Intransigence and lack of desire to address the issue would inevitably engender a climate of unrest and uncertainty
Ever thought about the greatest danger to human life in the world, and more pertinently in India? Next to the life threatening diseases which claim the maximum number of lives all over the world, it is surely the natural disasters in the form of devastating floods and major earthquakes etc. What next! Come to think of it, a major source of death where thousands get killed in India every single day is the scourge of road accidents where India has reasons to boast as a world champion. And how about those losing their lives to terrorist activities? Quite a few no doubt, but surprisingly far fewer than those being consumed as victims of the calamities on account of the reasons described above.
This is not to say that terrorism poses a threat that is too insignificant to be taken seriously. On the contrary, it is absolutely necessary to urgently put in place measures to ensure minimum loss of lives on account of acts related to terrorism. However, what is extremely disconcerting is the realisation that whereas vast resources and full might of the state is brought to bear upon addressing issues surrounding the scourge of terrorism, no worthwhile effort is spared to highlight and address the massive loss of life and property on account of reasons enunciated above. And that is not without a reason: this lopsided emphasis on terrorism as the main challenge to the country, to the neglect of other much greater threats, presupposes the existence of a (hypothetical) enemy and to go after him to the deadliest effect! That stratagem surely delivers and delivers in a big way in India, especially at the hustings (recall the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 or of more recent vintage the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2103)! In this process, the protagonists of this strategy invent an enemy, present him as the greatest threat to the nation and rally the whole country behind to justify their efforts to go after him by seeking to isolate, persecute and finally to eliminate him lock, stock and barrel. Together with a slew of sops being given away to fleece the people including the recent promise of an outlandish 10% reservation for weaker sections among the upper castes, you have a new definition of the contemporary politics- the art of the impossible- to fool all the people of the country all the time, as opposed to the more familiar definition of politics as the ‘art of the possible’, a’la Von Bismarck!
Which is why that despite the absence of anything to show for its performance on the ground, the BJP perhaps may, just may, scrape through one more time in 2019, never mind the relatively small scale of its victory compared to 2014. And this because a relentless reign marked by hate, divisiveness and violence against certain sections of the society unfortunately pays in the land called India. Unfortunately, all this adds up to an across the board acceptance of politics of hate and divisiveness among large sections of the Indian society who seem to have no qualms about all that has gone into the making of the BJP as a force to reckon with. Its spectacular ascension to absolute political power has to be located in a long chain of diabolical games having been played by its ideologues all along their political journey beginning with the Rath Yatra of 1989 that had led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992 and the widespread communal riots that followed it, not to forget as alluded to above, the Gujarat carnage that it had engineered in 2002. These games have been part of a grand strategy to communalise the polity and reap such handsome dividends. All that goes to reveal how a large majority of the Indian voters comes across as naive, uninformed, unemancipated individuals who cannot tell the chaff from the grain. No wonder there hardly are voices being heard even from the saner and educated sections of India against acts of intolerance being witnessed in India and of mass killings that has been a regular feature in Kashmir, a carefully calibrated policy exclusively with an eye on the 2019 elections that has been underway over the past close to five years.
My wish to the contrary notwithstanding, I foresee a much darker and a deadlier spell of a rule where commodities like hate, divisiveness and blood of innocents sells, as we are witnessing and going through here in Kashmir. One can’t rule out the possibility of their proxies/minions engineering a drama of the most cataclysmic proportions being enacted in the valley in pursuit of a devious agenda involving the current policy of catch and kill as a vital component of the operation ‘all out’ which is being sold, ostensibly as a (hypothetical) victory over those being pooh-poohed as ‘antinational Kashmiris’. As was pointed out by someone in newspaper columns recently, peace in Kashmir is the short time span intervening between consecutive episodes of killings of innocents at the hands of the government forces. This past week had witnessed gunning down of young Kashmiris on four days on the trot during army operations which were carried out in Budgam, Shopian, Baramula and followed by one in the outskirts of Srinagar on Sunday, claiming as many as ten young Kashmiri boys, being described as militants by the government agencies. This has been happening in Kashmir even as one knows that never ever in recent months and years is there evidence of the security forces in Kashmir having followed the standard operating procedure by engaging themselves in a gunfight in response to a provocative action by the militants. On the contrary, the trigger happy men in uniform reveal their sheer cowardice by doing the unthinkable: laying siege around a location and killing in cold blood the hapless, non-combatant, otherwise peaceful- though arguably aggrieved rebellious young boys- who merely wish to be left to themselves for the exclusive purpose of staying away from the public glare.
While the resort to cunning and jiggery pokery as a political tool which the BJP and its ideological mentor Sangh pariwar have mastered as an art of sorts reeks of evil genius of its spin doctors, it is also redolent of an almost complete absence of conscience and not the least, of the intellect among them. How upon earth would one hope for such tactics to serve the great cause of building a ‘great nation’ that they never tire of espousing as their raison d’etre? One doesn’t come across instances involving its ideologues, leaders or spokespersons arguing with a certain degree of grace, panache and reason informing their conversations which are invariably marked by subterfuge and sophistry. Many instances exhibiting this lack of grace from its spokespersons are generally witnessed as part of their stock in trade response to those whose statements are seen to go against their brand of politics. In this madness they seem to have no use for lessons of morality and fair play where one learns the courage of conviction to stand up and speak in solidarity with those who happen to be living on the margins of the society or those who are at the receiving end of acts of high- handedness including of mob violence in the country. It is a pity that such acts of great character are rubbished as antinational and unpatriotic. In his reaction to what Naseeruddin Shah- and many of his ilk- had recently said on the climate of intolerance that has gripped the country in the past four years, this apologist of irrationality and unreasonableness called Paresh Rawal and owing allegiance to the BJP, has gone as far as to dismiss Shah’s comments as being over the top and uncalled for. What is interesting is to note what he has said in defense of his criticism of Shah: "There is no such thing as intolerance in the country, or else he (Shah) would have been targeted and harmed (read eliminated) for making such comments". That defense by PR to me qualifies as crass ignorance and moronic to the core. It amounts to saying that if, say during an accident or an attack, say nine innocent members out of a family of ten happen to have been victims of violence at the hands of their tormentors, the lone surviving member of the family has no business to bemoan the loss of other members in his family or to condemn the killers for that act. Else he would be called a traitor as he has survived the attack and is still ‘live and kicking’! This line of thinking typically bespeaks the Sangh ideology which survives exclusively on ‘othering’ of certain sections and communities of the society and betokens a contemptuous disregard for the principle of Occam’s razor which would have informed a simpler approach being adopted towards the attainment of peace and prosperity of India. This simpler approach would have entailed a willingness to identify the root cause of the problem, which in the case of Kashmir would amount to an acknowledgement of the K-issue and to tackle it head on by reaching out to those who have suffered in the process. As opposed to this, the state’s intransigence and its lack of desire to address the issue would inevitably engender a climate of unrest and uncertainty, thus providing a breeding ground for voices of dissent and dissension.
Prof. M A Sofi Department of Mathematics Kashmir University Srinagar