And I saw Sheikh Sahab standing at a butcher’s shop in our Mohalla
The hoopoes, thrushes, doves and cuckoos were back romping along with starlings and sparrows on green lawns embellished with white daisies. The Mo-e-Muqaddas movement born during freezing winter days with a bang, had died with a whimper.
Now no big processions passed through the streets in our locality. The black flags hoisted on roof tops had been pulled down and colour of banners reading; Sazish Ko Naga Karoo and ‘Asli-Mujram Ko Pash Karoo’ had faded, leaving behind hardly readable traces of these slogans. That were frenziedly raised by tens of thousands for months. My pals and me, were back to the routine, going to school in the morning and after school to the playground. And out of fun, we sometimes raised these slogans on the playground or on returning from home from the Makhdoom grounds.
In this weird political silence that had descended on our part of city after boisterous months, ‘liberalism’- a sugar-coated word had been so beautifully woven by spin doctors in the ‘dominant discourse’ that everyone around had started looking at as a panacea. My uncle, his childhood friend Ghulam Qadir had started looking at it as cure-all. And they also had started believing, now there will be no snoopers eavesdropping on the backside of the house, to report about any political discussions going on inside the home. Now Kun’trih-pandah 29/15, as the informers were nicknamed would not be gluing their ears to the windows to monitor, if the Radio sets were not tuned to 60.3 shortwave, and if inmates were not listening to Zarab-e-Kalam and Manet Dab, those seditious programs from Radio Station at Trarkhel on the other side. The political hoodlums will no more snatch from gentlemen of their valuables and humiliate them publicly.
Like other downtown boys, born and brought up, in ward-4, epicenter of the resistance movement, during the Mo-e-Muqaddas Tahreek, I had learnt a lot of political vocabulary and understood connotations of words like Rai Shumari, Haq e Khud Iradiat, Salamati Council and lot many. As my friend Dr. Wahid rightly puts it, if children of nineties are called as ‘children of conflict’, our generation was children of Mo-e-Muqaddas Tahreek – this movement introduced afresh a whole generation to Kashmir problem.
Nonetheless, I did not understand the connotation of the newly introduced word ‘naram-ravi policy’ (liberalism) that dominated newspaper headlines. Those days the Plebiscite Front also published weeklies in Urdu Mahaz and in English Front, and some smaller pro Haq e Khud Iradiat parties also published their official organs and only these papers did not make mention of this new policy of the government. One day, I asked my uncle meaning of this new phrase, and its impact. My uncle was no admirer of Sheikh Sahib and often blamed him of having committed the ‘original sin”. In his long explanation of the phrase he told me very soon you will see Sheikh Sahib – the then towering leader buying his grocery from Zaina Kadal and mutton from Nowhatta. I did not understand political import of the word but took my uncle’s explanation in literal sense. It was perhaps, next day, I saw Sheikh Sahib’s Ambassador Car JKB 8282, parked in front of a knife grinder’s shop in our Mohalla. And saw him standing in front of a butcher’s shop in our Mohalla buying mutton. I rushed back home, informed my uncle that I saw Sheikh Sahib buying meat from the butcher of our Mohalla…
Nonetheless, the myth of liberalism exploded shortly; how, it makes an interesting story….