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Is Shah Faesal narrative ‘old wine in new bottle’?

Is Shah Faesal narrative ‘old wine in new bottle’?
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Safina Chowdhary

This is truly news of an unusual surprise that Mr. Shah Faesal is joining politics. What is more flabbergasting is that according to him he is joining politics for a purpose other than those already therein in the camp. Amid these surprises one thing is for sure, Faisal is making history of his own. Now, whether his history is an addition to the golden history that Kashmiris have been manufacturing since 1947 or shall be a part of that tedious and black portion that the ‘mainstream leaders’ and the other bureaucratic henchmen and militarily muscled Jawans have been making us draft since 1947, should be left to the care of the forthcoming historians of this unfortunate land. However, there are certain confusions and questions that have emerged from this political act which need a review and rethinking. This article attempts to raise few questions that Shah Faesal entry into the mainstream camp has generated and endeavour has been made to hunt for answers within the pages of Kashmir’s political history.

The politics of Shah Faisal: It is very much true that Shah Faesal was born and nurtured up in a state of affairs where holding guns and exploding grenades had become the passion of youth. He saw the slaying of men, women, and children by the state forces and the non-state actors at a very young age of his life. Kunan and Poshpora lie in his vicinity. He witnessed the best of non-violent ‘Chalos’ in his prime youth in 2008 and 2010. All these episodes of Kashmir’s dreaded history for sure made a deep impact on his mind and body. He then qualified for civil services with the highest grades and was portrayed as an icon of youth in the valley. His entry into politics is distinctive as well, for his family has no political history of its own, the way other young politicians in the valley have.

However, his political personality is cloaked in mystery. As a politician, would he be consolidating India’s roots in Kashmir or has ‘Socrate’s guts’ to state the truth in the corridors of the authority or is he a person planned for a larger scheme and is thus the continuation of processes that have been crafted in the valley since its ‘accession’ with the Union of India. It has confused many about his political persona. As philosophers would say, people apathetic to politics are idiots; and are carried over. We need not be so, for those in the shackles of slavery are more susceptible to political exploitation.

I sense that he is a part of a suspicious game in the politics of this conflict zone, where people fail to recognize who is who and what is what? He attempts to voice about the sentiments and emotions of those who have been torn by 70-year-old inhuman conflict and involves himself in the pro-Kashmir looks and uses this as a ladder to emerge louder and larger. This is so obvious for common reasons, that he very evidently knows that Mufti, Sajjad and the likes of Er. Rashid started their political game with this sentiment and rose to the position of being the Home Ministers, Chief Ministers, and MLAs, for it’s pretty easy to lure the people on this hope. He also undoubtedly recognizes that till he uses the Azadi and khush-Hali romanticism and makes the Hurriyat less relevant, the ‘deep state’ and the colonial Raj will not hamper him and shall never create hurdles and barriers against his rise. His ‘Azadi laffaazi’ has more gain for the metropole, than the loss they shall earn in the long run, if ever. Such a division of the citizens is always welcome in Delhi for they want us to remain more and more divided and politically confused, the way we are today.  This is a long game that the occupier has been playing here.

Articulating the concerns in Parliament; An old slogan: He begs us to trust him for he will voice our concerns and aspirations in the parliament. It appears immature and ingenious to me, for I have visited and revisited the political history of Kashmir, again and again, to find whether this is expedient or not. I would like to know from him that how much time he would get to speak our sentiments in the Indian senate. Not more than five minutes a year. How much will he tell those heedless cheats in those five minutes? Would he tell them the heart-wrenching stories of those lakhs who have been dying so young in the gory streets of Kashmir so that someone there could listen to their pains and heal them by yielding to them their right to choose their political destiny? Would he communicate them the accounts of those hundreds and hundreds of Desdemona’s who have been raped and molested for pursuing their right to decide their political fate? What he will tell them and how much? Will he bring them Goosebumps by portraying to them the stories of Papa-2 and Hari Nivas Jail? Will he tell them that the philosophy of “Bring them by their balls; their hearts and minds will follow” has manufactured thousands of Half-Widows in the valley, who still wait upon their loved ones endlessly? How much shall he tell them in these five minutes?
Fine, OK he tells them all this. Then, what will happen? Will they yield us the right to be Azad? Will they stop killing us? Will they stop sending our youth to concentration camps? Will they stop manufacturing blind Insha’s? Will they stop sinking and drowning Asiya and Nelofer in a stream that fails to survive a small fish for the scarcity of water. Nothing will happen. We have tried these constitutional methods a long ago we failed to achieve anything.

