The Cup of “Poison”!

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(The cup of poison called “Hemlock” which Socrates was forced to drink has always turned out to be the cup of the “Water of Life” for the mainstream politicians of Kashmir!)

The former Chief Minister after losing the seat of power by sudden and unannounced withdrawal of support by BJP to her coalition government declared that the initial alliance with them was like drinking a “Cup of Poison”. The allusion seems to be to the famous historical event of the Greek philosopher Socrates who too was made to drink a cup of poison. It would be interesting to reproduce the history of the event as given in Wikipedia. “The trial of Socrates (399 BC) was held to determine the philosopher’s guilt of two charges: asebeia (impiety) against the pantheon of Athens, and corruption of the youth of the city-state; the accusers cited two impious acts by Socrates: “failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges” and “introducing new deities”.The death sentence of Socrates was the legal consequence of asking politico-philosophic questions of his students, from which resulted the two accusations of moral corruption and of impiety. At trial, the majority of the dikasts (male-citizen jurors chosen by lot) voted to convict him of the two charges; then, consistent with common legal practice, voted to determine his punishment, and agreed to a sentence of death to be executed by Socrates’s drinking a poisonous beverage of hemlock”.

Socrates gave his life for certain principles. He refused to go along with the false Gods of the Greek Pantheon and spread the knowledge among the youth for which he had to pay with his life. On the contrary our Kashmiri politicians have been drinking from the cup which has virtually proved to be the water of life for them right from 1947. Like the proverbial cat they have nine lives and in some cases may be even many more! They have been doing so for hiding the truth! In spite of many upheavals, turn arounds and somersaults they continue to survive with vigour! From the first “Cup of Poison” taken by the Kashmir’s “tallest” leader in 1947 itself, there has been a routine of all the so called mainstream leaders drinking the cup of whatever potion one may say ostensibly for the sake of the public but in reality for their own self and their family’s sake!

In case of the last ruler who claimed to have taken a cup of poison by collaborating with BJP for the sake of people, Kashmiris faced the worst sufferings in the recent past. Scores were killed and wounded, hundreds were hit with pellets and almost a hundred people totally lost their eyesight. Dozens of houses were completely destroyed and village upon village was totally pillaged and vandalized. Kashmir’s biggest mosque remained locked up on umpteen Fridays and people could not offer prayers on scores of Fridays. A few thousand people especially the youth were detained and some were put under continuous detention under Public Safety Act. After her ignominious departure one would have thought that the others would take a cue and come on the straight path. Not at all. They seem to be eager to drink from the “Cup of Poison” even if they have to sell their mothers for a price! Somehow the so called poison in the cups of Kashmir appears to be a potion which turns these leaders into virtual blood sucking leaches. They fall only when they have sucked the blood to their fill! Unfortunately for the poor wretched people, they have been themselves picking up and putting these leaches back on their bodies to suck more blood!

So far these leaders have been leading Kashmiris like sheep from one pasture to other. However, there is a change now. Kashmir has a new generation. The generation which was born and brought up in turmoil. No matter how many cups of hemlock or honey or somras the Kashmiri mainstream politicians drink, they are not going to make any impression on this new generation! The new generation of Kashmiris is beyond their control. They do not follow any leaders. They are leaders in themselves. Their alienation from the mainstream appears totally irreversible. They have spread the infection of “Azadi” throughout the length and breadth of Kashmir. In spite of the use of maximum force, the authorities are unable to control or cow them down. There can be no solution unless a way is found to address this generation. All out operations are not going to solve the problem. These are rather compounding it. Every killing is giving rise to ten new recruits. The only way is to address the basic political problem in an open and unconditional dialogue. The first and foremost requirement is to create a conducive atmosphere for that. The threats of obliterating the very existence through repealing of different legislations are going to add fuel to the already simmering fire. Let us hope all the politicians will forget about drinking various cups and concentrate on somehow bringing peace to the troubled paradise!

Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir


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