By Jannat Malik
My New Year’s resolution-making started with grim note, or I had a vision of hundreds of our youth detained under Public Safety Act. I was reminded of Kashmir’s uneven history of resistance. This history usually blooms during the summers and shimmers down to nothing in winters. The intensifying cold and chill leave us inconclusive whether the resistance has borne some fruit or only left us in the oblivion of Azadi. While aspirations were brewing in summer following the killing of Burhan Wani, at this moment, we appear in despair again, unclear whether we have only wasted these months or we have achieved something. Wasted in the sense that thousands stand maimed, about one hundred killed, still hundreds languishing in jails while Kashmir limps back to normalcy with the usual calendars reduced to a mere formality.
The united Hurriyat once determined in summer that we were near our goal and that we have never got this far in our struggle. But today, it is muted as the long term strategy turned weak and the Kashmiri people felt the need to reduce the number of days of strikes. Where does the onus of blame lie? Is it on the Hurriyat for weakening this struggle given that they could not forge any vision during these months that could keep Kashmir in the limelight? If yes, then why are they our leaders – visionless leaders? This is not to forget how long they took to come under one banner. Leave aside the leaders, Kashmiri struggle has always been a people’s movement yet our so-called intellectuals, human right activists have never come up with such a strong strategy that will help our movement despite people’s heroic and valiant efforts.
My diatribe might sound like criticism and I may be labeled as a critic. But I am not one. I do, however, question.
The pain I see in the eyes of parents whose children been detained in various jails, helplessly roaming the courts, definitely makes me think. We cannot let hundreds of our youth who are at the peak of their lives languish in jails. We cannot keep begging with the mainstream politicians for their release. Instead, the Hurriyat must devise some strategy to pressurize the government to release those incarcerated.
Moreover, the long-term resistance cannot have only calendars as their pivotal parts. The joint is that the resistance leadership has to prove its mettle and lead from the front i9n spite of the difficulties the administration mounts against it. Certainly, there is no problem with issuing calendars but our struggle cannot be reduced to merely following the protest calendar. Shut downs are mere shutdowns. Definitely again, we have to rethink.
At another level, we have scores of activists debating at every platform the pain inflicted on Kashmiris, highlighting the rights abuses by government forces. Appreciated, but the amount of groundwork that they need to do is far more than what has is done so far, as the onus lies on their shoulders to come forward and liberate the youth of Kashmir. But the pain and plight of the injured, not to speak of the families of those killed, snuffed out lives, must not be used as mere debating points.
In terms of our leadership, faith and trust in them should have been the driving principle of our movement but instead what we have is rift, lacunae and confusion in the minds of people as nothing concrete never comes up from our leadership.
Kashmiris are a brave and heroic people who have always resisted oppression. They have been vocal about injustice inflicted on them. The past uprisings is an eloquent proof that people, without any provocation, are ready to resist any unholy move aimed at suppressing us. However, the end has always been the same. Our youth are thrown into jails while the leadership just stands mute merely issuing calendars and statements. The movement would have been much stronger and healthy if the leaders had come up with such strategies and policies that would save our youth. Rather what happens is that we fall prey to an oppressive regime with no backup plans to save our precious youth who are ready to do anything for the cause.
Let me now turn to the ‘mainstream’ politics. They are playing a post truth politics game. There is no denying the fact that everybody has played his or her part in the mainstream charade of being chameleonic. From championing the cause of freedom struggle to infamous ‘toffee and milk’ comments, their role cannot be neglected in further damaging the credibility of the resistance movement.
Separatist politics has then always had a pivotal role to play. But the problem is that people repeatedly trust them yet nothing substantial happens and yet the result is the same every time. We all make mistakes, but the 2016 movement must serve as a cautionary tale. We must continue to learn. It is never late for people of Kashmir. Because we resist every time, we forget nothing. All of us – leadership, intellectuals, activists, youths, women, everybody – has a role to play. Although nowadays we are using a variety of platforms and methods including sarcasm on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to highlight our plight, the need of the hour is to rethink and save our youth who are languishing in jails, and our future. They are our leaders, nation builders, and fearless torchbearers. Something has to be done. They must be saved.
—The writer is a student of horticulture and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org