(Some politicians have been virtually acting as leeches,stuck to the body of “Kashmir”, sucking every drop of its blood and attaching to it again and again even when thrown away!)
“Mainstream” is a very commonly used word in Kashmir these days. It is generally applied to the politicians advocating and supporting Kashmir’s relationship with India. When one talks of streams, the first impression is about the geographical streams. Kashmir’s mainstream is the River Jhelum which flows south and after traversing Pakistan drops into the Arabian Sea! Kashmir’s entire history is woven around this River locally called Wyeth or Jhelum. In ancient times in Sanskrit it was known as Vitasta. Most of the time it used to have clean and pure water but due to “advancement” of the civilisation, it has become most dirty and polluted! There was a time when one could drink the pure water of Jhelum and there used to be lot of fish in it. In fact, downstream in Sopore and Baramulla area the famous Mahaseer fish was in abundance! These days we have mostly polluted water which is not fiteven for washing not to speak of drinking!
Right from 1947, the Kashmir’s Rivers including the geological “Mainstream”, Jhelum, have been carrying all along their course the blood of martyrs. People have given their blood to attain their aspirations of a free Kashmir where they could stand with self-respect and dignity. On the other hand the so called political “Mainstream” has been a two way channel for muck and dirt of all kinds. This stream has given rise to what one could call the “Political Leeches”! As mentioned, unfortunately, the real geographical mainstream too has become murky due to all the waste and filth dumped into it by the people residing on its banks! Even the water bodies which were once a sight to behold have been dirtied and in some cases, totally filled up due the insatiable greed of the people for material things. This is in contrast to centuries old spiritual values because of which Kashmir has often been called the “Resh-e-Woer”, (the bowl of saints)! The pollution process has been presided over by these “Leeches” of the “Political Mainstream” all these years! Forget the Political Autonomy; they have not virtually done anything worthwhile to save the River and the water bodies!
According to Wikipedia, “Leeches are segmented worms which feed on vertebrate blood and most of the species live in freshwater environment. Leeches have been historically used in medicine to remove blood from patients. The practice of leeching can be traced to ancient India and Greece, and continued well into the 18th and 19th centuries in both Europe and North America”.In Kashmir, traditionally, it used to be the barbers who used to carry the leeches to draw blood from people desirous of doing so to cure certain ailments especially high blood pressure. Drawing of blood by leeches used to be a popular treatment for many other ailments. Politically, Kashmiris have faced for last 70 years or so two “Barbers” on two sides of the border who have been continuously drawing their blood through some “Political Leeches” owned or patronised by them not to help Kashmiris but rather to nourish and cure their own ailments!
The greatest misfortune of Kashmiris is that they easily offer themselves for all sorts of exploitation. Instead of taking a stand based on certain principles they follow like a herdof sheep every shepherd even though he may have misled them many times in the past. The story of last seventy years is a typical example of this behaviour. As some foreign authors have observed, the Kashmiris seems to have evolved a philosophy of survival. If you can’t beat them, join them but only for survival and not for the sake of any principles. What they want in reality, they keep it hidden in their hearts and when any opportunity shows up where the resolve of the oppressor appears weakening, they burst out with vengeance!
The tragedy of the present times is that the very political leaders who did everything in their hands to weaken whatever autonomy or independence the State had for their own selfish and short term goals are now crying hoarse for its restoration. There cannot be anything more hypocritical than that! On the other hand, the others who painted some alluring and beautiful utopian dreams of a free and a self-ruled Kashmir are making every possible effort to remove any traces of the autonomy left unintentionally by over sight. The misfortune is that the gullible people would again be taken for a ride by these virtual “Political Leeches”!However, the only light at the end of the tunnel is the new generation which refuses to budge and is determined to reach the goal of ultimate salvation. So if peace is to return to Kashmir, it is this generation which needs to be approached and spoken to in a totally free atmosphere without any allurement or fear. How can that be done and who can do that is a million dollar question!
Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir