This is the time to decide lest we lose more generations
Kashmir has again become the hotbed of theories, conspiracies and prophesies. But then again, why shouldn’t it? It has a history of enduring betrayals and back stabbing. Any new entry into politics and the constant violence has turned us into a frenzy-prone population and wesuspect every action of every human being that holds even the slightest sway over us.
In the past, we have been fed with the fairy talesthat took us to "skies of freedom" and have since been waiting for Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat to transcend upon us in order to heal us from our bruised minds and souls. The fairiesare still rambling around but the "ray of humanity" never blinked over the valley. Instead, it provided an open ground to security agencies to test its ammunition on young heads, chests and eyes. That is why any Kashmiri, prominent or ordinary, illiterate or educated, militant or non-violent,decides to enter the " political battlefield" with gun or without gun, the Kashmiri nation becomespanicky and hopeful at the same time thatsomebody has a nerve of a Messiah to save our fourth generation from being wiped off the face of earth under the pretext of encounters, ISIS or terrorism to which the international community has also become "partner in crime" so far.
Recently, when an IAS topper after resigning from a lucrative job announces his wish to join mainstream politics so that he can make his voice heard in the parliament where until now all voices sent from Kashmir have proved useless including the one whom we thought earlier can plead the Kashmir case the same way he been pleading and winning important cases in the Supreme Court, People became frantic with emotions and put forth their opinions in the open to influence his future action. (We didn’t even see our prominent lawyer in Parliament just for the sake of attendance, not to talk of raising Kashmir issue).
Let us admit it that we are a very gullible lot and believe everything we are being told. I having spent my whole life in journalism and having worked in the most reputed organization the BBC for twenty five years proved more gullible when I believed that a new political party had emerged as a strong platform to reclaim Kashmir’s past and had vowed to bring some sort of relief to people who have been crushed in all spheres of life. I too dreamt of peace with dignity and freedom to walk from home to Lal Chowk without getting frisked or humiliated. My dream crumbled the day I entered the fray because from our institutions to policies to even transfer of a constable is being done remotely. Until now, our political leadership hasn’t succeeded in bringing in a Chief secretary or the chief of police from the Valley. The case is not different in "Azad Kashmir" either.
In contrast, the bureaucracy which is mostly "parachuted" is more powerful and more stronger in Jammu and Kashmir who run the show and live like Maharaja. Leaving journalism for politics was my suicide and leaving bureaucracy for politics might be a double murder. Becoming aparliamentarian for representing Kashmir is a big joke and sorry I don’t buy it.
Even the highly articulate and firebrandparliamentarian, Shamim Ahmed Shamim found it frustrating.
From Sheikh Abdullah to Geelani to Salahuddin, all at some stage accepted the Indian constitution, fought elections and believed they could bring change in the Kashmir situation. Though, Salahuddin didn’t win the election but tried to become part of it during 1987 elections and was not even given little space for his thoughts, instead he was pushed to armed struggle to fight for his political rights. Kashmiris reposed faith inIndia every time, accepted it for its secular credentials which have now become history but India never accepted Kashmir with open mind and heart. It betrayed, stabbed and destroyed our four generations to which the growth of our graveyards is a witness to our miseries. So, the problem lies with India to which Arundhati rightly says, "India needs freedom from Kashmir".
The Indian leadership from Congress to BJP has humiliated Kashmir and snatched everything that was guaranteed by its constitution at the time of accession, thus leaving no option for Kashmir but to shun its farcical elections. Now our identity, our history and our constitution has become the main agenda for its leadership to get rid of and reduce us to non citizens in our own land. We can ask ourselves, why did our leaders concede too much or why did they fail in maintaining the tenets of accord against which they acceded? We have no answers because our own leadership has neverbeen truthful to our people.
Recently, I asked one of the journalists in UP why is Mayawati and Akhlesh taking so long to formthe pre- poll alliance? His reply was "Mayawati fears CBI cases will be lodged in case of alliance with non BJP. Like NIA is playing havoc with some politicians in India". This is how sometimes leadership also gets trapped in the dangerous web.
Any experiment or aspiration to show that "I can be different" is just another dream which might or might not come true but it will be painful to bearone more martyr at the altar of changing "Indian leadership".
My suggestion to all mainstream to separatists to ordinary citizens is that there are only two options left for us in Jammu and Kashmir. All of us including leaders, workers, masses and youth need to come together and start a discourse among ourselves with conviction and authority about what we really want. Do we want Azadi from India and merge with Pakistan or do we want Azadi from India and Pakistan? Or should we accept status quo in both parts of Kashmir like participating in elections, selections, accepting parachute leadership and move on demanding equal rights with other citizens, ensure human rights by creating our own institutions. So far, our political parties have taught us to sit on the fence (hor te yor te) and demand Kashmir resolution through elections, coalitions and machinations.The irony is most people believe them but the truth is that the mainstream has no power to resolve the Kashmir issue or play any role in bringing the two countries together.
Time has come for our intellectuals to come forward and make people understand that you cannot vote and demand azadi at the same time.Eighty percent voting and million Azadi march are too incompatible. Choose either one of the two options but be united in one option whatever it may be. Don’t waste another seventy years in waiting for a Messiah to come and educate our masses about our options. If India is against the referendum or Pakistan has some other policy, let us leave them for the time being and do our own exercise. Whatever the decision of the majority is should be accepted and make both the countries and the international community to come forward to help us in resolving this issue. The creation of new mainstream or pushing young boys towards deathtraps are well planned ploys to play with the emotions of gullible people who trust blindfolded the "chosen ones". These machinations are consuming our younger generations, our future and our destiny. Let us put a stop to it and rise up as one united people with one option and work to make it happen. The decision is ultimately yours.
(The writer is an ex editor of BBC and Penguin author.)