Okay, he shall bring us development. Firstly this development term is a problem in our nation. What does development mean? A metaled road. 24 hours running water tap. Why humiliate the term development, and why take it to be an electrical transformer or a Sarkari job only. Isn’t it true that the genuine development of any nation is demarcated by its political independence and economic liberation? Fine, let’s accept that the development only means this trivial day to day affairs. So what? Has not he seen Omer Abdullah, the former Chief Minister crying and weeping in the state assembly for it was beyond his capacity to stop security forces from killing Tahir Sofi of Baramulla, for the fact that he being the high command in state has no authority to stop a CRPF constable from killing anyone at his free will? Has not he gotten how the branded economist turned finance minister, Drabu was made to beg and beseech before Delhi for Mund Fund (doles) to run the state? Has not he seen how his prototypes were made to lock their lips when they mistakenly pleaded for the return of power projects? How much their opinion weighed when Delhi sold the water of Kashmir in 1960 under Indus water treaty?
Better he stops vending these ‘Mangeri-all visualizations’ to us. We see Chankyan politics with our bare eyes. The structure where government serves inculcation of narrow-minded and subject political culture and people are involved in a kind of enforced or guided participation in the electoral process, the parliaments fail to voice for the people. This is what defines the political state wherein Er Rashid, and Shah Faisal preach a suspicious political posture and this is where they reinforce the state position. The slogan of ‘Baap Ka Bhai Ka Dada Ka Sabka Badla Lega Rey Tera Faijal’ is a dialogue that suits the Bollywood curtains only, not the real politics. We live in a place where no man is powerful than a man holding a gun. If you do not protect that gun, the gun will not protect you. It is here under the shadow of this gun that the ideas of welfare politics and good governance get punctured.

Can there be good Governance in Kashmir, even if Shah Faisal tries it?
Back in 1152-53 AD, when Kalhana wrote Rajtarangni, the then king asked him to provide him with suggestions to run the state in a better way and recommend methods to stop people from raising rebellions, for these revolts were the regular affair then. Kalhana suggested him to leave bare minimum food with the masses, for the full appetite makes masses to think about political independence and economic liberation. So has been the case with India’s political guru, Chanakya. The Arthashastra makes it explicitly clear that how the then rulers made people deliberately suffer, for this suffering made the people submit to government in a peaceful way. Once you are self-sufficient, exultant and contended you shall seek more and this more is Azadi and independence. Good governance empowers people and offers them strength. So the antidote lies in slavery. This is the reason that we don’t observe the good governance in any of the conflict zones. Be it North East India, Syria, Afghanistan, Kosovo or Palestine.
This is absolutely true in the case of Kashmir as well. There has been thoughtful harm to the institutions of the valley, due to constant intrusions of the Delhi government. Sometimes this incursion was through Bakshis and sometimes through Sheikhs and Muftis, besides Sadiq, Shamsuddin, Qasim, and Gul Shah filling the dots sometimes.
The harsh unemployment, the rampant corruption, pathetic health care conditions, economic redundancy, the moth-eaten education system, and all others are there because Jammu and Kashmir is a conflict zone. And all these problems are conflict management strategies to weaken our commitments to the cause. Everything in an intricate conflict is designed. The economy of a conflict zone is a designed economy. Its unemployment is a strategically fashioned one. The thinking like that Mohammad Yousuf who has an MA and M.Ed. needs a job first, not Azadi debilitates the Azadi sentiment and that is what India aims at.
I don’t say for that matter that these things should remain here, but the point is that these are destined to persist here till the dawn of occupation. Once occupation ends there shall be springtime. Thereby, my point is that your ideas of creating a welfare state and solve the governance issue in Jammu and Kashmir is a hollow slogan and is merely the stepladder to appear strong on the political scene of Jammu and Kashmir. It’s what concerns and worries me.

How Shah Faesal failed his Qoum: The politics in colonies and conflict zones is pretty strange, so is the intifada movement there. There is nothing permanent. Both try to defeat each other. If not defeat permanently then at least bring down the fervour and vigour for a time being. It’s about crusts and troughs, where the cycle once goes to the heights and then lowers down to bottom, where one escalates and the other yanks it down and this lingers till the advent of a period when one or the other submits. So is the case of Kashmir, where the population had defeated the colonialists to such an extent that the top cop had to accept the fact that his million forces cannot defeat few dozen rebels. Where youth had shunned the fear of death, fencing the encounter sites like the droning bees, to protect their champions. The mothers were showering petals on their dead sons, praising their valour. The state was so helpless that they had failed to go for the by-polls in the south Kashmir parliamentary segment for two years, for the reason that they knew quite well that the poll turnout would be lesser than the percentage of Central Kashmir, and would thus be the biggest shame for the world’s largest democracy.  The state was clueless. For them, the situation was quite different, unlike the nineties, when the rebellion had a point of emanation. Then it was possible for them to target the epicenter, which used to be an individual or an organisation, and the war was over. Now they had failed dejectedly. The NIA raids, the killing of Huryat members, the house arrest of Syed Ali Geelani, the destruction of orchards, setting houses on fire were all to hunt for that epicenter. They failed to catch that emanation centre. They could never have reached it, for this was a programme that was dispersed and scattered one, with no one at its back, but the whole population. It was tougher than 1953, 1964 and 1996, when Bakshi, Moulana Masoodi and Farooq Abdullah had rescued their democracy for them in the valley, respectively. The Bakshi and the nationalist Moulana are no more, not even in the history books of Kashmir and Farooq is an old bull now, with no appetite to make the desert blossom. Shah Faisal appeared as a substitute.
Faesal’s entry altered the discourse of the state. From the discourse of “what shall be the poll percentage in Lok Sabha Elections of 2019”, the discourse changed to “A good Politician and Bad Politician” and the usefulness of ‘Alternative Third Front’. Thus, India succeeded in rescuing its democracy in the valley. Faesal got freedom from the “Ji-Hazuri” of the Kashmir secretariat and managed a post for himself in the Indian parliament, besides a CRPF platoon for safeguarding his grave.

