Stones. Shoes. What next are we waiting for?
MEANS OF PROTEST MIGHT HAVE CHANGED, VOICE REMAINS THE SAME. THE VOICE OF ANGER, HATRED AND REVULSION, COMMENTS MASROOK DAR
Two years before when an Egypt-based al-Baghdadia Television Network Journalist, Muntadar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at United States president George W Bush at a Baghdad press conference It made to news headlines worldwide. Two years after the incident, a Kashmiri cop, Abdul Ahad Jan, threw his shoe at the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah at the event of Independence Day parade at Bakshi Stadium Srinagar. However, the difference between the two incidents is that, it was not a Kashmiri journalist but cop working under the directions of CM. The youngest Chief Minister of the state was manhandled at SKIMS a few days before when he went on a visit to the hospital. After few minutes, when the incident of shoe throwing happened Kashmir’s young but politically active youth started debating the incident on the social networking site Facebook. Most of the debaters were overwhelmingly delighted by this brave act of heroism, according to them, by a Kashmiri cop.
Throwing of shoes on someone is considered the height of expressing protest and hatred in the Arab world in general and Muslim world in particular. The shoe throwing by a policeman on Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is the first of its kind in Kashmir, but Kashmiris have used all the other forms of protests against the state during the past six decades. Past three years saw a drift in the way of protesting by Kashmiri protesters. Stones took the place of green flags that protesters used to carry during early 90’s. Slogans changed from pro-Pakistan to pro-Kashmir, from accession to Pakistan to free sovereign Kashmir nonetheless, the voice of secession from Indian state never changed. Even if not a single inch of territory has changed in these years so hasn’t the voice of changing it changed.
Slogans on different Facebook groups where reverberating in favor of the cop involved in the incident. A policeman in no time turned out to be the hero of Kashmir. Though the Valley’s top cop Kuldeep Khoda was quick enough to say that the cop was not an ASI but a mere Head Constable, as was reported by some news channels, who was suspended sometime before and an FIR (Criminal charges) is registered against him at Parimpora police station. No matter whether the cop was an ASI or a Head Constable the people of Kashmir made him a hero in no time. “Teri Jan Meri Jan ~ Ahad Jan Ahad Jan” (your life my life – Ahad Jan Ahad Jan), “Kashmir ka naya sitara Ahad Jan tuj pe jaan qurbaan” (The new star of Kashmir, Ahad Jan, my life for you) were the lines written all over the Facebook.
The police version about the cop involved in the incident, the attacker was suspended before sometime and is mentally ill, has some serious loopholes. If the cop was suspended how come was he present at the venue and that too in the third row of VIP lounge, which is meant for top police officials. Many political analysts are of the opinion that the state police are at the verge of rebellion. Earlier this month the news of some police officials not turning up to the official duties had created fear psychosis within the state administration that the state police is going to rebel. Political analysts are of the opinion that it is a difficult situation for Jammu and Kashmir police as they are fighting their own people who come up with stones in their hands and police uses brute force to kill them. Even within the ranks of police officials the sense of being ostracized, form their own people, can be smelled. Till now except the state police every state department has joined the separatist calendar and are following it accordingly.
Though the Chief Minister did not loose his temper after the shoe-throwing incident, he was cool and calm and in his speech spoke about the anger of the people on the streets of Kashmir valley. CM said that let them throw shoes but not stones as a mark of protest as the later results in violence. But the Chief Minister’s statement had no effect on these young Kashmiri tech savvy, politically active youth. These young guys came up with the counter statements on Facebook, one such statement read, “SHOE at stadium, manhandling at SKIMS, STONES elsewhere. What next? Don’t ever say we didn’t warn you.” Such is the anger on the streets of Kashmir Valley. One more statement which caught my eye on a Facebook page was “why is Omar not resigning yet, is he still waiting 4 more…” This statement clearly shows that the first priority of these tech savvy youth is that the CM should resign. Whether the resignation of the CM will cool down the anger of the youth or not is a matter of chance, but these young Kashmiris want the CM to step down.
There are reports that Omar Abdullah had thought of stepping down in the wake of unending cycle of innocent killings. But the National Conference patron and Omar’s father Dr. Farooq Abdullah advised Omar not to step down. A large section of Kashmiri society is of the opinion that if the present government resigns from the assembly it will get an unprecedented welcome from the streets of Srinagar. Valleys large population argues that if the present government cannot achieve anything democratically from the central government they should resign from any such setup. These statements are not only coming from the streets of Valley but also from the politicians of the ruling National Conference Party. Over the last two months these politicians have repeatedly said that New Delhi is not sincere in it promises to solve Kashmir issue. Once such statements come from the ruling party the counter argument from the streets of Kashmir is that if they know that New Delhi is not sincere then why are they ruling the state at the behest of New Delhi.
Not only has the anger of Kashmir fueled by the mainstream political leaders from Kashmir and New Delhi but also by the National media, who left no stone unturned to prove the situation in Kashmir as paid by Pakistan and LeT. The Indian national media filled with Goswamis and Swamis for whom every Kashmiri is either a threat or a potential threat to the state of India, have taken these Kashmiri youth too far from New Delhi. The lines of dictatorship and democracy have got blurred in Kashmir. People protesting on the virtual space are not spared how can we say that those on streets will be spared. Thousands of Kashmiris are languishing in different jails on the pretext of protecting state property. The sate apparatus and state ideological apparatus are blended in such a way that a voice of common Kashmiri remains unheard.
Every individual knows that the political discourse of Kashmir is extremely complex. But being complex does not necessarily mean impossible. Kashmiri political leaders, separatists, Indian political leaders and more importantly the civil society across the divide needs to wake up in order to bring normalcy to the Kashmir valley which has seen worst kind of violence in the past two months since the armed insurgency started in the valley in 1989. Rigidity and national pride is not going to bring normalcy to Kashmir but flexibility, of course, across the divide can narrow down the gap between New Delhi and Srinagar.
(Masrook Dar is from EFL University, Hyderabad)
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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