Much Ado About Nothing

AFTAB AHMAD
As a people who believe their last sovereign was tricked into incarceration by the Mughals and have been ruled by foreigners since, we often credit ourselves with a strong political sense. This is felt at both the individual level and at the level of an aspiring nation. Vaingloriously, we claim we grow up as political beings long before we mature as adults.

But unfortunately, during the tumultuous and testing years of the Tehreek, this sensitivity seems to have got dumbed down though it should have got refined.

One symptom of this dumbing down is the uncontrollably diarrheal urge to react to developments irrespective of their importance as if the edifice of the resistance will collapse if we don’t react to what some monkey in New Delhi or New York or Islamabad has just uttered.

The Aam Aadmi Party, the enfant terrible of Indian politics, makes a statement, and the entire resistance leadership feels obliged, as if a religious duty, to react.

It is pitiable that Geelani Sahib asks Prashant Bhushan (of the AAP) to “urge India to conduct a referendum to seek the political opinion of the people (of Kashmir) about their political future”.

The next sentence of the respected resistance leader’s statement says that Bhushan had earlier been beaten up by Hindu fascist elements for demanding a plebiscite in Kashmir.

And then as a plaint for the loss of a dear friend, Geelani Sahib’s statement says: “However, after coming to power, he changed the stance and it confirms that they are no different from those who believe in their traditional politics.”

Logically, one might ask if Prashant Bhushan has changed his stance, why Geelani Sahib should still ask him to “urge India to conduct a referendum.”

Besides, who is Prashant Bhushan in the larger framework of the Indian colonial enterprise that is ruling people in Kashmir, Nagaland, Manipur and Assam against their will? How will his opinion matter unless he becomes a leader capable of moulding public opinion?

A columnist or two want people to borrow some methods of electoral politics from the AAP. In highly ambiguous language, they want people to forget about the Tehreek for some time and replace resistance with “clean governance” till some divine intervention relieves them of the crushing occupation.

This crap would have been forgotten on its own and was suitably responded to in newspapers and the social media. Geelani Sahib need not respond to the outpouring of bored columnists and lend them credence.

Top Indian journalists and columnists asked India to do something radically different in Kashmir – some even suggested set Kashmir free – during the 2010 uprising. Many of them later provided inputs to the government on how to “tackle” the situation, which translated into police brutality and state repression.

People change and their opinions change too. Many Indians have lent support to the Kashmiri freedom struggle. In our embrace of such Indians, we should not lose sight of the possibility that they might change their stand, the way many Kashmiri leaders have.

Geelani Sahib or Yasin Malik, as the leaders of an aspiring nation, can be expected to respond to, if the need arises, to the statements of Indian national leaders, not every media byte.

It is understandable that in the information-saturated world, it is necessary to maintain a healthy media presence for countering propaganda of the military occupation machine. It is a known fact that billions of rupees are being spent on controlling Kashmiris through manipulation of public perception. In this regard, the resistance will need to respond to the propaganda and the leadership needs to ponder on how to work out a media management policy.

At the same time, it is important to realise that there is an equally vital need for disengagement with the occupying power on all fronts—cultural, political and economic.

We can continue to respond to every media byte on any third-rate Indian news channel or a planted news report or a provocation by a fascist like Modi and end up only engaging with our tormentor, and exhaust ourselves in the process.

It appears that the Hurriyat and other resistance leaders have been communicating more with the Indian state and its auxiliaries than with their own people.

It has been ages since a militant or resistance leader has written an opinion piece in a newspaper of any other media outlet. There was a time when some militant and resistance leaders used to write regularly for local newspapers.

It would be a welcome step if such a local connection is made again because the uprisings since 2008 have proven that mobilising your own people into a cohesive force only has the power to stir up things, not a two-paragraph statement in a newspaper.

Otherwise, in the delusional belief that we have acquired some uncanny political insight, we forget the contradictions that have engulfed us. For example, we often lament leaders are hoodwinking us. At the same time we claim we are politically so mature that no fraud can get us. Let us introspect more and talk less for some time.

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