It was a heinous act of coping out by those who called the meeting, and those who attended it. We have all turned into liars in our own ways. Leaders wanted to hear it from others, and others carried a strong wish to hear it from the leaders. Each remained tightlipped; Prisoners' Dilemma. Imagine a meeting called by a group of people with their eyes shut, waiting to hear from the invited participants about how it looked outside. But before entering the hall each one of the participants firmly shuts his pair of eyes. One by one they make speeches and thunderously talk about the darkness around. Finally the leadership takes it as an expression of consensus on darkness. The statement issued after the meeting was nothing but a sad story of how all of us are scared of the light outside. This way also, it's a year of blinded eyes.
Wish, we had a camera that captured minds! Each individual, including the 'leaders', could be seen rolling shutters up, driving vehicles, going to offices, opening schools, and getting back to every single detail of daily chore. But all are seen fulminating about having the shutters down, vehicles off roads, schools closed, and the routine of life suspended. We have become a split-nation. One deep well of hypocrisy waters all our minds. Here is a fable that explains what we have turned into.
A man, after years of hard work and intelligent endeavour, finally hits the mark. He manufactures a camera that photographs minds. Jubilant over this wondrous invention, he travels to a Muslim country; a believing community. He talks to a few people about his invention, and his intention of profiling the minds of the people. Hearing him, a man from among the believers angrily shouts at him; "don't you know that for a believer God is at the centre of the mind; and do you want to tell us that you can take a picture of God. Beware to commit such blasphemy. You are going to pay with your head." Ruing his luck to have visited a believing community for testing his master invention, he prepares to pack off. In that sad moment he chances upon an old man, gentle and cordial. He unburdens himself by talking to him about the predicament. The man listens him very patiently, and then responds in an unexpectedly encouraging way. "There is nothing wrong in capturing the image of what sits at the core of our minds. Tomorrow you go out, shoot as many people as you can. Don't worry about the consequences, for I'm here to handle the aftermath." The man sounded so reassuring that the inventor dusted off all his fears, and went out in the morning clicking as many pictures as he could. Later in the day, he enters his dark room to develop the film. There was no God, but man. Each mind looked like the person himself. Amazed, he went to the old pious man in the morning, and revealed the results. The old man wasn't surprised a bit. After a while he raised his head, and started talking tenderly. "It's one thing to say that God is at the centre of my mind, it's another to have Him actually there. Having experienced my people well, I know each one of them worships his own material self. God is what they wear on their sleeves. Go and enjoy working on your invention; God bless you."
But we have reached a pass where even God would least want to bless us. Mixing lack-of-candour into absence-of-judgment, a deadly brew has completely stupefied us. One shudders thinking about what is in store for us. Once again one can only think of earnestly arguing with the Joint Resistance Leadership, passionately talking to the trade bodies, humbly speaking to the religious organisations, and honestly urging the larger civil society to help create an atmosphere where each one of us can speak his heart out. And then please upgrade your responses. Thinking is no crime, and wisdom is no misdeed. As the Joint Resistance Leadership, and as heads of various organisations and associations, you cannot so easily escape responsibility. You cannot be so jealously guarding your public image of being 'committed-hardcore-resolute freedom lovers', at the expense of the people for whom you claim to be fighting this battle for independence. A Personal Safety Act! Given the kind of courage Geelani Sahab has displayed on many occasions, one would still expect him to finally act as a fearless and honest person. He has done it when he spoke to a gathering in South Kashmir in those heady days of 1990 that Azadi is not a matter of a day or two. Just afterwards he had to face some charged up youth, but he was candid enough to tell the truth. That is what makes a leader a leader, and a boy out there only a boy out there. Right now, Geelani, along with Mirwaiz and Malik, are duty bound to tell truth to people. Tell them that Azadi is not a matter of some months strike. Tell them that this phase of popular protest is just another link in the long chain of people's struggle for freedom. Tell truth fearlessly and justify yourself as the leader of a movement. It doesn't suit you to suspend your thinking, and terminate your courage just because PDP will present it its own way, or some boys would fiercely react, or some fringe would give a death stare. If you really took a decision in 2010 and gave people a way out, you need to be hailed for that, not condemned. There are people who notice you when you act contrary to popular perception, but in the interest of the people at large. A leader is like a friend, and a friend is concerned about what his friend actually needs, not what he apparently asks for. An act of friendship, an act of leadership is what we are all looking for.