Kashmiri's Dilemma

As the problem is complex so the mindset of a common Kashmiri


Kashmir is a contested state split between India and Pakistan. Before 1947 when the British India partitioned into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, Kashmir enjoyed a princely status with an autonomous government of her own. However, the situation turned chaotic soon, when Hari Singh signed the Document of Accession with the Dominion of India, in strict violations of the rights of the people of Kashmir. This turned out to be the genesis of a dispute between India and Pakistan in which Kashmir became the casualty. More than sixty years from then and more importantly twenty three years after the armed insurgency broke in Kashmir, the region has become one of the worst conflict zones of the world where the rights of people are threatened and violated by nuclear armed India and Pakistan. Kashmiris, as a people, attained certain characteristics which they would have loved last to imbibe. Conflicts, critics believe, do bestow many characteristics to the oppressed like split-personality traits, divided opinion etc. Also, a dilemma hangs over the people all the time, backtracking even on vital issues. Not a single person is immune to such an order.
 From a common man to a university teacher; from the head of a government to the spearheads of separatist leadership, all fall prey to such an outbreak. This was evident a day before when the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah broke down in the Assembly saying; ‘I don’t see why they fired bullets. I don’t believe the soldier who shot Tahir dead would be brought to book’ (paraphrase). Even though the Chief Minister may have said so to show his helplessness or to gain public support, yet it marks a very crucial ‘state of mind’ of the head of a government. A ‘state of mind’, where he identifies himself as a native and interestingly as a common native! There is a subtle feeling that he is not happy with himself for betraying his people many a time. He sees it very hard to ask for forgiveness once more.
A Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, as of any State of India, is the head of the government and owes his and his government’s allegiance to the constitution of India. In plain words he is a part of the ‘system’ that has been killing his fellow people in their own courtyard. However, this time his sympathies- so far hidden or dormant- lie with his people who don’t identify with the Indian State or Indians. This is a curious case of a man in power, supposed to quell any ‘antinational’ activities. He suffers from a dilemma, a crisis of identity that is so visible in his speech in the legislative Assembly.  There is something that tickles the conscience of the most powerful man in the state and jolts him into a ‘rebellion’ of sorts against the ‘system’ (“Do we hold the national flag for this”?). It is too early for the Indian nationalists to brand him as an enemy of the ‘system’, which if proved could land him in prison, just like they did with his grandfather. This rebellious character, it may be said, was actually the feature of National Conference’s tallest ever leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, who rebelled in his prime days but was ‘tamed’ quite strategically in his old age that led him to make an accord with the Union of India and broke his image for ever. The current Chief Minister has perhaps come to sorts with himself by voicing the hitherto unvoiced. In fact for the past few years, whole National Conference leadership has shown such a rebellious shade. A Mehboob Beig talks like a public intellectual and so does a Rattanpuri, though very lately. Mustafa Kamal is prone to such speech, but his consistent inconsistency does not weigh him in the same scale as the above.
Nothing can be concluded here about Omer Abdullah’s behavior but one is reminded by one’s memory of a protagonist named Magistrate in J. M. Coetzee’s novel Waiting for the Barbarians who despite being part of the Empire, sympathizes with the tribespeople that the Empire is at war with. For consorting with the enemy, the Magistrate is imprisoned, shamed but, ultimately, set free. He works again for the Empire but his thoughts undergo a severe change. He develops a distaste for history, a history that the Empire imposes on its subjects, a history that the Empire dooms itself for to live in. He just wants to live outside this history. Omar Abdullah does a Magistrate act here but is he courageous enough to live outside the history that the ‘system’ he works for imposes on its subjects, even the lost subjects? The answer, so far, is a big ‘NO’ because had he been thinking on such lines, we would have seen him resign at least and show to his people that he really is one among them, as subjugated and oppressed as them. This could have set him free from the ‘history’ of murders and probes, sins and hangings, and hardly would have he been responsible for the present, or at least of the future, killings. This could have instilled in him a streak of resistance- in solidarity with his people- and liberated him, because ‘considering oneself as belonging to a subject people is the founding insight of anti-colonial nationalism’, as Fanon puts it so beautifully. This could have narrowed, or even made obsolete, the gap between him and his fellow people. But so far there is no such liberation for him, for he declined to resign soon after breaking down. This really is a dilemma of greater complexity than is visible to the naked eye. Or is it, one wonders, again a political rhetoric, as his opposition colleagues view it?

Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Mar 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 12 Mar 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 13 Mar 2013 00:00:00 IST

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