Of flirting with narrative of ‘Azaadi’
“[Indian Administered ] Kashmir is the most dangerous place on earth”, Mr. Bill Clinton once remarked on his visit to India. However, things haven’t changed yet and it still seems the most dangerous place on earth. Whenever a discussion takes place on the Kashmir Conflict, most intellectuals of India and outside, and some Kashmir based as well, begin the discussion with 90s onwards. Something that doesn’t fit in how actually the discussion should take place. As if there existed a vacuum prior to 90s after which the young Kashmiris rose to rebellion against the Indian rule and crossed ‘the line of separation’ and went into the other part of their homeland – Pakistan Administered Kashmir. No decision is abrupt and unceremonious. Especially, when the question of life is under contestation. It is always gradual, hyperconsciously taken and always for a cause more worthy than life itself. It is also applicable to present youth joining the rebel ranks; most of them belonging to educated class of Kashmir – scholars, professors, engineers, policemen – from the eminent background with very little or no traditional/orthodox religious tinge at all. Since there are various militant organisations based in Kashmir fighting for the Right to Self-determination of Kashmiris, a right promised to them by UN to which both the countries India and Pakistan are signatories, it is a matter of very least concern which organisation they join because, in the meantime, they believe, behind the scene, they co-ordinate with each other, they are all same and they are one.
It hardly matters whether there were some specific reasons that compelled thousands of Kashmiris to rise against the Indian rule militarily or some incidents have taken place, whether political or social or religious in Kashmir and around the world, that convulsed the consciousness of Kashmiris and motivated them to fight, because the very presence of India on the soil of Kashmir at first place was morally wrong, lawfully illegal and problematic in all aspects. It might have motivated them, but it was not a cause of their anger.
It sounds like an appeasement and endearment, and it comes as a justification, when we see intellectuals, especially Kashmiris, trying to make an argument with their counterparts by providing some reasons why a huge population of Kashmir in 90s and now are taking up arms, most of them from educated class, against India and why JKP is now their new enemy; it was always, I think; the most fascinating one of them being the case of Burhan Wani who was once beaten up by Army very severely. Undeniably, the hyperaggressive and severe treatment he went through contrived in him a void for revenge, and indeed torture does create an appetite for revenge, not only in those who endure it directly but also those who watch it taking place or listen about it and when you torture someone, reasonably or unreasonably, it doesn’t go away as it is non-biodegradable, but it certainly doesn’t make a case for Burhan Wani’s being apolitical or unaffected, before establishing a new platform for new-age militancy, after living some 15 years of his initial life under occupation; it’s just naive. As already said, picking up a gun is very gradual process and very conscious decision. Back in 60s & 70s, when the Father of Nation, Maqbool Bhat, formally kicked off armed insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, he had no reason to do so, like torture or rigged elections, but the very presence of India within Kashmir was what compelled him. Or the new intellectual boy of Kashmiris – Dr. Manan Wani. His recent piece makes a very rational and sane argument that how it took him almost ten years of his life to understand the occupation and the parties involved in it before picking up a gun. So they should actually stop this emotionalism while arguing what led Kashmiris to take up arms. It not only adds insult to the injury but also deludes other people from real issue(s). The whole argument makes the conflict revolve around human rights violations, election rigging and sometimes, especially in present scenario, alleged “rise in Islamic fundamentalism” in Kashmir as if in the absence of these entities, there would’ve been no conflict. These people who make such argument, I believe, haven’t yet understood what the conflict is all about.
The conflict is not about election rigging. It’s not even about grave human rights violations. What has been happening in Kashmir from the past seven decades is that people of Kashmir are supposed to sacrifice their Freedom and their Rights – Right to Self-determination – for the sake of something else called peace. Coughing up their rights – right to be free from occupation – is what is most times expected from occupied people. We either fail to make them understand our real issues or they’re too inhuman and covetous to understand us and to let Kashmir go away. Kashmir, for most Indians now, isn’t about geopolitics or territorial strife, it’s not even about India, as they believe, have a legal right over the territory of Kashmir and its people, it’s about ego, narcissism and it’s about their military might. It is about India’s stubborn and aggressive attitude towards Kashmir Conflict and their persistence of brushing aside the great sufferings and atrocities Kashmiris have gone through and still continues that we see today things in a very chaotic and anarchical manner or some two decades before when it compelled Clinton to call [Indian Administered] Kashmir the most dangerous place on earth.
