“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to reform (or pause & reflect). ~ Mark Twain once remarked.
Soon after hearing about the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani a sea of people filled up all the streets and corners of the valley. On the road that oddly bisects my village I witnessed a boy in his 20s desperately crying while raising anti-India slogans. The people around responded with an equal gravity of desperation.
On a perfunctory scale of thinking all this & what followed thereafter is quite understandable. It was a manifest expression of what binds people to the ideal of freedom & to the idols of freedom. Not to mention the pervading execration toward India.
But, the end that people aspire to necessitates a profound & dispassionate evaluation of the attitude being demonstrated . And doing so means facing some hard-hitting & perplexing questions. For instance, why was that boy & the crowd around crying like that ? Was it because Burhan was one among them who had taken to arms & thus sacrificed himself for the sake of their liberation? If yes, & rightly so, one could still argue , if not in contrary, in contention that it’s been almost a ritual now in Kashmir to witness militants being killed nearly round the year & though deeply saddened they are at every single event but no body seems so hurt as to summon a cry like in the aftermath of Burhan’s death. It’s true that not a single martyrdom passes by where at least a part of the valley isn’t enveloped into the blanket of suppression. But, not every martyr happens to be as ‘lucky’ as Burhan & as ‘charismatic’ as him to shake the diverse consciousness of all the stakeholders along with a bit of global consciousness (if such a thing exists in the first place!) after his death.
Here we are confronted with another unsettling question that is directed toward our own consciousness. Why, unlike thousands before him, was Burhan so ‘lucky’ & ‘charismatic’ as to render it almost impossible to find a single soul in the valley who didn’t mourn at his death? Was it because, as majority of the people would claim, that he was a ‘role-model’?
Let’s examine a bit. Role-model is one who’s considered worthy of imitation. Who, in another sense, is nonpareil. So, was Burhan more worthy of being imitated than thousands of his predecessors? Was he nonpareil in a sense?
I would argue in contray that Burhan himself was an imitator though it might be said a good imitator of what was already traced by the blood of his compeers. He did what others of his comrades have been doing from decades now. Though one is quite justified in saying that he was unequaled in his use of the social media. But then again it was because of his debonair looks with those unmistakable pink lips which produced a sort of aura of magnetism around him.
This in no way is to denigrate Burhan’s sacrifice. But, rather it’s an attempt to reflect on our thinking & attitude towards what is most dear to us.
One is forced to think of thousands of ours who also left their parents and warm homes behind & sacrificed their lives for their people. In fact many of them were the sole bread winners of their families & much educated than Burhan. But, we their people, failed them in not recognizing their loss in the way we did in case of Burhan. Was it because that they were not as charming and beguiling like Burhan? Was it because they simply didn’t deserve mourning as grand & as profound as Burhan’s?
Notwithstanding the ensuing unease, questions like these have to be asked & dealt with a dispassionate mind as to address the subterranean prejudices & false sense of love within us.
Mohammed Maroof Shah, in one of his articles in the daily Greater Kashmir, has rightly pointed out that “There’s a difference between wanting /demanding & loving….. Love doesn’t listen to calculative pragmatic rationality. It sacrifices & consumes itself & it’s salvation lies in not getting its object but eternally beholding it from a distance or ever appropriating it.”
Unfortunately we only seem to ‘love’ the ideal of freedom without having recourse to ‘calculative pragmatic rationality. That’s why we ‘love’ some of our heroes at the cost of undermining many others & that’s what cost us so many generations & so many of our years. Until & unless we consider each & everyone who sacrifices his life for the sake of this land worthy of equal respect & mourning & unless reason & logic takes precedence over blinkered ‘love’ we are bound to suffer with no end in sight. Let emotions not cloud our judgement & let every martyr be a Burhan.
Sheikh Shahid from Pulwama writes for CounterCurrents.org & Kashmir Reader, currently banned by the state government.