Master Ahsan Dar

Hiding in the past, or searching for the future!



This column is not in praise of a person who we know as one of the most formidable militant commanders of yesteryears. Neither is it a vilification of the ‘most dreaded terrorist’. It is not about the person at all. Nevertheless, Muhammed Ahsan Dar makes the context, and to a large extent, the content of the idea to be taken up here. Where is the future in search of which people like Master Ahsan Dar set out for an arduous journey in 1980s?
Last week the news came that Master Ahsan Dar was released from jail, and it makes this an opportune moment to take up the question. This man, among many others, was not an adventitious entry into armed movement. He was part of a larger political awakening that influenced the young minds during 1970s and 1980s. Like many others who pioneered this movement people knew him as a militant commander, forgetting that his initiation into arms was the result of a political training he received from socio-political forces like Jamat-e- Islami. In fact after the Plebiscite Front was lost into 1975 Accord, whole lot of political forces spanned into the length and breadth of Kashmir - People’s League, Muslim Students League, Mahaz-e-Azadi, and of course Jamat-e-Islami. Unfortunately the speed with which the armed movement took over Kashmir pushed this political context into abysmal oblivion. The tragic part of it is that the armed movement turned on the same political forces that produced it. And this happened in two ways – by way of dissociation and association. First, the aura and élan associated with the armed movement in 1990s made our commanders disrespectful, in fact hostile, towards anything political.  It made even a party like Jamat-e-Islami afraid of being a likely target of the unfolding forces. Here the second route to disaster was thrown open. And, in the eyes of people, who are least aware of the details of what went between Jama’t leadership and the militant forces under Jama’t influence, Master Ahsan is the man who declared this route open. Remember when he announced Hizb-ul-Mujahideen as the military wing (Fauji Bazoo) of Jamat-e-Islami; what followed, we all know. The failure of the armed movement to engage with the political led to multiple failures. Where we stand now is the result of those multiple failures.
People like Master Ahsan Dar share those multiple failures; part victim, part guilty. One doesn’t know what these people should do, or would finally end up doing, after they have passed through much – massive public following, indescribable hardships, haunting mistrust, sudden loss of prestige, long years in jail, and now an uncertain future.  One wouldn’t even dare to suggest what they ought to do now. They have seen what others even don’t know. All the accumulated experience must have permeated into their personalities. There is a likelihood that such people withdraw from the society and recoil into themselves. That way, may be, they want to live a life of respectful oblivion. That is a personal choice and this society must grant it respectfully to them. Even the state that they fought against needs to acknowledge their right to live as respectful individuals. The act of taking up the arms was not essentially criminal, but political.
But there is a second choice, and many up till now have opted for that. Somehow capitalize on the past standing and find a berth in some separatist political party, or may be launch one’s own. None can stop them from doing so, but in this case (may be with some exception) we have seen two things becoming a casualty. First, the respect of the person who once enjoyed a mystique, and second, the estimation of the armed movement in the eyes of the people.
Is there any other way – meaningful, respectful, and futuristic – for such people; something that won’t make them fall from mythical heroes to inconsequential trifles. This largely depends on how such people orient their minds. Master Ahsan Dar has already expressed his intent to write a book; fine. If it is a personal act of narrating the details of his life as a militant commander people might love to read it. A firsthand account offering a peep into the cervices and recesses of the armed movement must be an interesting thing. But if writing the book is a way to re-engage with the society for which he once was like a mythical hero, then this man has to sit back for some time, read a lot, talk to people around, and reflect on the past with all the seriousness that he can summon to his aid. People like Eqbal Ahmed, if he hasn’t already read him, can be a great help in understanding the past and wrestling with the future. If in the process he could rediscover the original anxiety that made him undertake the long journey starting 1980s, he can worm his way through the failures of the past and the possibilities of the future. The “seeming absence of viable alternatives” will definitely haunt all such people, but then there is always a future, for all, everywhere, and in all circumstances.
May be we have lost the future somewhere in the past, way back when armed movement was yet to begin. Master Ahsan Dar belongs to that past, and a dispassionate understanding of that past can launch all such people into a meaningful future. Joining politics hastily would only add to the long trail of disappointment. Master has a choice; becoming part of a renewed, humble thinking that can contribute to the formulation of a political movement in future; and be faithful to his past. Else join the vulgarized political pastime, keep himself alive through newspaper statements, and bring ridicule to his person and the past. 

Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 3 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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