Blind rider on lame horse!

It is one thing to say, as Prof Bhat said that it takes, ‘’light of the vision’’ to take the struggle forward, and totally another thing to foresee how should the ‘’light of vision’’ illuminate the arduous path ahead.
Blind rider on lame horse!
GK Photo

Last week ended on an interesting note. Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat—a Hurriyat leader of long standing sprung a surprise taking the united resistance leadership on an alternative discourse. The professor widely known to be an ideologue of sorts chose the occasion of his book launch to strike a discordant note. The note obviously related to how the leadership is responding to the spontaneous uprising following Burhan Wani falling to the bullets of state forces. Four months have passed of protests, state imposed curfews, killings by disproportionate use of state forces, pelleted eyes, incarcerations with PSA's slammed on scores. The uprising is now in the fifth month, and the leadership a week back consulted cross section of society—the traders, the transporters, civil society activists to explore alternatives. As per media reports, no significant alternatives were forthcoming, the consensus being on continuation of protests though some suggestions were made, which the leadership promised to incorporate.

It was in this background that Prof Bhat's discordant note made headlines. Known for his cryptic remarks, his wisecracks, the professor in Persian draws his reservoir of knowledge and wit from the deep thought of the language, he has mastered. Prof Bhat's wit would however have to stand the test of times? His take, ''our leaders like a blind rider on a lame horse, don't know where to take it'' implied that he should have come up with worthwhile alternatives. The alternatives however, many in the cross section of civil society would have liked to ponder over remain in short supply. Instead, Prof Bhat's presentation was laced with linguistic hyperboles. The hyperboles need to translate into tools of effective action; otherwise, it could be taken as having a theatrical effect, and nothing beyond that.

It is one thing to say, as Prof Bhat said that it takes, ''light of the vision'' to take the struggle forward, and totally another thing to foresee how should the ''light of vision'' illuminate the arduous path ahead. Prof Bhat left it unsaid how to visualize and straighten the tortuous route in 'K' resolution that has baffled many a think-tank, not only in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, but the world over. Prof Bhat's discordant note, it seems lacked elaborate homework, much needed in the circumstances, Kashmir is placed in. And, that reminds me of a decade old meeting Hurriyat (M) had with Prime Minister—Manmohan Singh in Delhi. It was in 2006, when the leadership called on the Prime Minister, who had picked up the threads from where Vajpayee left it. While exploring avenues, Vajpayee or Manmohan Singh did not take it beyond maintaining the status quo, while offering marginal concessions on human traffic and trade on LoC.      

Hurriyat (M)'s meet with Manmohan Singh was widely report in the subcontinental media across the divide. A fellow columnist called it Manmohan Singh holding a kindergarten class, awakening the teacher in Manmohan Singh, who had in earlier years taught in some prestigious institutions.  As could be expected in such an interaction, the negotiators on either side trying to take the upper hand put the other side on the defensive. With Hurriyat (M) leadership projecting self-governance and demilitarization as the trend setters in 'K' resolution, Manmohan Singh reportedly asked them to spell it out. Taken that it could be difficult to spell it out vis-à-vis the peculiar intricacies of Kashmir dispute, given the different take of the parties to the dispute, Manmohan Singh thought that he had Hurriyat (M) leadership where he wanted it to be—on a difficult wicket, tough to bat on. As reported, the meeting ended with the teacher in Manmohan Singh asking for better preparedness.  Governance take however did get translated in Abraham Lincoln's idiom of governance of the people, by the people, and for the people, as Manmohan Singh slanted to take the upper hand.  

Given that the wily teacher in the otherwise gentle demeanour that marked Manmohan Singh took over, it needs to be stated however that leadership, of which Prof Bhat formed an integral part for long has a tough job on hand. It needs to be asked, whether a decade since the interaction with Manmohan Singh, the leadership is ready with the desired homework?  And, Prof Bhat particularly as he is academically proficient, and given his penchant to stand on high pedestal. Prof Bhat's propensity to take the high ground in borne out by his recent pronouncements; however the evasion to provide answers to questions, he has asked is as pronounced as his take. Prof Bhat's retort that freedom struggle calls for a solid strategy than "jumping into river without knowing how to swim" could be well taken. However, long back Prof Bhat did opt to jump in the river as he joined the freedom struggle, and it could be asked whether he has learned to swim across the tide, a feature of rough waters of 'K' dispute?  

It is easier said than done that mainstream and resistance leadership across the political divide should unite to press the Indian and Pakistani leadership to sit, talk and resolve Kashmir. Has Prof Bhat ever explored and worked for managing mainstream and resistance partnership in his proposed venture? If so, did he find it feasible? Prof Bhat stands to answer his questionnaire; otherwise it is bound to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

(The author is doctor in medicine, a social activist, and a senior columnist)

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