce on any opportunity given to them, BUT these are non-issues. One may be perplexed as to why I would say this, and I would answer that fringe elements and such incidents do not represent society as a whole, nor should we deeply reflect on this, as the reality and truth is that when the time came, our true colours blossomed as a majority. The Valley was flooded with relief from Kashmiri volunteers based all over India, coordinating together, along with the volunteers inside Kashmir, sharing supplies, efforts and resources. We were one, and God willing, we will always be one.
Fast forward to the elections. Now, there are many opinions, facts, statements and so on. Some in regards to manifestos and others in regards to poll boycott. What interests me is the politics played, by party “representatives” and the media, how they feast, as vultures do, on the remains of the common man’s miseries. Everyone knows the amount of money that has been collected in the Indian Prime Ministers fund for Kashmir’s flood relief. Everyone knows how much has been actually distributed. Furthermore, everyone knows what will happen next; whose government will be formed, with what coalition, how the PM’s fund will suddenly and miraculously begin to come into Kashmir, how rehabilitation will become a priority, etc. And here we see the role of the media, the reliable New Delhi journalists, the educated and senior TV anchors, spinning as they do, adding the masala and stirring regularly, and creating issues out of non-issues. The deluded, out of touch, out of reality media persons have yet again managed to somehow convince themselves that the elections in Kashmir are a substitute, or a reflection and representation of the sentiment of right to self-determination. They have argued back and forth till they have become blue in the face, justifying their position and attempting to impose it on the rest of the population, or at least anyone that will listen (which is unlikely considering the sound of Arnab Goswami has become as relevant as white noise).
I had the privilege of judging in a recent debating competition hosted in the University of Kashmir, and it was a number of those exceptional students that presented the argument that I would have, when they were interviewed by NDTV and CNN-IBN. If the media, or the government, truly feel the current elections of 2014 reflect or represent the acceptance of Indian rule in Kashmir, then why not do it in a direct fashion, without going in a roundabout way? Why are they linking two completely separate issues and moulding an imaginary point of view? Is it so hard to fathom that voters were voting for sadak, bijli, paani and there is no shift away from the true sentiment of a plebiscite? Are they unable to read local newspapers that have interviews with voters who have categorically said they are voting for administration, but are still with the movement for Azadi? My personal opinion aside, my argument is not with the voters, but with the stupidity of those that are trying to prove the elections negate the people’s aspirations for freedom. I challenge those pompous fools to hold a real election, one that matters, asking people what they truly want. But that won’t happen. The fear of being exposed is too much for them to tolerate. They cannot contain another uprising when the truth will be out.
Containment, the first rule of occupation. The second being dilution, control and re-routing of opinions, desires and activities.
There are many other points that can be made which I will not go into great detail, however, certain things need to be made aware to the “great” nation of “democratic” India and its circus clowns. The BJP needed to PAY people and bring them from Jammu to attend the Indian Prime Ministers public speech in Kashmir. Fact. It doesn’t matter who comes into power as they will still have to abide by the constitution of India. Shakespeare once said “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet”. In reference to the elections and its winners, I say that “power held by any other party or person would still smell as bad as a thousand overweight dead rats rotting trapped under the floor boards of a beautiful home. Fact (kind of). Flood victims will not be assisted fully till the new administration comes into power, to show the people of J&K how “caring” they are. Fact. Arresting suspected trouble makers before the elections, including the pro freedom leadership, is illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional. Fact. If India claims Kashmir is it’s “crown jewel” they forgot to tell the rest of its citizens we Kashmiris are royalty, and therefore you do not lay a finger or assault Kashmiri students studying in India like the recent Haryana incident or the multiple incidents before that. Fact. Promising development to Kashmiris when every predecessor before has done the same and failed, doesn’t make you any different, and is in fact shameful. Nor does it shatter people’s spirit for justice and freedom. Development does not replace or make up for gross human rights violations, breaking UN resolutions and international law. Fact.
You see, these court jesters who try to brush a mountain under the carpet can only fool themselves and their countrymen for so long till it all becomes a farce and the house of cards falls down around them like the meteor that hit earth and wiped out the dinosaurs. The current dinosaurs seem to have forgotten 2008, 2009 and 2010 when the Indian population were asking – nay, begging, not to solve the Kashmir issue, but to let Kashmir go once and for all.
However, we must face our own brute, harsh realities and accept our failures, or at least our ill informed decisions and lack of preparation. I ask you this, are we ready for Azadi? Has the next generation been nurtured? Are our moral principles intact? Do we truly believe in our youth? I leave that for you to answer. All I can say is what a dear friend of mine posed as a question on Facebook; the mainstream parties such as the NC, PDP and Congress have developed their youth cadre. What have pro freedom parties done on that level and scale? Are the voices of the next generation heard? Are they involved at least on an advisory level? You see, before the floods, no substantial structure, as the mainstream have created, actually existed within the boundaries of our beloved pro freedom leadership camps. Critique is important. To introspect on oneself is essential. I will not share publically the private conversations, suggestions and advice I have imparted on my well learned and experienced elders over the past many years, but the small wisdom that I wish to leave you with, is this; until and unless we build ourselves into physically strong, mentally rich and spiritually clean individuals, we will not develop ourselves, let alone Kashmir. We can build our own schools. Clean our own streets. Repair our own roads. Direct our own traffic. Establish our own institutions. We do not need a foreign invader in the guise of a benefactor doing us any favours, and tightening their grip on us. They are already deluded, and we must not delude ourselves. I pray for each one of my brethren. I pray for our success. I pray for our guidance. I pray for our strength. InnAllaha ma’as saabireen – God is with those who are patient, but only once we fulfil our own obligations by becoming the epitome of righteousness.
I conclude with my prayers for the young girl who was barbarically assaulted with acid, and hope the perpetrators swiftly face justice. No one should live in fear and no one should face such violent crimes. Government of India and its occupational forces, please take note.