Knowing the invisible hands
It can’t be shut, protest and forget. Someone somewhere eyes chaos
ARJIMAND HUSSAIN TALIB
A rational and impartial conclusion about what caused the fire at the Dastgeer sahab’s (RA) Srinagar memorial and the mosque is yet to come. It is not about jumping the gun, but a pattern of events makes certain conclusions inevitable. It is possible it might have been an accidental fire, ignited by an electrical short circuit. But that it could have been a deliberate act of some invisible hand cannot be brushed aside either.
As someone having studied electrical engineering, I tried to go back to text books, the memorial’s architecture last week and understand if a short-circuit could have been the cause of the fire. In this case it looks little improbable.
Technically, there are many causes for a short circuit to happen. In Kashmir’s context, commonly, worn out wiring and overheating of wires due to overloading results in a short circuit. But then a short circuit in itself doesn’t cause fire. In a building like Dastgeer Sahab’s a short circuit could have happened if one assumes that power supply to the building was ON. But for a short circuit to have happened in static conditions it would have taken a sudden overheating of the wires due to significant overloading. Was such overloading possible at that point of time? Did the building use any power heating?
Even as one assumes a short circuit to have happened, there are reasons to believe that there were proper circuit breakers installed in the building, which is very common for even ordinary buildings nowadays. An automatic fuse blow up makes the probability of a fire ignition very remote.
So what could have ignited the fire?
The theory of the invisible hands gains currency not out of paranoia or what some people outside Kashmir call ‘Kashmiris’ compulsive appetite for conspiracy theories.’ How do we otherwise explain the arson incident at Gund Hassibhat village, and probably even at Bandipora?
The fact is that it is hard not to observe a pattern in such incidents. These incidents leave their outcomes, which seem pointing to certain objectives. And all those outcomes harm Kashmir. Let us look at the visible and the invisible ones.
The immediate visible outcome was the disruption of normal life and suspension of development, business and commercial activities. Then there is the image and perception casualty. Kashmir’s tourism in recent years has picked up fundamentally by the favorable word of mouth. That favorable word has been influenced by a perception – the perception that any tourist can expect a fairly safe and relaxing environment in the valley.
Sadly, hundreds of tourists went home early or suspended their plans of extending their stays. So the perception was hurt, and also the image of this place being a safe one. Although this perception may soon be corrected and tourist season would remain unaffected, the loss to other business and commerce is unquantifiable.
Then there are the invisible outcomes.
Kashmiris are a matured people and despite certain sectarian connotations to these incidents, they have responded maturely. Only occasionally expressed in a collective form, they have a special sense to decipher the happenings around them. But it would not be honest to say that the sectarian fault lines having been sharpened in the valley in recent years remain unaffected. There is, in fact, an ideological strand across the ‘sects’ in the Valley that sees such incidents as a case of ‘them’ versus ‘us.’ Someone wants to sharpen this ideological diversity.
Religious and social leaders today have a responsibility to re-emphasize the spirit of the Holy Quran as done by the pious preachers who introduced Islam in Kashmir.
That spirit will make it clear that there is no room for sectarianism in Islam. An increasing number of people, cutting across races, colors and beliefs, today embrace Islam across the globe. When we listen to their motivations they tell us that they see Islam as the only religion that could promote human cohesion and peace in a world divided by self-serving interests and individual wellbeing. They tell you Islam holds the solution to the deep social and economic chaos unleashed by excessive debt and interest-based economic and development models.
If our history is anything to go by, the invisible hands may not call it a day. Government’s probes have always been viewed with suspicion and cynicism in Kashmir. A wise course for it would be to have an inquiry commission which includes people from the civil society, including credible religious figures. A probe that is transparent and inclusive will be quite useful in eroding the culture of distrust. Most importantly, it would help in knowing the invisible hands that seem bent upon hurting Kashmir economically. And, quite ominously, unleash divisiveness in its social and religious fabric.
The columnist is presently a consultant in international development covering Asia-Pacific and Africa regions
Lastupdate on : Sat, 30 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 30 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 1 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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