(Kashmir’s new revolution is following an idea and not any particular leaders!)
Recently, there was a sting operation conducted by a TV network regarding money being received by some of the leaders of the present movement for “Azadi”. In fact, the discovery was proclaimed all over the country like the discovery of the principle of floatation by Archimedes who ran naked from his bath tub shouting “Eureka” (I have found it!). The receipt of funds by various parties in Kashmir from both sides of the border has been going on right from 1947. In fact, the flow of money from across the border started immediately on the ouster and imprisonment of Sheikh Abdullah in 1953. A Pakistani spy named Jahangir Khan used to bring money from across and deliver the same to Begum Abdullah and others. On this side the former RAW Chief Dulat in his book has given details of how money was given to mainstream leaders and others by him and many agencies. In fact, General V.K.Singh had also once disclosed that the Army too had been giving money to Kashmiri politicians. He had even named a particular politician whom he had allegedly given couple of crores. There have been allegations from many leaders of the present ruling set up in New Delhi that the stone pelters are being paid Rs 500 for throwing stones. Following the sting operation recently telecast on National TV channel, a team from the National Investigation Agency came to Srinagar to question various leaders regarding the receipt and distribution of foreign money. The entire exercise is aimed at discrediting these leaders in order to suppress the present popular movement. However, if one studies the present unrest in Kashmir, all types of leaders seem to be irrelevant as it is no longer a political movement but a “Revolution”. The main moving factor of any revolution in the world has always been an idea. It is an idea which gives rise to a revolution and it does not depend on leaders. In fact, on the contrary, every revolution throws up new leaders.
Kashmir’s history, both the ancient and the recent is full of tragedies, misfortunes and disasters. Famines, earthquakes, floods, epidemics and the political upheavals have always been there. In spite of all these misfortunes, Kashmiris have been surviving for last few thousand years and hopefully, will survive as long as human civilization exists on this planet or for that matter in the universe if man starts planetary travel and colonization! In the recent past, the worst misfortune for Kashmir has been its confused leaders who have been leading people from the proverbial pillar to the post! No leader has given a very concrete objective of where a Kashmiri can lead a life of honour and dignity, unmolested by oppressors and how he can get there! It is because of this that the new generation is following an idea and not any particular leaders.
In the long history of external subjugation, Kashmiris have risen many times but have always been crushed brutally. Almost after four centuries of subjugation, they did wake up from the deep slumber to which the foreign oppressors had put them. They also threw up a very tall and forceful leader but unfortunately after sometime he got confused and fatigued leaving his followers too confused and bewildered! There have been other leaders too but none like the colossus we had produced through the uprising of 1931. One cannot belittle the contribution he made along with his followers, one and all towards the ultimate emancipation of the down trodden people. Every Kashmiri in his heart cherishes the ultimate goal, which is to lead a life of honour and dignity which they call “Azadi”! However, so far the oppressors have proved stronger and crafty. Utilizing the weaknesses of the character of a Kashmiri and employing the harshest means they have succeeded in keeping him in perpetual bondage.
The new generation of Kashmiris does not believe in political jargon, dialogues, referendum, interlocutors, mediators, and political processes. They have got one universal idea, “Azadi”. The slogans are, “Go India, Go Back” and “We want Azadi”! Recently, many political leaders, intellectuals and others have opined that India has lost Kashmir. That is not correct. How can Kashmir be physically lost to India when it is held in place by half of the world’s third largest Army? Yes, India has lost Kashmiris. The land is still with them. A BJP leader has declared that the present unrest is in just three and half districts of Kashmir Valley. He needs to be corrected. Yes, the three and a half districts have been completely lost! The unrest is in all the twenty districts and even across the Pir Panjal Mountains. Incidentally, there is also a continuous refrain about talking to stakeholders. One needs to clarify as to who are the real stakeholders. According to information, 70% population of Kashmir is below 35 years. The most volatile is the generation born and brought up in the turmoil of the nineties of the last century. They are the real stakeholders now. Here one is reminded about Tom Paine’s quotation given in “The Rights of Man”! “There never was, there never can, and there never will be a generation of men which can bind posterity till the end of time! Every generation is free to decide its own future. The idea of ruling beyond the grave is preposterous!” So if one desires peace in Kashmir, the new and the real stake holders have to be taken on board. How that can be done, is the million dollar question!
Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir