The horrific Pulwama incident is being played out on expected lines. Within hours Pakistan was blamed by Indian electronic media, taking cue from official sources. It was followed by Pakistani denials. Accusations and counter-accusations are continuing. It is a familiar pattern, played out in previous incidents of similar nature, a series of unfortunate happenings. Loss of precious lives, whatever their national, religious or sectarian identity is a matter of deep concern. The concerns multiply, if the loss of lives is the result of a raging conflict. Particularly so, if there are no ground facts to indicate that efforts are underway to resolve the conflict. The sheer number of lives lost in Pulwama heightened the concern; otherwise the loss of lives in the Kashmir conflict is almost a daily occurrence. The magnitude of tragedy is horrendous. It is heart-breaking to note, nevertheless a fact that people in Kashmir tune into daily news just to register the lives lost on that particular day. It is as regular an event, as watching the weather report in the rest of the world. The experience is no more nerve-wrecking, given the routine of killings on a daily basis. It numbs the senses. It is a tale of immense pain.
While sanity is the need of hour, the incident, I repeat is being played on expected lines. Whether Pakistan is involved or not, and if so, whatever its level of its complicity, it does not rule out the local factors prevailing on the overall situation. Pulwama incident, a painful episode may not be read in isolation. It is a continuation of the dance of death, unfortunately the predominant feature of Kashmir's panorama. However, it continues to be seen and projected as manifestation of cross-border terrorism. The state of denial vis-à-vis presence of local factors compounds the difficulties involved in evolving a solution. In the din of Indian accusations and Pakistan's denials, the voices emanating from Kashmir get drowned. Kashmiris do not have the means at their disposal to make their voice heard. The limitations of the print media and the total absence of electronic media are obvious limitations. Social networking sites are watched for any material, liable to be construed as incriminating. This has reduced people of Jammu and Kashmir to be mere pawns in the subcontinental power game.
Kashmiris living in the wailing vale or residing in other states of India remain in a state of siege. There is shrinkage of space to live normally or breathe freely. In the valley, frequent frisking, Cordon And Search Operations (CASO) armed encounters on almost daily basis mark the miserable state Kashmiris live in. In the Indian cities, whether it is a student or a trader engaged in routine of study or trade, harassment has become the norm. It has assumed a heightened dimension since the Pulwama incident. Given the constant demonization of Kashmiris in the undertones of some TV anchors, the poison injected in the body politic generates hatred on communal lines. It is sad indeed that a part of the state—city of Jammu saw arsonists on the prowl in sordid exhibition of communal behaviour. The failure of administration to save people of a particular community from arson is being increasingly questioned. Given the material loss and abuse on a wide scale, answers need to be provided, and administration needs to come clean on allegations of partisanship. Kashmiri employees on Durbar move asking the administration for security, with calls for safe transportation back to valley is hitherto unheard of. The sordid episode in Jammu reflected in cities across India, affected scores.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is facing internal divide, with divisional and sub-divisional narratives. Communal and ethnic differences are played up. The planned projections by vested interests are meant to construct parallel narratives to drown the voice of overwhelming majority. The majority craves for peaceful and lasting resolution of the raging conflict. It is a voice against status quo. Maintenance of status quo by questionable means translates to dispute remaining unresolved to the detriment of the people of the state. The state cannot be held hostage to the diametrically opposing views of subcontinental powers. The added element is the atomic arsenal across the divide. It has added to the woes of not only the people of Jammu and Kashmir State, but affects the people of the entire subcontinent. The burgeoning defence budgets affect poverty alleviation. In nationalistic jingoism, scores of suicidal deaths of farmers short on debt servicing are subjected to selective amnesia. It is a scenario inconsistent with claims of being world's fastest growing economy. On the other side, loaned money is needed to adjust the balance of payment, yet war preparedness is in top gear. In the midst of this melee, the unresolved conflict is taking a heavy toll of lives.
The loud war cries, the verbiage emendating from some TV studios is complicating matters in an age of instant communication. It is virtually shaping attitudes, where masses are moulded to think and act in a particular manner. It serves the interests of particular set of parties thriving on unresolved conflict. Short term gains impact adversely the windfall that might come with conflict resolution. Indo-Pak subcontinent suffers from clogged routes, the dire result of raging conflict. The clogged routes are barriers, affecting South Asian trade. Conflict resolution could provide free run across borders, making the region a trade hub of immense potential. There are gains to be made by suffering humanity and not merely by myopic TV studious working to multiply TRPs.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]