Here is a dull, worn out line: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Now think the reverse of it. What does powerlessness do. It also corrupts, and if this powerlessness is absolute, corruption too is total. As Kashmiri Muslims, are we faced with this twin corruption. Before taking it any further, let us be clear about what corruption means here. It signifies a process of decay, where in you lose you capacities of heart and mind. You can't think right, and you can't do right. You are driven by the instinct of being powerful, or powerless.
I take it from Akbar S Ahmed's book titled, Postmodenism and Islam, Predicament and Promise. Akbar, as in his other books about Islam and Muslims, painstakingly tries to make sense of what is happening in the Muslim world, and how Muslim mind responds to the modern world, and its trends. Read this para of his from the above mentioned book:
"Muslims throughout the world cite examples of gross injustice, particularly where they live as a minority in non-Muslim countries. This group forms a large percentage of the total numbers of Muslims in the world today. Their problems in non-Muslim countries stem as much from their powerlessness as the short-sightedness of those dealing with them. Repeated shootings and killings have led to desperation among Muslims. The state appears to have few answers besides the bullet and the baton. Lord Acton would have sneered, repression tends to corrupt and absolute repression corrupts absolutely."
Like Muslims elsewhere, Kashmir Muslims are part of this situation of powerlessness, and the responses there of. In the backdrop, we too are faced with a double faced monster of corruption. One face is that of the Indian state, now openly driven by Hindu radical forces. Riding on the waves of the US support, and experiencing an economy driven by a sprawling consumer capitalism, this Indian state thinks itself as in the right moment of history where it can take a vengeance on all – presumed, perceived, concocted, and actual – cruelties heaped on the Hindus over many centuries by the Muslim rulers. This, for the Hindu rightwing, is a moment of ascendence where all wrongs have to be set right. The thinking of the Indian state right now goes beyond normal international conduct of power politics. It views Pakistan as an embodiment of the Historical enemy, a political descendent of Babar and Aurangzeb! It looks at Kashmir as a matter of reclaiming a land that was once inhabited by a Hindu population. The doctrines and the practices now pursued are manifestly guided by historical anxieties, and an unmistakable religious passion. So the modern international discourse on human rights, diplomacy, constitutionalism and democracy is least helpful in understanding how this state is going to behave. If it follows this modern discourse, and allows some political practices based on that discourse to function, it would only appear to do so. Because this it would do because of the restraint it faces from other existing powers in its vicinity. Those who want this state to rethink, and re-strategise on Kashmir, are committing a fundamental mistake of not recognising the change of core. This state is not what many would believe it was under the influence of Congress and Nehruvian Discovery.
For just a minute, if we disengage with our pressing concern on how would this present phase of popular protest conclude, there are compelling reasons to think of bigger disasters waylaying us. This agitation is underway, there is a degree of international attention on this, the J&K's state government is practically defunct, LoC is quite hot, and Pakistan is also keen to attend its Kashmir anxieties. If past is any guide, any government at Delhi would go soft in its rhetoric and, even if deception, would take some cosmetic measures to deal with the situation half as tense as it is right now. But this government is not just unmoved, but pushing matters even further. Look at the issue of Common Civil Code. Look at the choking of frees spaces, the latest example being a one-day ban on NDTV India. And how can one look the other way when 8 Muslim youth are killed, and the police officers who did it are awarded, when the matters are now surfacing up that the encounter was only staged. Back in Kashmir the question of delimitation of Assembly constituencies is being opened up. All this unmistakably points towards a corruption of Hindu mind induced by power. As Kashmiri Muslim we shouldn't be deceiving ourselves by shutting our eyes to the rise of Hindu radicalism in India.
But does it mean we allow ourselves to be consumed by the corruption induced by the long and interminable repression we are facing at the hands of the Indian state. The present Resistance leadership in Kashmir is reflecting a more dangerous form of rotting, induced by the condition of helplessness. This is an extension of the general malaise faced by the Muslim from the shores of Nile to the lands of Kashgar, if one can put it very ironically, and not sarcastically. The situation in Kashmir might sound calmer than what it was some weeks back, but this momentary calm can prove very deceptive. There are reasons why one tends to think so. One, this temporary deescalation in the situation reflects a routine journey of a prolonged popular protest. The intensity and the sweep of the public protest against the Indian state witnessed in the months of July and August could not have retained the same degree of fury for the simple reason that it is not humanly possible. If it goes on to show anything, it's the inability of the Resistance leadership to take a timely decision and save people's energies, besides establishing themselves as concerned and capable leadership. Two, the state flung into real action, arresting people in thousands, and using naked force, that too in a disproportionate measure. But apart from this immediate question – when, and how would this phase of public protest culminate – a greater threat is rearing its head. If this twin corruption operates for more time, it is a sure path to disaster. We cannot change the India state, but we must think of changing the mind of our leadership; may be the leadership if it doesn't change its mind.
The least that this present leadership can do is to declare an end to this phase of protest, and allow the general mind of Kashmiri Muslims to prepare for bigger challenges that are fast approaching to hit us.