What killed Shuja'at!

Nuanced analysis, deep information, and a complex narrative that reads like a thriller may suit a distant observer, but for us in Kashmir this is time to look inwards. Resistance leaders, Religious organisations, media houses, civil society formations, and individual minds need to go straight to the question that confronts us. Why do we ascribe motives, paste labels, and pave the way to graveyard. We all do it, and we are all to share the blame. The challenger on the other-side has a field day, knowing well our fault-lines. Before we all turn into walking graves, can we calm down, open our min

Mehmood ur Rashid
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jun 22 2018 9:57PM | Updated Date: Jun 22 2018 9:57PM
What killed Shuja'at!File Photo

Last week we returned Shuja'at to dust. Dust we are, and to dust we all return. But he left behind some hard questions for the Kashmir's Muslim Society, of which he was a conscious member. Now it's not about him, it is about us. He earned his calm through his own blood. But for us, one can hear the sinister squeaking of the new blood-gates. 

Shja'at, a life long reporter,  posed this question to all of us on his last journey on board a coffin. It's suicidal to duck, criminal to deflect, and evil to discourage asking the question. A particular understanding of religion, politics, and the relation between the two, has created a sanctified convenience that disallows asking the question. A sense of responsibility, and an unconditional concern for the people, beyond difference and agreement, compels to raise it once again. Shujaat's life was in no way special. The lives we lose every day to this monster of  violence are equally sacred. For the sake of all these lives, this question.

The sadness and shock are still in the air. The mourning lingers, and grief refuses to go away. But this sadness will not last for ever. Eventually routines returns. Even this urge to understand who assassinated Shuja'at will fade away. The file will gather dust, and the respective sides will resort to political-duelling, as and when required. India will leave nothing undone to fix Pakistan, and the militant groups, on this assassination. They already started the campaign by owning Shujaa't through statements by political biggies, and columns by a chosen lot of 'Kashmir experts'. India wants to create its own martyrs in Kashmir in the likes of Shujaa't and we give them ample room to do so. None in Kashmir is India's own. Not to speak of a common man, even those who obsequiously display their loyalties are finally outsiders. But in our anger, we push people over to the other side. That's tragic for us, celebratory for the oppressor. 

Who are these unknown gunmen,  we now know for three decades.  For a person living in Kashmir the 'known' and the 'unknown' have got dangerously mixed up. In many earlier cases while we know who the 'unknown' was, in many others we may finally find ourselves too simplistic about our knowledge of the 'unknown'.  In this conflict zone, first and last managed by a massive structure of violence owned by the deep state, and executed by a labyrinthine of agencies, the art of occupying both sides of the battle field is coming to perfection. Who pulled the trigger, and who mastered the plot may well belong to two different sides of the battleground, but the game belongs to the superior violence. Years later, who knows, how many shocking revelations would dawn on the world. But all this pertains to who killed Shuja'at. Our question is, what killed Shuja'at. It's here that we are all guilty. Why do we react violently whenever this question is raised.  A general way of putting it is that ours is a case of closed mind. 

To make my point, I'm reminded of a workshop. At the workshop we had a session with a diplomat, who was also a conflict practitioner. As a matter of procedure, we were told by the organisers not to drag him to Kashmir conflict. But surprisingly the man began his talk with the Kashmir conflict, and spoke almost only about Kashmir. He seemed very concerned about us, and this made him do some harsh talk. One of his comments about Kashmir vexed me. I couldn't resist taking him on that just after he finished. He called us tribals, in an overtly negative way. “But we are not”, I responded with a twitch of ire. I thought the man was blissfully ignorant about the profile of Kashmiri population. But he was not. Very calmly he explained himself. 

You don't know your place in the world, and you have shut your eyes. You think that yours is an international issue, and the world really minds. In this system of global politics, states are least bothered about such things, unless you make it important for them. And you must learn that art of reaching out to the world, and presenting this conflict in ways that the world finds a merit in focussing on it. That you have been wronged, hardly makes any friends in this world.  You enhance you capacities to understand, and  articulate the case.  If you want Kashmir conflict solved in the simplistic way as you put it, then we need a WW III. 

The 'tribal' in us refuses to look beyond the long held presumptions. This smallness of mind has generated savagery in us. As closed minds, and dead hearts, we contribute to a gaping violence. In the process we kill our children, destroy our families, devastate our society, ruin our politics, ravage our faith, and annihilate our future. Shuja'at was just another victim of this nihilism, fed on a religio-political narrative. Our side of assassin is ensconced in this narrative, and a human conduct built over this narrative. As a positive contribution to our politics, and to make freedom really possible, can we subject this narrative to a revision, while keeping an unflinching eye on the oppressor who wants to divide us at micro level.  

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