2016: Leaving, with a question

When a boy in the street tells you that we will return back with even more ferocity, I experience a deadening numbness.
2016: Leaving, with a question
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2016 is finally on its way out. No matter how strenuously we drag our feet, time moves on at its chosen pace. It follows its own calendar. As we are about to enter 2017,  the memories of 2016 will not be just like that of any other year. This year would be discussed for many years to come, and it'll inform our collective life in multiple ways. How many 'calenders' we had in this single calendar year, and what was the cumulative impact of the programmes  announced in each of these 'calendars'. Remember, these calendars were neither solar nor lunar. There was no holiday on Sundays, neither did it subject its programmes to the appearance of moon, as was spectacularly displayed on the day of Eid. Anyway, as 2016 is turning the last leaf, Resistance leadership has also indicated that this year's quota of protest-calendars is finally met. As indicated by the leadership it's time to introduce a new calendar – Long Term. I have no intensions of belittling the calendars, its publishers, distributors or buyers, by making a joke of it all. I know it's well beyond a joke.  I'm only trying to  come up smiling.

I don't know how to translate this urdu line: Soach Ki Galati Hadisa Hai, Soach Ka Halka -pann Jurm Hai. Getting it wrong is a mishap, relishing a wrong is a crime. Some of the responses on my last column set this line ringing in my mind. It always bemuses me, why people presume that disapproving Resistance leadership on certain counts comprises an act of collaboration. It defeats my understanding how holding a contrary opinion comes as a shot in the India's Kashmir arm. India is not here because we have multiple opinions, sometimes even colliding head on. And India will not leave if we make our opinions merge. India's presence in Kashmir is based on concrete, and her departure will also be occasioned by some other concrete. We have differed before, and will keep differing even after. I'm amazed how promptly people pronounce judgment. ' We might not doubt your integrity, but…' Where does the need to judge people arise when the matter at hand is actually an opinion. And even though a 'favourable' judgment, mere act of judging is an assault on human freedom and dignity. How ironical that the core of our collective political struggle is the same human freedom and dignity! 

A simple question raised on why the political leadership on either side of the divide finally act independent of people's individual and collective concerns, is in no way putting blame on Resistance leadership. Or undermining the Freedom struggle, and by implication strengthening India's hold on Kashmir. It's not an act of laying down a balance sheet to show who is how much responsible for the loss of life, limb and property during the 2016 uprising. The question is fundamental and cardinal. It's a question that any future political response in Kashmir will have to take head on before maturing into an effective and graceful political leadership.  The failure of the present leadership is partly because they refuse to engage with the Kashmiri Muslim society as it is. They have their own idea of how it should be, and they rest all their understanding on that. Politics is not based on presumptions, or abstract principles, it is always a manifestation of  the actually existing. Political decisions are guided by this actually existing.  

In the existing Kashmiri Muslim society it's a factual question. How could Sheikh M Abdullah decide to go with India, when everything here was closer to Pakistan? It's an enigma. For 70 long years we have been celebrating every single achievement of Pakistan so openly. A win against India, Hockey or Cricket, sends us crazy. It's not now, it's always been. It's not a particular section of people, but people of Kashmir en masse. Even a die hard NC supporter would burst crackers. Then how could the 'Father of the Nation' sell our house to a scheming stranger. Did he fail as a leader, our we failed as a people. Or we both failed in our respective ways.  Similarly, when people are the sole strength of this Resistance Leadership, why are the same people subjected to a coercive condition by this leadership. Why everything is done at the cost of Kashmiri Muslims. Why people's tragedies are received with a morbid fickleness. Why politics finally eludes us. 2016 has once again  brought focus back on the cardinal shortcomings of our politics and the society.  

What has 2016 finally left us with. Should we celebrate the people's resistance, or mourn the sufferings. Or else, take a pause, destress our minds, and revisit the entire spectrum of our collective political struggle. True, 2016 has once again affirmed that Kashmir cannot be a part of India, but we have to move beyond to see India actually go back.  That doesn't seem happening.

From 2008, it's now third major public mobilisation. Will there be a similar such mobilisation some years later!I can only listen to such comments with an unadulterated shock. When a boy in the street tells you that we will return back with even more ferocity, I experience a deadening numbness. 

2016 is coming to an end, leaving behind some perennial questions. Any resolve to confront those questions with probity, confidence, and humility. Before some  new energy bursts into open, can some people take the trouble of  hewing a new path. The old is unmistakably dying. We can either decide to go with it and die, or leave it, and live. The challenge to India comes from our life, not death. The challenge to India comes from our mind, not madness. An someone undertake the task of working on the Kashmiri Muslim Mind. That is where our future is waiting us. Freedom is finally the flourishing of mind. 

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