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Angry Kashmir Needs Direction

By Raouf Rasool

12 March, 2013

Any revolutionary force has two targets, moral as well as material. And as much as some would like to disagree, Kashmir is no exception to this general rule. While the structural violence woven into the political systems here every now and then pushes the young protagonists to the top of the ‘anger mountain’ to shout ‘burn the system down’; those who, deliberately or by default, actually facilitate this adrenaline rush in their bloodstreams, remain plagued by a terrible sense of disorientation. They are hard at understanding and articulating how to go about from here. All they have learnt over the years – 2008, 2009 and 2010 being most recent examples, is to go with the waves of popular anger and somehow maintain some relevance for themselves and their politics. And they have employed a whole lot of theatric to achieve this goal. There are some who have silenced themselves after recoiling into their safe and secure caves guarded by the men in Khaki 24x7. But they make huge statements, either directly before the media-men of their choice, or through proverbial ‘paper missiles’ to signal they are alive, and ready to do anything for the “people’s cause”. Still others have taken recourse to feigning illness – they publicize doctors’ prescriptions, and at times government’s restrictions on their movement to conveniently avoid coming in the real harm’s way – although they don’t think twice before pushing ordinary mortals there. This maze of contradictions emanating from the people at the so-called apex is so disconcerting that it is reason, cause and consequence of popular disillusionment and negativism with political leaders of both mainstream and separatist camps.

Indeed it is these contradictions and innate hypocrisies that are the cause of the popular pessimism with and about almost everything here. People have seen participatory democracy turn into its antithesis. The political panaceas of the past like the formation of the separatist alliance in All Parties Hurriyat Conference have become same old stuff under a different name. Now we have another amalgamation in Mutahida Majlis Maswawrat (MMM) – let’s see how long this grouping is able to sustain its unity! Given their anger, alienation and frustration, the Kashmir’s young, which are now the vanguard, have no illusions about the system, but given their age they have plenty of illusions about the way to change it. They are at cross-roads – like they have all along been, more so in 2008, 2009 and 2010 summers and now once again in the spring of 2013.

Forced into being a directionless mass, these angry young people throwing stones and rocks on everything that comes their way- including even the sick and ailing from their own lot – are and acts more like a mob - physically and psychologically. Although it’s what they do and will do that will give meaning to their lives and to those of ‘their’ people and ‘nation’, yet they have deliberately been denied a compass, so that they do not have a proper sense of direction. Obviously then, their search for ‘freedom’ does not seem to have any road or destination. It is here that a politically mature and tactically sound leadership could make the difference. But alas that too is missing. Wearing popular sufferings as a badge of achievement, those in the leadership roles here, both in separatist and mainstream camps, have become habitual of deceit. Instead of looking at their own people and seeking power and political sustenance from them, they look towards New Delhi and Islamabad, and obviously do whatever is dictated from there. Instead of playing the game as it should be, they take pride in shouting ‘kill the umpire’. Instead of being there to pass on the torch of experience and insights to the new generation, these people are just not there even though they are physically very much in the think of things. So as the young look up at the society and the leaders around them, it is all, in their words “corrupt, materialistic, decadent, intellectually bankrupt, bourgeois in its values…” Is it any wonder that the entire leadership stands rejected in toto? Can anyone actually dare claim to be in command of the people and the situation right now?

The writer is Editor of Kashmir Images, an English daily published simultaneously from Jammu and Kashmir’s twin captals – Srinagar and Jammu. Raouf_rasool@yahoo.com




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