Take it Easy
With an agitated mindset we can only compound our problems
MEHMOOD UR RASHID
If the reports and columns in our newspapers, and the statements by the leaders of various political, social and religious parties, are taken as the only measure of how the people of a place believe and behave, then Kashmir is rife with sectarian divisions. But quite contrary to this impression our routine lives are way above and far removed from such divisions. Our friendships, professional relations, and the routine societal bonds are all functioning in a normal state of affairs. One doesn’t witness any perceptible change in this pattern of relationships. The issue of sectarian divisions is probably being overblown and wrongly represented. The petty differences that are now being projected as a manifestation of some new phenomenon were there from our childhood. The reason why it now appears maddeningly pervasive and singularly dreadful has much to do with our media. Earlier such issues were confined to the mosques of localities or groups in the towns and villages and would hardly look like a Kashmir-wide phenomenon, but given the obsession of media to break news after every second, it appears that Kashmir is all about sectarian division. The differences and the divisions that we talk about now have been ever present in our society. The problem is not with the presence of such differences (for there are some in-built mechanisms to finally come to terms with those differences) but with the presentation of these differences. When we talk in terms of elaborate conspiracies we make this problem look bigger than what it otherwise might be. When we relentlessly keep the talk of sectarian divide in limelight it appears as the only problem with the life in Kashmir. True that an overemphasis and over activism around the religious themes is an uneasy entry in Kashmir but the way newspapers and TV channels harp on this problem contributes to the mess.
The ugly incident at a mosque in Gandarbal is to be deconstructed very cautiously. If, as some parties seem to be doing, it is solely appropriated in this talk of sectarian divide it is bound to compound the problem. No doubt facts cannot be crafted to one’s liking but facts can be understood and projected in a manner that takes into account the vulnerabilities of this society. It doesn’t mean we have to set ourselves in a denial mode; that is never a solution. Problem does exist in our midst but the bigger problem is how we present this problem. How we talk about it, how we approach it and how we take it into public domain matters. One thing is decidedly clear; the presence of this issue in the media must slash down. That will deescalate this problem which is very urgently needed. The problem of divisiveness around religious themes can be tackled in an atmosphere where public and media attention doesn’t stuff the surroundings. The first thing about incidents like Ganderbal is to talk less about it in the public domain. Media is part of problem in this. The parties involved in this incident – National Conference and Jamamt e Islami – must act more responsibly in this case. Though the two cannot be compared in their politics and purpose, but just the fact that both belong to this society they are responsible to the people of Kashmir.
So the first thing needed is to reassure mental calm, at individual and collective level. For this Resistance parties and Religious platform would do better by staying off the media on this issue. Even amongst themselves when the problem is discussed anger and agitation should stay away. That has a twin benefit; one, if certain forces are really interested in creating divisions among Kashmiris, staying calm will inflict the first round of defeat on them. Second, calm and composure opens up the path to better understand a problem and come up with solutions to that.
The second thing required is to understand the fact that difference is the foundation of human civilization. God has created us and acts amongst us through this principle of difference. All of us cannot be alike on any single thing. There are some categorical enunciations in Quran on the concept of difference. Quran explains in a very easy tone that differences are going to stay among people and God alone can judge on these matters in the hereafter. So there is no reason to be anxious about this.
Finally, the young and the old associated with various Religious and Resistance parties can be educated and trained on the matter of how to tackle the question of difference. This can be done in a low profile manner, away from the media’s gaze.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 8 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 8 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 9 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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