The two questions remain there: –
As a student of Kashmir’s Political History, I just crave to see just two things now. One, that Sheikh Abdullah gave away Kashmir to India. If he would not have been there, Kashmir would not have been with India, probably. Then came Bakshi, he destroyed the plebiscite movement and brought IAS into Kashmir. Had he not been there, the Plebiscite movement would have born its fruit, and Shah Faisal an IAS would not have been here, possibly. Then came Sadiq. He gave away special status of Kashmir. Had he not been there, we would have been self-governing and fairly independent, perhaps. Then came Mir Qasim. He brought the Indian constitution here. Had he not been there, Kashmir would not have been the way it is, probably. Then came Farooq Abdullah. He brought Shrine Board here, besides providing state subject certificates to Indian citizens. Had he not been here, there would have been no threat of Hindu Zionism, besides environmental pollution here, probably. Then came Mufti. He brought BJP here. Had he been there, the valley would not have seen RSS Shakas, probably. Then came Azad here. He sold Baltal and Pahalgam to them. Had he not been there, we would not have seen hundreds of dead bodies in 2008, probably. Then came Omar Abdullah. He settled Indian citizens in Jammu. Had he not been there, there would not have been an Indian living in Qasim Nagar and Maratha Nagar as Kashmiri citizens in Jammu, probably. Then came Mehbooba. She brought GST here. Had she not been there, there would not have been economic imperialism, probably. Then came Sajjad Lone and Shah Faesal here. Let’s leave it to future generations to write what they gave away and what they brought in. Let us leave them to write ‘had there been no Sajjad and Faesal, what would not have been here in our ‘country’, probably.’

Secondly, I crave to see that when Sheikh fell to disuse, India sent him to Kud jail and brought Criminal Conspiracy Case against him. When Bakshi fell to disuse, India sent him to same Kud Jail and brought corruption charges against him. When Shamsuddin fell to disuse he was thrown away just after 90 days of rule unpityingly. When Qasim fell to disuse, he was made to vacate the throne halfway in 1974. When Farooq fell to disuse he was made to lick the sputum of Rajiv Gandhi. When Mehbooba fell to disuse, she along with her party was made to beg for survival and was turned into a lesson for the generations to come that the deliberate policy of Delhi is to destroy an alternative in Kashmir politics. What will happen to Sajjad Lone and Shah Faesal? Let’s leave this as well to the future generations to write it.

The Moot Point: – Shah Faisal is just a tool to handle Kashmir for India, after the emergence of deep-rooted distrust in the valley. He is just another case that we the Kashmiris shall have to face in the upcoming times. He is a parachute politician for the future generations of Kashmir, who shall carve out a new political empire for himself and his generations to come. He is to create a trust deficit in the pro-freedom leadership and engage people in thinking that even men in assembly can re-preach popular voice on the floor of the house, and call on other pro-freedom leaders and expected politicians to sail in the old boat again. The old boat that the nation had agreed to burn once because they felt that speaking Kashmir dispute in an assembly will only score points for India and not Kashmir. The only reason behind that was the hegemonic mindset of India and its indifferent attitude, and the same has not changed till now.
However, Faesal shall succeed to woo away a chunk of Kashmiris to his side for the reason that in Kashmir personal devotions, hero worship and blind faith play an important role in making and unmaking political figures. The ideologies and the agendas do not matter here. The Azadi movement here got divided into Muslim Conference and National conference and then Sher and Bakra groups on the basis of personalities, not ideologies. This typical feature of Kashmir’s political history is there, because of intellectual backwardness. This backwardness is an ideal situation for leaders, preachers, and priests, so is it for Shah Faesal.

The author is a researcher in English Literature and can be mailed at safinac66@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.

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