This Strange Art of ‘Interlocution’
Stating the Obvious, Shying Away From the Real
JUNAID AZIM MATTU
New Delhi has mastered this knack of finding the most unimaginative ways to engage with and address the grievances and aspirations of Kashmiris. Summer 2010 called for an across-the-board introspection. A hundred and twenty young children were shot dead in one summer alone as the entire valley wept rivers of anguished tears. A dumbstruck government went about unleashing iron fist after iron fist as our children fell into their adolescent graves. In that atmosphere of anger, suffocation and utter remorse – a lot of questions were raised. Most of these questions went beyond traditional rhetoric and were imaginative given that a new, dynamic and thinking generation of Kashmiris had occupied the front rows of political dissent. This was the generation Delhi had to engage with this time around – their tribulations, their dreams, their angst and their sense of alienation and repression. Unfortunately, a firefighting response that turned into an overhyped measure to confront the 2010 summer uprising, has quite expectedly failed to be minutely imaginative. This, I’m sorry, is both an insult to the academic standards of interlocution as well as the gravity of the Kashmir issue.
The Group of Interlocutors’ Report on J&K – “A New Compact With The Peoples of Jammu & Kashmir” is as patronizing, as sermonizing and as ‘compacting’ as it sounds – like “compacts” signed between sailors and treasure islands in the dark ages or those ‘arranged’ between lands of mutiny and the empires in the glorious age of exploration and colonialism. The report that goes deep enough into the abysmal issue of Kashmir’s sense of political alienation to quote facebook messages, is riddled between the obvious, predictable contours of rhetoric and redundancy. The report talks ad-nauseum about J&K’s newly discovered hundred regions and its hundred thousand sub-regions (invisible to the naked Kashmiri eye, only seen through the microscope of interlocution), pioneering the demand for micro-analyzing a wronged people down to the Municipal levels to solve their more or less macro issues of resentment, trampled sentimentality and nationalism.
One of the many comical highlight’s of the ‘compact’ is the national insult delivered to the people of Kashmir by comparing the 1990 unilateral JKLF ceasefire with an ideologically confused and challenged, nauseatingly melodramatic MLA’s public meeting in Langate. The ‘compact’, although talks about the assassination of Shaheed Lone Sahab and its impact on the peace process, shies away from holding the then State government responsible for the assassination by, as was done in the case of Shaheed Mirwaiz Farooq Sahib, choosing to ignore the security threat to these leaders.
The ‘compact’ threatens to get courageous only to settle for cowardly balancing acts. While talking of the resolution documents of the twin traditional mainstream parties – NC and PDP, the report for a change acknowledges ‘Achievable Nationhood’. ‘Achievable Nationhood was penned down almost a year and a half before PDP’s ‘Self Rule’ document. Yet the compact is keen to ascribe cross LOC dimensions of a solution to the Self Rule document. It is disdainfully biased in projecting the ideas of their own men in Kashmir as the real ideas.
The compact suggests that the youth of Kashmir need avenues to channelize their dreams and have been devoid of opportunities to grow and prosper in a conducive atmosphere. For instance, while the report speaks of the Kashmir Premiere League and the need for more of the same, it conveniently escapes the courage to speak of the top-level corruption at the J&K Cricket Association that has been lead by Dr. Farooq Abdullah since the beginning of time. An association flooded by funds. An association that has failed to put one single Kashmiri player on the national cricketing circuit. This in a State that eats, sleeps and breathes cricket.
In speaking of the Economic aspect of the issue, the report does suggest the vast infrastructural and economic deficiencies of the State and even goes on to point out that funds allocated under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan in 2004 for instance have remained more or less unutilized. In the same vein, the report also agrees that the State is neck-deep in bureaucratic inaction, corruption and inefficiency as it speaks of hurdles in the way of suggested CBMs and remedial policies. The report however, again, fails to point blame and explain how political patronage has been extended for such blanket malfeasance.
While the report finds that the State is swarmed with political inaction both within its own polity and in the way the peace-process has been interrupted so frequently, it fails to identify the allergens that keep Kashmiris at a distance from reconciliation and dialogue. While the history of rigged elections and cosmetic posturing has contributed to the cynicism in Kashmir, the role played by our twin traditional mainstream parties in keeping Kashmir isolated, misgoverned and angry needs to be studied with more courage and conviction.
The fragmentation of the State in the narrative of the report is not only unfortunate but highly mischievous. While the interlocutors were pressed into service in the aftermath of the Summer Agitation that engulfed the Kashmir Valley and to interlocute mainly with the Kashmiri people, the report has gone out of its way to dilute the focus by taking engineered care to speak of regions and sub-regions. The report puts equal, if not more stress, on the inter-regional dynamics of the State of Jammu & Kashmir as it does on the simmering alienation, cynicism and political restlessness in Kashmir. That undertone is cowardly and falls in the same trap of ambiguity as other past processes of engaging with Kashmiris.
The report fails to satisfy even the loyal Indian constituency within Kashmir. One wonders how it is going to satisfy the separatists. The compact comes across as a pre approved script. And the interlocutors come across as bad window dressers.
(Junaid Azim Mattu is the Srinagar District President of Peoples’ Conference. Ideas expressed are personal. Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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