Demon of Famine Is Caged
The Story of Doles and Concessions is Too Old
NOSTALGIA BY Z.G.M
It was an orchestrated political discourse to change the mainstream political narrative of the state. I would have hardly understood it at that tender age but I have very vivid impressions how the gossip on the shop fronts doubted these brilliantly orchestrated political discourses.
Sometime back in this column I had written about the political phraseology that was very much in currency in our locality in second half of fifties- Oh! That is my childhood.
Many political epithets had got woven into the popular discourses. Many had become inalienable part of political gossips on the shop fronts. Most of these were authored and popularized by the Azad Kashmir Radio. Those days the Azad Kashmir Radio had the highest listenership, a larger section of Kashmir society had almost become addicted to some of its daily programs like “Manat-Dab” and Zarab-i-Kaleem. The radio sets mostly remained tuned to this low frequency radio station at shortwave 60.3 and 49. To receive this radio station with clarity people used to put radio aerials on the rooftops. The Azad Kashmir radio was more popular for lampooning and ridiculing some ministers for their buffooneries and oddities. Some of the ministers of that period are still remembered by their nicknames and for their silly things.
The radio station not only played an important role in creating an aura around the then popular leadership but added new phrases to the political lexicon of the state. The Gouga and Demagouga were two most popular words that were added to the political lexicon of Kashmir in my childhood. I do not know if these words have a root and a history or were new meaningless coinages that attained a meaning on their usage. As I understand the word ‘Gouga’ broadly connoted a ‘collaborator’. The word was used for the group of political workers that had not stood by their leader in 1953 but had jumped over the power bandwagon with Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad in the driver’s seat. The word remained a preserve for this group of political workers and failed to get assimilated in the later day political lexicon of Kashmir. The word ‘demagouga’ was used for the breakaway group from the National Conference that had named itself as the Democratic National Conference.
Sometime in the past in this column I had written a house in our vicinity had become hub of activities of the Democratic National Conference. Ironically majority of the workers of this party that gathered in this house belonged to the minority community but they voiced concern for the majority community. Some of them later on found their way to ministerial berths, some made to top slots in the government and some became teachers in Kashmir University. In these sparsely attended meetings these leaders more than often protested against the political hoodlums and raised slogans for feeding the ‘hungry multitudes in rural areas’. They raised full throat slogans inside the house. It is a different story that the group never dared to hold a meeting in the open in our locality.
The most popular slogan of this splinter group of the National Conference avowedly known for communist leaning was Bookhoun Ko Roti Do, (feed the starving and empty stomachs). The group demanded cheaper ration for the people. Ostensibly, the reason for raising these populist slogans was to give a mass base to the newly launched group pitied against the National Conference led by Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad. However it is a matter of debate that if the slogan for the “cheap rice” raised by the leadership with the left leanings was targeted at changing the major political narrative of the state. But, as I remember it was a time when the movement for right to self-determination and demand for a plebiscite in the state under the aegis of the United Nations had started gathering momentum and it was becoming popular with the new generation. Notwithstanding the Front leadership being tried for conspiracy against the Indian state the popularity of its movement was manifested through the walls covered with graffiti and posters on the lamppost.
I remember a grand orchestra about the ‘cheap rice’ at the martyr’s graveyard that suggests that it was a dole to subvert the major political narrative. It was on 13th July, somewhere after mid fifties, the exact year has escaped from my mind I along with my friend Bashir Ahmed after having witnessed the procession from our home joined the gathering squatting on the lawns of the martyr’s graveyard. It was our best pastime to collect the wreathes and garlands of flower from the martyrs graveyard after the procession would be over. We tried to wade our way through the crowd to limestone chiseled grave site but were forced to sit down. A huge canopy had been erected on the massive limestone stage. Many leaders and some poets were reclining against white bolsters on the stage. A red cheeked chubby volunteer- who perhaps was working as a ticket checker in the State Transport Department first appeared on the stage. He shouted full throat slogans, and then some poet paid his tributes to the martyrs and after a few speakers Prime Minister, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad started delivering his speech. While he was speaking two men sitting in the front rows got up- they cried Bakshi Sahib you are our bub (father), people are starving- the rice is becoming unaffordable… save us , give more subsidy on rice. Bakshi with a smile on his face asked them to sit down- and then in chaste Kashmiri told people- don’t worry the demon of famine (Draag-e-Jin) referring to Sheikh or to Beg has been caged. Forget about the jinni and his green pastures, forget his slogans, he will never come out of the cage- he is there forever. Enjoy! barges and truckloads of cheap rice will be at your door steps- there will be rice, rice, and rice everywhere…there was an applause from first few rows and silence dawned on rest of the crowd…
The man in the street in our locality very well understood the political machinations and sinister political moves and looked down upon the “cheap rice” politics.
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Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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