Of Hope, Despair and Collective Action

In the grip of frenzy and febrile chaos for the past so many days, Kashmir saw some glimmer of hope, some flicker of salvation in the united front put up by the mainstream leaders last evening. A commendable initiative it sent out a strong message that Kashmir will be defended, its identity safeguarded and its integrity protected under all circumstances. It also underscored the fact that the idea of India will only survive in Kashmir if the Idea of Kashmir is honoured, retained and upheld. Nothing would’ve sent out a more potent message to New Delhi than this compelling show of unity amongst Kashmir’s mainstream leadership – but for a major gap, a major chink in the armour – any representation on the part of the Grand Old party was conspicuously absent!

But does it really come as a surprise, an aberration – an unmet expectation? Honestly – NO. Isn’t this the traditional modus operandi of the Grand old Party, their inherent way of functioning, an everyday leaf from their political playbook – Missing in action when needed the most, in hiding wen Kashmir is calling – Always. Modern day Nero continue to fiddle as Kashmir burns. Remember the flight/desertion post 1989, the Gulmarg vacationing in 2010 and now the Delhi Sojourn in 2019. Why did the Senior Abdullah not accompany the Mainstream delegation to the Governor last night – or even appoint a representative for the same. What was the Junior Abdullah doing staying back in Delhi when the entire Kashmir was mired in fear and uncertainty? Are they really above the rest of us? Do they have no political, leave aside moral responsibility towards us? Is this their commitment towards us when faced with one of the most dire existential threats to our existence, our identity and our very way of life as we know it?

Also, what was the purpose of the Solo dash to meet the Prime Minister a day earlier. Wouldn’t a more unified delegation of the entire Mainstream – a pooling of their cumulative influence have sent  a more powerful and determined message to the Prime Minister. Wasn’t the timing wrong – a day after Dr Farooq Abdullah was questioned by the ED for his role in a massive corruption scam. Didn’t it imply a position of weakness, subservience. Could we as Kashmiri’s afford such a differential parity of power where our representatives so evidently displayed such servitude of posturing, especially at this crucial juncture of our history.  Couldn’t this brownie-point-scoring have waited. This Personal trumping the collective be avoided for the time being. Alas it’s but a repetition of History!  In desperation in 1996 New Delhi had promised the “Sky is the limit”, a time when New Delhi was feeling the crunch the Kashmiris had a powerful opportunity of extracting some concessions, some form of increased empowerment, autonomy. The need of the hour was a unified front and resistance by the collective leadership – an objective almost met but for the defection by the Grand Old party in its eagerness to fight elections and acquire power. Subsequently power it did assume but at what Kashmiri National cost? The pattern seems in play all over again today. When a powerful collective leadership was the need of the hour to unequivocally convince Delhi for a course correction, NC once again broke ranks. It once again robbed the Kashmiri nation of “Advantage Kashmir”. But will we be able to survive this bout of unquenched lust for power on behalf of the Abdullah’s, this time round? More importantly should they be allowed to get away with it?    

A legacy of structural flaws in our political system based on patronage and institutionalised meddling, exacerbated by an increasingly defeatist poll boycott, has played havoc with our everyday lives and national dignity. We have been left at the mercy of inflated egos and misplaced entitlement where we accrue no sort of accountability or answerability. Bartered like cattle since 1947 (1939 actually) at the receiving end of compromises and suppressive laws enacted by our very own – our so-called tall leader(s), this cycle of disrobing servitude needs to break. We need to empower ourselves and make ourselves be counted and strongly signal we will not be sacrificed at the altar of grotesque ambition or vulgar oligarchy. No amount of cover up will work – the lines have been drawn, You are either “With Us or against Us”. Last night has unequivocally placed each player at their respective side of the divide.  

The Grand Old party can continue enacting its historical role and character the rest of us will fight tooth and nail for our identity, our way of life and above all our coveted consciousness of Kashmiriyat.

(The author is an political commentator and works as an Independent consultant with international organisation. The views expressed are personal and have nothing to do with the institution he represents.)

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