Harud literary festival
When you attend fests elsewhere why boycott it in Kashmir?
ANALYSIS BY INAM UL REHMAN
So the ‘Harud’ literary festival has been shelved with many Kashmiri writers parroting one line: How can it be apolitical in a political environment? Those who raise such questions resemble school going kids who are told if their uniform is not ironed they won’t be allowed to enter the premises!
Having political and apolitical functions always depends on the participants. When the slain Hurriyat Conference leader Abdul Gani Lone went to Pakistan Administrated Kashmir in connection with the marriage of his son with the daughter of JKLF Supermo, Amanullah Khan, scribes asked him: did they talk politics. The slain leader answered: When politicians meet they don’t discuss weather.
The signatures of the letter, that was posted on a blog and circulated generously on social network and reproduced by some news websites, include a journalist who in Jane’s Intelligence Review termed the 2010 protests of Kashmir as ‘anti government protests’. It also included people who tell interviewers that every word of “their work is ‘political’ and how can they be apolitical in a festival”! Now it comes from the mouth of a person who in his fictional account fictionalised the real names and events! It has been argued that the fictional work puts huge question mark on the veracity of a journalist’s reports and analysis whether what appears under his byline is fact or fiction or a mix of both! Among the signatories, include an Indian historian who asks Kashmiri people to have ‘vision of peace’ as if peace is the jurisdiction of the latter not of the State! For her the State is all peaceful and Kashmiris force the State to abandon its policy of peace and reconciliation!
In the subsequent write-ups, the way writers expressed themselves showed their fickleness and implausible reasoning. If they have no objection in sitting across the sessions of the same festival in India why do they raise objections in Kashmir? The bunch of writers now question the festival when they have no qualms of discussing their books in the same festival held in other places of India. That time they didn’t question the source of its funding but here in Kashmir they raise objections! Then they raise the bogey of past atrocity of a regime. The same way British colonist used to portray the old order of India in oppressive manner to justify their existence in the subcontinent. Is the oppression of Dogra regime more brutal, more heinous than the current State? Or is it because the current State provides them opportunity while the repressive Dogra regime ‘snatched’ their ‘wealth’? No sane person can equate the autocracy of one person with the brutality of the State.
It would have been the first festival of its kind where no status quoist politician would have taken part. So, where the authors supposed not to discuss their work in the literary festival, as they make us believe. Was the literary festival a closed-door affair? Or where they afraid that they won’t be given special status in their own State where they never tire off to show that their personal narratives are the voices of unheard Kashmiris! Were they afraid that they would speak in an audience which knows too much and are too radical for their liking. Where they afraid that others, not their chosen one, will hear them out? Where they apprehensive that audience will challenge their narratives? Where they afraid that new writers, who write in unambiguous terms about the repression rather then taking refugee in ambiguous terms and subtlety, will emerge?
If the State is adamant on showing the facade of normalcy in Kashmir, as the writers and journalists questioned, why are the same people falling into the State trap? With the postponement of the Harud festival what is the message conveyed: Kashmir is normal place where things are now decided by intellectual debates. It is interesting to note who started the bubble. Persons from Indian middle class who, according to Kancha Ilaiah, is, “A middle class like the Indian one, which has erected strong caste enclosures around itself, looks for morality to serve its own interests.”
Here in Kashmir those writers picked it up, who go to workshops where their minds are trained in a specific manner. In these workshops their radical thinking is contorted under the garb of creative writing. They are encouraged to mix broth of fiction with the real events. Then they act as cheerleaders for them. That is why many write-ups that came up in support of boycotting Harud festival sounded same with only the change of title! Great writers have ideas and that makes them beautiful and classic for all times.
Of course, people have every right to boycott any festival but not the right to control the thinking of the people. Writers should never consider that individual works of theirs makes them the representatives of the people. In a shrewd move, the two Kashmiri writers said that they just posed questions knowing fully well that in Kashmir they are the only Muslim authors who have got literary power to influence. They flexed literary muscle to save themselves from challengers. Some of our writers believe that they represent the people and only they have propriety to write about their anger within a sphere that the State allows them. Then they brag in a hall full of their self-admirers that it is their ‘vengeance’ (when the book “Until My Freedom Has Come...” the editor of the book screamed in the hall that this book is their vengeance to the State’s repression). There they don’t invite people who might raise questions on the narratives. Because they believe themselves as the custodians of oppressed people. Go and get the copy of ‘Beyond Intifada—Narratives of freedom fighters in the Gaza Strip’. It tells the first person account of those who have lost their limb, arm or paralysed for life while fighting the oppression of Israeli State on the roads —the real faces of resistance. Unlike here where intellectuals try to hijack the narrative of foot soldiers of resistance, ‘Beyond Intifada’, is unabashedly a narrative of common people. It is without interpretation. It came out because the Palestinian people didn’t boycott when Israeli intellectuals asked them to narrate their narratives in their own way. “Good writing,” wrote Hanif Kureishi in an essay ‘The art of Writing’, “should resist interpretation, summary and the need for applause.”
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OPINION
KASHMIR NEWS SERVICE
Srinagar, Sep 16: Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani Friday appealed people especially youth to carry forward the movement’ after his death. “Death and life is in the hands More
- Srinagar City
While admin sleeps, lack of coordination during macadamization makes roads vulnerable to accidents
Srinagar, Sep 16: While constructing manholes or laying of macadam, the authorities somehow fail to coordinate with each other thereby resulting in an uneven road connectivity, which risks the life of More
Jammu, Sep 16: Police today asked cyber cafe owners here to keep a record of internet users after a reported HUJI e-mail sent from a cyber cafe in Kishtwar district claimed responsibility for the Delhi More
- South Asia
NISAR AHMED THOKAR
Islamabad, Sep 16: The Indian High Commission on Friday issued visa to the former PaK premier Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chudhary, who is all set to visit Srinagar, to attend wedding ceremony of Dr Yasir More
Paris, Sep 16: A ban on praying in French streets came into effect today, with thousands of the nation's Muslim faithful being moved to temporary alternative spaces for their day of prayer. From Paris More