Kashmir: From Ground Zero
By Aleem I Akhtar
07 July, 2010
New Delhi is elated. The Northern Block, rhapsodic and jubilant. Rahul Gandhi vindicated. Sachin Pilot asserting, ‘I told you so’. Their alchemy for a renegade Kashmir has worked. Omar Abdullah is indeed the best Abdullah to handle Kashmir for the Indian State. The young son of a rising India on a ‘management’ exercise to tame the young sons of a fallen Kashmir and he hasn’t disappointed. One bit.
We see anarchy in the courtyard of Kashmir. An offensive against our nationalism. A bullet for a craving of dignity. Fictitious probes to establish our raped sisters were adventurous and horny. Encounters of innocent men to prove Pakistan’s cross borer mischief. The stone pelters branded as paid agents to create disharmony in a free state that Kashmir is. Graffiti on the streets attributed to opposition. Crackdown on the alternative political spectrum. Front page advertisements which would make George Orwell proud, of how the present political dispensation was the best thing that happened to Kashmir and development works started in eighties attributed to our time travelling blackberry man. Assertions by the military high command on their holy grail that Armed Forces Special Powers act is, mocking the martyrdom of a Zahid Farooq or a Tufail Matoo. In their grave. In our face. This though is the irony of it all.
The latest killings in Sopore bring home the point of how Omar Abdullah is the best man New Delhi could hope for. The past two months have perhaps been the worst period of human rights violations under any dispensation, elected or selected. The status quo has moved from the customary disappearances and the occasional encounter to a consistent trajectory of cold blooded massacres; rather suicides, if you like Omar. In line with its abysmal performance on the election promises of development and moderation, the Government failed to protect the basic right to life of these unfortunate boys of an unfortunate nation. The response has been limited to a certain Ali Mohammad Sagar setting embarrassing deadlines in embarrassing press conferences and the Chief Minister’s advisor, with suspicious black hair for a man of his age, religiously assuring us that perpetrators will be dealt with. They never are.
The Chief Minister himself though stands out, both in terms of conscience and competence. On the latter aspect we saw an elected Chief Minister of a sensitive state exposed and powerless, pleading helplessness to the Home Minister in ‘domesticating’ an indifferent DG CRPF who works under the command of the Chief Minister and whose previous assignments have been controlling traffic beats on the streets of Bhopal. Amusingly the Chief Minister sees this is as an escape route to stand besides the vanquished in his attempt to stand up for every murdered boy, every broken father and every wailing mother, overlooking the fact that he happens to be the face of this system that so ruthlessly perpetrated these killings . The sentiment on the street speaks for itself.
However what is more disturbing and demeaning is the Chief Ministers acknowledgement of New Delhi in the wake of these killings. Instead of exerting restraint on his rogue forces and reaching out to the families of these martyred men, the Chief Minister has the audacity to praise New Delhi for its role and support in the development of the state. He seems to be living in a counterfeit universe, oblivious to an impending civil war in the state he rules. His latest gratitude to the Center betrays the sacrifices of an entire nation and taunts the misery of these shattered families. His conscience and outlook could not be more unsynchronized with the Kashmiri sentiment, aspirations and struggles. The Chief Minister’s understanding of Kashmir is at best at the same level as that of a Mukhtar Naqvi or a Vir Sanghvi. He genuinely does not understand the crisis, humiliation and dilemma that a Kashmiri faces everyday. His heart has never pounded in a nineties crackdown, he has never had to run in the aftermath of a chagg, he has never been stuck in a kani jung, he doesn’t know the feeling when a drunk jawan ogles at your sister, he is withdrawn from the sense of siege we have grown up with, unfamiliar with the trepidation everytime a Gurkha or a Jatt regiment ransacked our houses, his self respect has never been dented by prostrating to an army hawaldar, his youth did not revolve around an aspiration for a right to life and most importantly he can never relate to the lament and anguish of a hum kya chahte reverberating across Kashmir. This all works out well for New Delhi in the grand scheme of things. A Chief Minister who stands on the same makeshift pedestal of disbelief as the Indian State, is on the same page of disconnect as the Indian State with all of us and as a value addition, does not complain.
As for us the present situation and dispensation is one more disastrous political endeavor that we would have to live with. In the meanwhile, we will keep protesting and we will keep dying. We will observe shutdowns and we will walk step by step with a clueless Hurriyat with a clueless agenda. We will post Go India Go and Azadi on face book but we would strive to get that Infosys placement. We will observe black days and we will ask for a revival of tourism. We will have the occasional rape, and the corresponding enquiry by a biased judge. Our hearts would bleed for an Asiya and we will look forward to the winter vacation to catch Katrina Kaif on the big screen. And yes we will vote. It all ends the same. In the midst of all this frenzy and tragedy our intellectual circles will debate whether a veterinary can be called a Doctor and whether Zakir Naik is a good Muslim.
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