'Some hard thinking is required. Each one of us has to do it.' In fact, a long and hard thinking has become much more necessary in the situation as has been obtaining in the state during the past one and half year than it might have been at some other time in our recent history.
For the past couple of months, after the Hindutva, (courtesy PDP) gained entry into the corridors of power the state is caught up in a whirlpool of 'hegemonic discourses'. On daily basis, under a well thought out strategy one or other the Hindutva outfit or think tank brings one or other rancorous or unwelcome 'discourse' into the public domain. Or, initiates moves targeted at change the constitutional, political status of the state and hurting the popular sentiment.
In 2014, its top leadership started its election campaign by reviving the memories of the Maharajas rule in the state (1846-1947). When despite it having been overwhelmingly Muslim majority state (80 percent Muslims and 20 percent other faiths) was declared a Hindu state. A state to quote Mridu Rai, 'where Ranbir Singh as heir apparent had silted a woman's tongue for beating a cow which had torn some clothes which she had hung out to dry.' (Hindu Ruler Muslim Subjects p 101). Making its agenda about changing demography of the state obvious, it had targeted Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that stands as testimony that state had conditionally acceded to India. How this mechanism was a just a mechanism for governing the state was discussed debated and discussed by many experts in this newspaper.
Since, the installation of the coalition government, it is no secret how one after another move is initiated for changing demography of the State. Eighty eight year old, the State Subject law introduced during the time of Maharaja Hari Singh and adopted by the State Constituent Assembly and incorporated in the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir with all its sanctity: "In this section the expression 'State Subject of Class I or of Class II' shall have the same meaning as in the State Notification No I-L/84 dated 20 April 1927, read with State Notification No 13/L dated 27 June 1932" has been the prime target. The issuance of the State Subject Certificates in school was one such hideous move followed by seeking annulment of Article 35 A, that recognizing the law as sacrosanct in the Constitution of India. Then moves like providing citizenship to refugees from the West Pakistan, planning setting of colonies for ex-army men who have served in the state etc.
Lately, another discourse, 'trifurcation of the State on the basis of religion has been conjured.' Such a discourse obviously, which has been mooted in the past as resolution of the Kashmir dispute even by UN envoys like Sir Own Dixon could not have been brought into the public domain at a time, when New Delhi is not ready to talk about finding a solution of Kashmir or engaging with Pakistan for finding an amicable settlement of the dispute without a reason.
Should the leadership and intelligentsia get sucked into these 'hegemonic discourses? Devote their energies in deconstructing them or work for drowning them to abysmal depths by strengthening the historical "people's narrative". These question cropped up in my mind at a recent seminar on the State Subject Law and Article 35, when students and youth came up with a barrage of questions for the intelligentsia and the leadership. The seminar was organized for student and youth at Srinagar by KCSDS a civil society group.
Ostensibly, the younger generation was highly worked up but deep down it was an expression of their worry about the future of the 67 year old political movement, which they believe presently is rudderless and is caught up in the whirl pool of 'dominant discourses'. These youth, as one could make out from their queries strongly believed that the state had into entered most critical phase of its history- where the leadership and the intelligentsia need to do some thinking to save from sinking into wilderness.
Historically, at most crucial junctures, we have never done a hard and long thinking- neither at people's level nor neither at the level of leaders. Instead, we have either allowed our self to be left at the mercy of winds sweeping across the subcontinent or willingly drowned ourselves in the hegemonic discourse. Our contemporary history in this regard offers number of instance, where instead of creating our own discourse or strengthening our narrative, general masses for not being informed and leadership either for their ineptitude or out of arrogance torpedoed their own political movement.
One of the glaring example is of 1947. In August 1947, the Muslim Conference and the National Conference was in prison. In September, the National Conference leadership was released from jails and the Muslim Conference continued to be incarcerated. The political scenario in the sub-continent during their imprisonment had undergone a sea of change. Two new dominions of India and Pakistan had appeared on the world map. In the changed political scenario in the region SMA instead of doing some hard thinking for drafting his own narrative willingly worked against the interest of his people and subscribed and strengthened the hegemonic discourse. Surprisingly, he was not ready even to confab with his own lieutenants to discuss how best freedom of people of the state could be secured. Molvi Syed, General Secretary of his party at a public meeting told him in the changed political situation, instead of strengthening the discourse of the Congress, we must do some honest thinking and safeguard the interest of our people. Had, the NC leader instead getting sucked into the Congress discourse, strengthened the narrative for which people had offered sacrifices from July 1931, not only our history even the history of South Asian region would have been different.
Presently we are passing through the most difficult phase that again calls for hard and long thinking.