Political brinkmanship in Kashmir

How in essence, politics in India has been reduced merely to the battle of perceptions  

kashmir Lal Chowk 9 August 2019

In the India of today  what is passed for politics is actually nothing more than the management of perceptions which is being pursued to perfection in Kashmir. Here it is sheer rancour, malice and malevolence towards this place and its people that define how politics is supposed to be conducted in this region where even the act of speaking the truth is deemed a rebellion and used to stifle voices of reason and sanity. How else does one make sense of the deafening silence in Kashmir on this pathological obsession with inanities and utter senselessness of those in power, involving this stupidity of renaming our schools, roads and buildings in Kashmir, and that too in ‘memory” of those who nobody knows or even has heard of here in Kashmir. This is in continuation of that equally grotesque and senseless exercise of renaming more than 25 places in the last few years including the historic cities of Allahabad, Faizabad respectively as Prayagraj and Ayodhya or the Mughalsarai railway station in UP as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya (DDU) station. Or take this case of the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi that was rechristened as the Arun Jaitley stadium for no great reason other than you know what – obsession with the trivial and the banal. One can imagine the same sort of fate awaiting the historic cities like Aligarh, Moradabad and many more places down the line.

In the case of Kashmir, such acts by the high and mighty are informed by what comes across as an appalling level of ignorance, especially among the current brand of leaders who seem to wallow themselves in this wishful, make believe world where they are ‘taught’ to think that “Kashmiris would be left to fend for themselves if it had not been for the benevolence of the Indian political Establishment to shower ‘goodies’ upon them, including in terms of the deployment of a massive million odd army personnel in Kashmir! And then this figment of their imagination that Kashmiris would get starved to death if India were to block supply of food and essential commodities to the valley which would result in their dream of “Azadi, Pakistan” etc. evaporate into the thin air”. Those who have followed the political developments in Kashmir, at least over the past few years would do well to recall that during the Amarnath agitation in 2008, this guy in the PMO- Jitendra Rana- had managed to enforce a complete blockade of food and other essentials from Jammu into the valley. Incidentally, this particular brand of politics played by him that had fitted perfectly well with the Sanghi worldview of politics and that is being adopted, practiced and executed by the politicians in its political outfit – the BJP – with exemplary steadfastness had endeared him to the BJP top brass that had finally landed him in his present plush position in the PMO. In any case, what these wiser than thou politicians don’t wish to acknowledge is that during that crisis and even on similar other occasions including in the ghastly aftermath of the Aug.5th betrayal of Kashmir by them, Kashmiris had not only survived but had done so with a bang by reaching out and helping each other in unprecedented ways. They would do well to know that whatever is imported into the Kashmir valley from other parts of India is not by way of an act of charity, but is procured through hard cash, hard earned money of Kashmiris, as of course it should be, unlike what we in Kashmir are made to go through even in the best of circumstances – getting peanuts in return for such things as, say electricity that we generate, and in oodles, but that most of it gets diverted to other parts of India, leaving this place high and dry for the better part of the year. This is done through brute force as it were, involving acts of arm twisting tactics by the Centre vis a vis Kashmir, including the canard spread by it that ‘Kashmiris are subsisting on the largesse doled out to them by India’. Nothing could be farther from truth.

The story does not stop there, though. The impact of such developments, especially upon the youth of Kashmir has already been too immense to ignore. Having to be confined within the four walls of their homes and without the luxury of their peers to interact with – the confinement on account of the Covid pandemic being of a recent vintage – one can imagine the trauma and mental agony that they must be going through. The serious repercussions of such a state of mind on their personality development are too many to reckon in detail which one can’t even begin to imagine. In fact, there already are too many instances of those budding young boys and girls upon whom the impact of the ubiquitous violence and the prevailing political uncertainty has extracted a huge price in the shape of them having lost their direction and the sense of purpose. The point is that the situation has been no less exacerbated by an almost total absence of justice and fair play in the system which is being run, governed, managed and manipulated by the ruthless politicians who fete themselves on the denial of justice and violation of human rights of the citizens who thus have nowhere to go to seek restoration of their dignity and honour, considering that the system has failed them roundly and completely.

The fact remains that whereas previously such acts of hamhandedness were being committed in brazen violation of the existing norms as stipulated in the rule book, the sheer perversity of those doing it now do so by seeking to sanctify such and even worse acts through the so-called ‘formal legislations’ which are sought to disempower, destabilise, deracinate and debase the society and its culture. The disgraceful exit of the Americans following a similar fate of the Soviets from Afghanistan about three decades ago should be seen as a terse lesson for those who lay greater store by the military muscle than the need to win the hearts and minds of a people through reason, reconciliation and rapprochement. The world of today is past that stage where people may be fooled into believing, and buying into the politics of hate, wickedness and vengeance under the garb of nationalism.

Prof. M. A. Sofi

Email: [email protected]


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