Compromise is an indulgence oppressed can’t own. It shouldn’t come at the cost of people’s rights. The oppressed owe nothing to peace and stability. No one should expect them to carry out a moral resistance. The agents of occupation speak the language of pure force and violence. You can’t speak to them in the language of pacifism. When the occupier has dehumanised itself, how can oppressed try to appeal its humane nature through the language of pacifism, love and softness, through the means of peaceful resistance? Every man’s tolerance has a particular extremity. Beyond that, one can’t endure or tolerate oppression anymore. It becomes a burden that needs a remedy and that needs to be unloaded. Violence begets violence. This violence includes violence in all aspects – physical, political & psychological. If you sow wind, you’ll have to reap whirlwind. What was happening pre-90s was mostly a mixture of all these violences. “The colonial regime”, as described by Fanon, “is a regime instituted by violence” and Kashmir is, indeed, a colony of India now, and occupied territory as well. Violence is the bedrock of colonialism and occupation. India has kept a galactic force consisting of nearly one million now and increasing everyday. They, explicitly, resort to violence everyday of any form and there is no stopping it. One hardly needs any formidable contemplation to perceive what such a huge force can do deployed in a small piece of terrain, where their average ratio to the population of natives is roughly 1:17, and privileged with unfathomable and indefinite powers under some draconian laws like AFSPA. Regardless, whether there is a law making them immune to prosecution by providing them with impunity, the killings wouldn’t stop. Occupation and oppression are synchronous and they always go hand-in-hand. Moreover, it’s a tussle of intentions. A boy, whether carrying a gun, a stone or household essentials on the streets of Srinagar or Sopore, can be harrassed or even shot dead by a ‘known gunmen’ passing by who’s from any far state of India regardless whether there is a law prohibiting or permitting him to do so, if he intends. It’s not the war that kills, neither AFSPA, it’s the army and police of India that abuses, rapes and kills.
How is occupation kept going is a question that can be answered in many ways and many contexts. In case of Kashmir, it would be rather too naive to say that it’s only through the military might of India that it keeps an impervious grip over Kashmir and its people. An army man coming from far state of India like Bihar and Telangana is no longer lonely fighting the battle in Kashmir for India to keep it in her possession, it has fielded its collaborators everywhere in every village and every mohalla of Kashmir; it owns them through money or mau-mau. There is nothing like native or settler in occupation. It’s between occupiers and occupied, oppressors and oppressed. The ethnicity or nationality or religion no longer defines an occupier and oppressor, his actions does. The occupier sometimes carries multiple identities – he is either Indian or Indian and Kashmiri both. India has, in fact, deeply penetrated in every institution of Kashmir; social, political, educational institutions, religious organisations as well, banks, NGOs, unions and everywhere. It’s an anarchical state. It’s no longer a homogeneous society where everyone could be blindly believed. They do so in order to consolidate the occupation further. What they actually always keep reconnoitering for is a ” tactical opportunity “. As the occupiers found they could no longer directly seize a strategic opportunity from people’s movement in order to use it in their counteraction, they start their cooperation with their fielded agents to look for the “tactical opportunity”. They achieve this through the negligence of people and their leadership, their lack of proper vigilance and their mistakes resulting from hasty actions or ill-prepared conditions for proper implementation, wasted opportunities for action and progress or hesitation in taking such opportunities.
In Kashmir, the narrative is being changed now. There is a shift of characters. The subjects involved in this conflict are superseding each other terminologically. The oppressors are portrayed as oppressed and vice-versa. It’s a propaganda, a part of strategy to keep people occupied and make their actions ineffective. Its aim is to malign those who fight them, reduce them to barbarians; it always works because occupation drives men into madness. They lose the sagaciousness to perceive the happenings around them, to recognise their friends and foes; something they can’t be blamed for. It may be also due to the fact that Occupation of Kashmir is now outmoded and struggling in its state of moribundity; it’s a dying occupation. It may be because from past few years Militants have won decisive successes over the parties emplaced on the other side of equation; militancy has remained quite effective in their strategies and in their plans to socialise the message of their freedom movement; they’ve become, it seems, the nightmare of occupying forces. But I don’t want to talk in the language of excessive optimism. I don’t want to give my countrymen a false hope of auspiciousness. We haven’t yet, it seems, given much blood where we can aspire for hope. I was, indeed, wrong, I must admit, calling Gun to be ceased, last time. War isn’t yet over. But there is always a hope. Occupation isn’t immortal. But there is more yet to be done.
Author studies at Aligarh Muslim University, Malappuram Centre Kerala and can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.