The Freedom I Fear

kashmir azadi

No other right has been so dear to humans as the right to freedom. Freedom has been the bedrock of whole humanity. Then clearly stated the history of all human societies has been the history of struggle for freedom. The very creation of the humans has been justified by the free will granted to them. So it is freedom that defines a human being, his humanity, his faculties, his mode of thinking, feeling, behaving and acting. But his right to freedom, his capacity of handling such a delicate right was questioned from the day one. Man was believed to either mishandle the quantum of freedom granted to him or misuse it. This apprehension no more seems a fantasy, a miscalculation; but the time has proved its validity and authenticity beyond any doubt. The present scenario makes us believe that man has not been able to handle the freedom the way it ought to have! But if such a bold claim is ever made it needs some authentic baking, as truth demands authenticity.

Every now and then we can hear a reverberating boom of hundreds and thousands of voices in their highest pitches shouting and demanding freedom. The phenomenon has a long history but since the dawn of media and especially the social media it is galvanizing every passing day.  This bandwagonism has forced people from every nook and corner and from all strata of the population to be part of this slogan- raising resulting in the behavioral conditioning of the entire people of the valley. Abnormal traits are routinely expressed in our normal behavior and it is a worsening situation. Routinization has occurred to the extent that people hardly differentiate between normal and abnormal (be it the behavior or the situation). The conflict has metamorphized us all and we are no longer what we were and what we ought to have been. Every passing day we are robbed off our traits, dehumanized; and dehumanized to the point that sometimes we cease to be humans at all. This is what oppression leads to; it saps the very vitals of a man, pollutes and diverts his best energies, hence is regarded as a greatest calamity of humanity. Oppression dehumanizes; not only the oppressed but oppressor as well and hence has a tendency to turn the struggle for freedom into a struggle of dehumanized against dehumanized. When this tipping point is crossed, this thresh hold is reached, neither the oppressor nor the oppressed feel bound by customs, laws and other human values. An oppressor can crush the oppressed under their bullet proof vehicles without feeling sorry for the act and the oppressed can stone school buses without showing any mercy at all. A tourist may be killed ruthlessly and his killers, no named though but known to all. The sangbazs! Isn’t it a plural term?  Mercilessness prevails all over! What needs to be feared is perhaps the freedom of the oppressor to oppress the way he wants and the freedom of the oppressed to resist the oppression the manner they want. Can we, while seeking to regain our lost humanity become the oppressor of the oppressed or of the oppressors? Can we really?

For the oppressor; when it is acknowledged (by the chief of the army) that the problem has no military solution, why not then the state shows courage and initiates a meaningful dialogue. Is killing the people you claim your own, a national interest? Does fulfillment of national interest necessarily require waging a war?  Why to wage a war which can never be won or lost by either of the two sides? The war that has engulfed millions of lives, stolen the precious times, destroyed homes and houses and is still in vogue. Perhaps because it wants to raise the costs of resistance to an unbearable limits. Pelletting, bulleting, arresting the people. Destroying what it can and killing whom it wants. It is in a rampant killing mood, killing with provocation or without and enjoying immunity for all its acts.  Freedom with such a brute power is dangerous.  Why to provoke, when the end is known? Isn’t survival better option under such circumstances than self-inhalation or self- sacrifice? Let the glamour be taken away from the death and let the tactic of retreat be learnt. Let it be taken into consideration that movements never follow a linear path like straight lines but proceed in phases. Let survival be next phase of the movement.

The minds are often invaded with the notion that there are different versions of freedom; one for the elite (mainstream) many for the separatists, one for the civil society (if there exists any) and many for the public. There is no unanimity on the meaning of freedom at all. Even those holding guns (rebels), killing and getting killed hold different and sometimes contradictory notions of freedom. Even their martyrdoms are associated with their brand of freedom. The irony, it is said, is that no four Kashmiris can define freedom in a same manner with the same meaning. All are busy selling their brand of freedom and all are paying a huge price in gaining the market. The differences are so wide and open that they are easily manipulated, exploited by the protagonists of all strata. The fault lines are turning bloody and may become bloodiest in the coming times. Freedom has been rendered to a mere confusing term, a slippery concept which is understood little and confused a lot. It is stated that in your part of the world the word connote as many meanings as many people speak of it, speak about it. If that is a reality what made them to say then “you can’t get Azadi.” Aren’t they sure about the concrete meaning of Azadi? We know that they know and they know that we know. Confusions are deliberate creations because confusions strengthen occupation. Population is deliberately made to suffer from duality. Duality is a sort of character in which people know the meaning and value of freedom and from other side they fear the freedom. This duality hinders emancipation.

The question that haunts me is that do we exactly know where we are heading towards? Are we all holding a destructing manual in our hands and are fast destroying each other. How long shall we all march on this path? Let us take some time to introspect. Can’t we have an accommodative view of freedom where all the people from all the regions may find solace with that freedom? If Jammu and Ladakh have problems with my notion of freedom I must acknowledge that there is an inherent flaw in my notion of freedom. Let we have an accommodative view of freedom.

For leadership; Leaders must not dictate rather must think along with people, fight along with people not against them not over them. They must not boss rather walk along with the people and prefer collective thinking rather than their own. If freedom is defined as right to self determination does not it has a tendency to mean rejecting one oppressor to accept another?  Isn’t it a servitude vs servitude option? Who have to decide at the end, people or the leadership?  Ambiguities are good but when it comes to the future of the oppressed lot we must have a clear vision, a clear goal and a clear modus operandi. Does not our notion of freedom shrink every space for accommodation and toleration? Has not it created binaries, often opposite, and made us feel like opposites, think like opposites and act like opposites. We no longer feel the pain and agony of the one we consider ‘other’. This feeling of otherness is fast corroding our social fabric and our sense of humanity.

Isn’t it that we operate through some box type thinking and have bought some readymade solutions for the ever worsening situations? On causalities one group (JRL) come out with a shutdown call and on every protest the other group (mainstream) impose restrictions, close down educational institutions, snatches internet and other mobile services. Such has been the psychological impact of these moves and countermoves that students and teachers do not turn to their schools and colleges the day they see internet services snatched from their mobiles. Snatching of internet services is considered a bad omen. One fails to understand that if the people have right to agree why cannot they enjoy right to dissent and if their vote is honuored, valued and counted why not their disagreement? Why to demonize our colleges, our students?

When in a society living becomes tough, applying brute force became a norm, death is glorified and martyrdom has glamour added to it, that society is surely on a dangerous crossroads. Let we understand that living is more important than dying or killing. After all sometimes retreat is more important and fruitful than advance. How many Dr. Manans and Dr. Rafi Mohammads, Burhans and Saddhams can we afford to lose and for how long? Let us introspect!

The author is Assistant Professor Political Science and can be reached at [email protected]                  


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