(Most of the political leaders in Kashmir have been selling “Dreams” to the people that ultimately get interpreted in their own personal well-being leaving the people high and dry!)
The tragedy of Kashmir right from the start of the struggle of its people for emancipation has been their political leaders behaving like the “Dream Merchants”. The people have been shown from the very start some beautiful dreams which would ensure their total emancipation from the miseries of centuries of outside rule. The leaders, even though with sincerity start themselves believing in those unrealizable dreams butwhen they fail to realise these, they suffer, what one can call a “Dialectical Illusion”!
The famous German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote the “Critique of Pure Reason” in 1781 attempting to determine the limits and scope of metaphysics. He tries to dwell on the faculty of reason in respect of all knowledge after which one may strive independently of any experience thereby allowing one to reach a decision about the possibility and impossibility of various things. A “Dialectical Illusion” results when principles of understanding are attempted to be applied beyond the limits of understanding. In Kashmir, most of the so called mainstream politicians seem to be suffering from a dialectical illusion! They give us a thesis, then project its anti-thesis and then try to create a synthesis in which they go beyond the limits of their understanding and go into the dialectical illusion! The example is the recent joining of a brilliant young man the so called political “mainstream”!
If one goes by pure logic, there is a crystal clear underlying political problem in Kashmir. There is no illusion about it. It has been there for last 70 years or so. Right from 1947 our leaders have been taking us round and round. No one has given a clear cut goal and the path to reach it. The main reason being their getting confused by a dialectal illusion! It is a fact of history that Kashmiris have been suffering under foreign rule for last four centuries starting from the Mughal annexation of the valley by treachery. After four centuries of oppression and the worst kind of slavery there was an awaking. Kashmiris got a tall and forceful leader whom they expected to be a Messiah getting them freedom from centuries of slavery. The leader did lead them to almost the ultimate freedom but unfortunately he suffered from the dialectical illusion. Instead of the absolute freedom, he compromised for conditional freedom on the advice of another erstwhile Kashmiri. This mistake cost his people drearily and they are still paying for it in blood! As for the leader, he suffered another illusion and terming his 22 years struggle as waywardness he committed virtual political hara-kiri! He is the only dead person in Kashmir whose grave is guarded by the security forces!
After his first dethronement in 1953, Kashmir witnessed many political leaders but most were suffering from a deliberate illusion for their own selves and for their families. They did not jump into the Frey for the sake of the people. In fact, the first to betray him was his own lieutenant who had always stood by him. All the leaders who came after him suffered from the same illusion. They did not take a long term view of the situation but kept a narrow and a limited vision of immediate betterment of the people in material terms. They suffered the illusion that this will solve all the problems. The material well-being was the main consideration. The general masses too who had been living a life of pecuniary for ages were also swayed by this material bonanza and the higher ideals took a back seat. This also gave rise to nepotism as the people wielding the power tried to ameliorate their own dynasties. The ethical and moral values took a back seat!
During all these years some occasions came when there was direct confrontation between the ideals cherished by the masses for their ultimate goal and the vision sold to them by these “Dream Merchants”, political leaders of the so called mainstream. Even some of them supposedly honest in their dealings suffered the illusion of achieving the ultimate goal through the present political set ups. Ultimately, this escape from reality resulted in violent confrontation as the true and sincere ideals were not tolerated but brutally suppressed. This upheaval was given the name of militancy. The most violent episode claiming over a hundred thousand lives occurred in the nineties of the last century and was used fully by our neighbor to push their own view point. In a way the militant struggle initiated by locals for ultimate freedom was hijacked by them to further their own ideology.
The turmoil of the nineties gave birth to a new generation of Kashmiris. They are under no illusion, dialectical or the other. They are aiming for the final and the ultimate emancipation which they call, “Azadi”, the total freedom! They are not ready to compromise at any cost. Somehow, after facing persecution and harassment for decades, they have come to believe that armed struggle is the only way to achieve final and total emancipation. No one is able to convince them that a few hundred armed youth cannot displace the fully entrenched third largest army in the world! It is like giving mosquito bites to a huge elephant! The masses are following them even to the extent of trying to save them if they get trapped in a cordon of the security forces. The leaders preaching a peaceful struggle to achieve the final goal seem to have become irrelevant. The only solution offered by them is an endless call for shutdowns which harm locals economically than achieving any positive result!
Kashmir seems to have got stuck in what is called a “catch-22 situation”! Dictionary defines the phrase as “A catch-22 is a situation in which there is no good solution or resolution possible because of the way in which the factors of the solution relate to each other”. In order to come out of this situation, all our politicians have to come out of the “Dialectical Illusion” they are suffering from and face the facts as these are actually on the ground. The first reality is the existence of a basic political problem concerning the future of the state regardless of the fact that it may be a complicated one. The election fever is on and all the mainstream politicians are as usual creating the same “Dialectal Illusion” even though they very well know that nothing is going to happen unless the basic fact is recognised. Unfortunately, the common people keep on believing these “Dream Merchants” who have no aim except amelioration of their own selves and their families. Thus the illusion carries on and on and the people pay for the same with the blood of innocent youth! The only way out of the “Catch-22” situation is an all-inclusive unconditional dialogue among all the stakeholders.
Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir