In response to Ajaz-ul-Haque''s Write Hand Column “Make it Big”
This is in response to Mr. Ajaz ul Haque’s weekly column entitled “Make it Big” in which he endorses Shah Faesal’s decision of joining of mainstream politics. The author is known for his precise, bold and well-articulated pieces. Some consider him the conscience keeper of the community. This time, however, he seems to defend a mainstream political position and throws all standards of journalistic neutrality to winds. He is siding with New Delhi’s sponsored mainstream to which we so far have seen him being a strong abhorrent, to say the least.
The author starts his column by mentioning Harsh Mandar whom he calls an inspirational-substance who resigned in protest against 2002 Gujarat riots. Appreciating Shah Faesal for resigning from his services is good but endorsing and justifying his joining mainstream is disastrously dangerous.
The comparison made by the author is irrelevant, out-of-context and non-reflective of basis of politics. Harish Mander and Shah Faesal certainly belong to the same school but not to the same class. Harsh belongs to the class of human rights activists whose politics springs from an intrinsic values in human dignity and the rights of the underprivileged. Shah Faesal is a careerist who wants to effect change in mainstream politics without ever mustering courage to speak against the state excesses. Both are situated in different political settings. One is merely addressing to a condition of exploitative policies of state that lead to marginalization and social exclusion. Other is principally addressing the question of good governance as a solution when he is fully conscious of the popular sentiment which rejects the basic legitimacy of India over the state. Equating the two would be a grave injustice with both, as elevating ‘riots’ to the level of long pending political dispute and thus by reducing political dispute merely to human rights violations.
The author will be reluctant to compare the former bureaucrat with Mandar in case he decides to join NC. The rest is fine. As if all bloodshed happened in the state due to lack of conscientious politicians. He calls NC a party responsible for bloodshed and ignores to mention other mainstream political formations such as PDP and Congress which have no less share in the Kashmir tragedy. A sane reader wonders how Ajaz ul Haque is trying to reduce Faesal’s plunge into mainstream with that of providing a better alternative to of NC? Moreover, while pinning his hopes on mainstream politics the author fails to put them to task for their role in political violence which has killed tens of thousands since 1947.
When on earth a politician did unveil a civil movement that aims to protect the individuals and groups against the onslaught of state. In Gramscian sense, a state controls through two agencies: coercive apparatus and ideological apparatus. Coercion is particularly visible in its gory sense; it takes the form of theatre of death performed by uniformed ‘security’ forces on daily basis. Ideological apparatus is directed towards seeking legitimization of the coercive institutions and practices. This task is inter alia performed by civil society groups.
Politics is everybody’s right and nobody can rob off anyone from the right of doing politics, but which type of politics? The one which represents the sentiments of people or the one which doesn’t? And when did New Delhi allow the growth and development of healthy and strong political institutions in Kashmir? It were not individual acts of corruption which damaged the institutions of the state. It was rather the deliberate sabotage of institutions due to constant interferences of the Union government which reduced Sheikh Abdullah from a crouching tiger to a petty rat. Can New Delhi allow Shah Faesal to grow beyond a faithful servant of Delhi and stay relevant? Will he deliver governance that empowers people and gives them immunity against state repression? Ajaz ul Haque preferred to ignore these questions.
The author at the end calls the unfilled vacuum to be filled by the educated and enlightened people like Shah Faisal. By this, heis exhorting the educated youth to get engaged in mainstream politics at the cost of ignoring the sacrifices of tens of thousands of people made since long. He misses the basic point that even before Shah Faesal the political vacuum was filled by the ‘enlightened and educated people’ like Sheikh Abdullah, Mufti Sayed, Omar Abdullah, Sajad Lone et al. When they could not bring any positive change in the political discourse of Kashmir dispute, how come this ex-IAS officer would do it given the lack of India’s commitment to a genuine change in Kashmir? Hope our esteemed writer Ajaz ul Haque asks these questions someday as well.
Mohammad Ashraf Khwaja is a Doctoral Fellow and Peerzada Mahboob ul Haq is a final year honors student at Aligarh Muslim University.