Kashmiris’ Dambulla trick
BAND-AIDS OR MACHO NATIONALISM WON’T HELP, COMMENTS PROF. M. I. BHAT
Scoreboard for the team Central-Sate Governments in the vast elliptical stadium – the Kashmir Valley -- is continuously rolling upwards -- some days inching with ones and twos, some days leaping with boundaries -- towards a century, may be double, triple or even infinite. It is like Sehwag gone berserk with his bat the other day in Dambulla stadium against Sri Lanka. They don’t let a shot go dot. But like Sehwag, the team Central-State may not have the luck to record the pride of a century despite apparently hitting 105! Even a decimated team can have a trick or two up its sleeves was amply demonstrated by Sri Lakan captain. Sangakkara’s bowler did throw the ball but little did Shewag know that his dream of scoring a century was already over before he hit the no-ball for a six!
Team Central-State may no doubt be shooting the people every minute of the day but the match is long over for them. Like a few Indians in the Dambulla stadium who felt ecstatic at Shewag’s six, there is a section of people in India – specifically RSS cadres in their different shades including BJP -- who must be feeling thrilled at the rising death toll of Kashmiri Muslims. But the team Central-State knows the match was over the day people started unarmed demonstrations in 2008. I know comparing an unethical tactical act of one individual player in the final dying moment of the game with the strategic shift in the direction of the struggle of a people may seem over the top, but it is the Dambulla trick that Kashmiris have played on the Government of India when they made a shift to non-violent movement against the Indian rule.
Who is the adversary this time around that team Central-State is shooting at blindly day in and day out? The unarmed kids, teenagers and women folk! Each bullet shot at them shoots the father of non-violent movement and Indian nation, Mahatma Gandhi, over and over again. When paramilitary forces lynched and trampled to death under their boots a nine year old kid they trampled the spirit of democracy with him. When they put bullets in the head of 8 year kids, shot dead a teenage girl looking for her physically challenged brother, repeatedly shoot at funeral processions, or arrest kids and octogenarians they robbed India of the moral high ground to denounce and demonize Taliban for their ‘barbarian’ acts. Has the Taliban accomplished anything crueler? Certainly nobody has reported Taliban blinding people. We have got dozens -- mostly teenagers -- so far with the community left to nourish some with gouged out eyes. But may be team Centre-State knows more about Taliban cruelty that rest of the world doesn’t know!
One of the biggest demonstrations so far was on 13 August at Jamia Masjid, Srinagar. Yet, not a single stone was thrown. Why? Simply because the team Central-State withdrew its shooters from the field. Isn’t that telling enough how and why stone pelting initiates in the first place?
When every national news channel is competing with one another every moment of the day and night in shaming India globally through their exposures of CWG scams, no one is accusing them of being working at the behest of some instigators or pay masters. But when Kashmiris protest calculated murders of their innocent brethren in fake encounters or rape of their women, instigators are located in a jiffy. My observation over the past ten years that I have been in permanent residence in Kashmir is that whenever a militant was killed in an encounter, no body raised an eyebrow. Rather, people accepted the corpse, said the ritual prayers and buried it.
Matter closed there. But whenever an innocent was killed, people protested. As is known, though less highlighted, the current upheaval had its beginning in one such fake encounter in north Kashmir. Rather than soothing emotions of the protesters in such situations, Government always resorts to bullets as the first and only response, with national media in toe to seek justification in patriotic sentiments.
Self-deception does provide momentary comfort but it is the worst enemy in the long run. Media black out didn’t stop Naxal spread from a non-descript West Bengal village, Naxalbari, to its current sway, by Government admission, over one-third of India. Characterizing it now after four decades as the greatest internal threat didn’t come to common Indian masses as a mere surprise but as a rude shock. Had it been allowed a fraction of public knowledge that, for instance, GDP growth has of late been receiving, it is more likely that open public discourse of the problem might have helped find some political solution to the problem that emerged from pure injustice to the villagers in 1968, and could have been solved by introducing necessary legal-judicial procedures. Instead it was treated as a law and order problem with the colonial text book solution of more police action and recruitment, ensuring its growth (far outstripping GDP growth!) to the full-fledged armed violence, now openly and forcefully challenging the Government of India authority.
In the case of Kashmir, six decades of self-deception is not a short period. More so now, when it is not armed militants challenging the authority of the Government, where State and Central Governments could seek domestic and international sympathy and support against terrorists. It is a whole unarmed population in revolt against Government of India. Accept Kashmiri’s have played the Sangakkara trick on the Indian Government long before Dambulla and let common Indians know it before it hits them as another shock.
Break the apparent Government-media-compact of putting curtains on the blood letting of kids, teenagers and women in Kashmir and let ordinary, common Indians into the discourse. A TV discussion once in a while on English news channels (that too after more than one and half month of blood letting) is not enough. It doesn’t reach common masses. If Kalamadi and his deeds can attract 24 x 7 media over such an extended period of time, why isn’t it important for people of India to know in equal measure, if not more, about continuing unarmed uprising and deaths in Kashmir?
In a democratic dispensation common masses are supposed to be the supreme in national decision making. Let the common masses of India see and hear about developing situation in Kashmir to make a judgment about the use of live munitions against these peaceful demonstrators but not against the violent demonstrators of the “nationalist” class on occasions like recent Bharat Bandh across India or frequent ones by MNS cadres in Maharashtra. Let them see how kids (as small as 6 to 10 yrs), teenagers (boys and girls), women and men (as old as 90+) are leading the protests. Let them understand and realize what prompts these people come out on streets even with the certain knowledge of being shot in the head or heart. Let them know what this whole population is chanting across every nook and corner of Kashmir.
Most importantly, let them also know that in spite of the government locking the most revered Jamia Masjid and holding back Kashmiri Muslims from praying there for weeks on or the heinous desecration of the sanctum sanctorum of the most revered Hazratbal shrine by the State and Central police forces, Kashmiri Muslims even under such extremely provocative acts didn’t even once hinder the on-going Amarnath yatra or forgot to share whatever food they could scrap under the current dire food shortages with their non-local Hindu residents (like they did with Amarnath yatris in 2008 at the peak of their agitation against Amarnath land transfer row when nationalist Hindus in Jammu had created severe food shortages in the Kashmir valley by blocking Jammu-Srinagar highway). Let them also know that when the CRPF troopers were shooting a trio of 19 year girl (who with bullet shot in her chest is on a ventilator battling for life), her father and aunt in Soura, just a few kilometers away in Tulmula, Muslims (yes Muslims) where performing the last rites of an 80 year old Hindu who lived and died alone in the Kheer Bhawani temple there. Indeed the deeds of a people who truly believe what falls in the insaniyat kay daairay mein; not of those who use it as a mere deceptive, convoluted rhetoric.
Democracy is about public awareness, debate and participation. Let the common Indian masses have this right to possibly help contribute to the best solution of the problem. Years and decades of rule do not matter in the history of a nation; unemotional and pragmatic thinking behind a decision of national import on any day does. Ban on SMS and news channels or imposing curfews or display of macho nationalism do not reflect mature and pragmatic political decision making. It is like putting band-aids here and their on a gaping limb suffering gangrene. That doesn’t help cure it. Indeed, that it is stinking and the stink has started spreading far and wide is the message from the petition that Prime Minister received from the Indian and South Asian diaspora organizations and civil liberties organizations in Britain against “brutal murders” and human rights violations in Kashmir. Time to act before there are global demands for quarantine, with tremendous consequences for India’s international image.
(The author is Professor and Head Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Kashmir. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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