Reading Shujaat……

…….between the redlines
Reading Shujaat……
File Photo of Shujaat Bukhari

Reading books is a pleasure, but reading this book was apain. I would have loved to review it in presence of the author. I wish I couldswing back the pendulum of time a year back. The sheer feeling of reading afriend who is no more stung me all along while going through the book.KASHMIR'S THIN REDLINES.

The book presents the author in view of the situation thatfaces Kashmir.  Shujaat was a grassrootsjournalist. His writings – as documented in this book – are a neat mix ofreportage, analysis and opinion where a reporter Shujaat, an analyst Shujaatand an opinion-maker Shujaat appear by turns.

Shujaat wrestled with a subject that is inherentlyexplosive. Negotiating Kashmir is like diffusing a landmine lest it explode inyour face.  It takes wisdom to comprehendthe nuance, deal with the risk, put through the message in a manner that issafe and yet significant.

The most difficult thing to do while writing about Kashmiris what we call balance. I don't mean balancing truth with lies. Truth is anauto-balancing device, we need not force any balance on it. I mean balancingone truth with the other. Seeing (what they call) fifty shades of grey betweenall white and all black.  Balance is thefeature of Shujaat's writings.

Shujaat was a no-nonsense man and his no-nonsense approachis reflected through his writings as well. Take the immediate post-Burhanfallout in 2016. He didn't side with the propagandists of Delhi-based media whohave degraded the institution of journalism into something worse than amockery, turned a newsroom into a TRP-churning theatre of the absurd, andconverted a meaningful talk into the dialogue of the deaf. But he didn'tsupport the resistance-camp back home who wanted to carry the battle to its(what they call) logical conclusion no matter we heap graveyards upongraveyards. Shujaat presented a sane view.

Our tragedy is that we have lost the sense of the tragic.The thin line between our sane and insane self is vanishing fast. Our cherishedideals stand polluted and politicized. We live in a wasteland where life isdeath, death is life. Our dreams have become our disguised nightmares.  We have turned collective sadists throttlingeach other for nourishing an independent thinking. Shujaat's murder signifiesthe murder of our souls, murder of our collective sanity.

Peace has become the reflection of a murky politics inKashmir. Peace is a redline you cross at your own risk. Shujaat's attempt wasto restore the slogan of peace the spirit of peace. To see the things as theyare, not as we wish them to be. That is what sanity demands and that is what hestood for.  

He had a smart understanding of the situation. He knew thedanger it's fraught with.  Kashmir is asimple issue complicated by the subsequent politics done in the name of Kashmirissue. A plain story of might is right blurred by some sophisticated academic,historic and diplomatic theories. Redlines are already thin, but in our casethey are thinner. Presenting the truth needs a deeper understanding of theissue. Like any life-loving, life-caring human soul, Shujaat too wanted tounderstand the story first before he would present that understanding to hisreaders. 

I was not a regular reader of Shujaat's articles, but thisbook presented him to me in a more disciplined manner. Earlier I had seenoccasional pictures, here I was seeing an album. Earlier Shujaat appeared to mein flashes, here he looked like a landscape. Piece by piece you lose thethread, put together, you get an impression about the author and his opinion.And that is what the book did to me. It glued together some pixels to make apicture that – exactly one year after – refuses to fade away from our minds.

 May his soul rest inpeace.

(Abridged version of a paper presented by the author on thefirst death anniversary of Shujaat Bukhari)

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