Kashmir is a readymade dish, which every Indian leader has been and continues serving to its electorate and a timely script is written in advance. Playing the Kashmir card has its own advantages
By Shahid Lone
The recently revealed Indian Home Ministry (MHA) report which aims to further split and coerce Kashmiris does not come as a surprise. The MHA, which serves as a surrogate for the BJP-led India is on a mission to operationalise its “media, mosque and madrassa” theory in Kashmir. The theory is as old as the occupation of Kashmir itself – a legacy inherited from British India. The principles of this theory, ‘Jawaan aur Awaam, Aman hai Muqaam’, ‘Be Alert, Agile and Alive’ and ‘Operation Sadhbhaawna (Goodwill)’ were followed in letter and spirit since 1987 by the Indian army and other security forces. But of late, Jawaan is found scared and dead, and Jawaan is increasingly becoming synonymous with agent oppressor in the eyes of the Awaam. Even Mehbooba Mufti says the theoretical approach is full of “Bhadbhaawna” or ill will. Understandably then, the theory governing Occupation needed to be restructured.
The reasons also pertain to electoral politics in India as elections are underway in many Indian states. The BJP senses that it’s time for it to catch time by its forelock to strengthen its vote bank and raise the morale of its cadre. And, lo and presto, here comes the first side of the equation: “the Kashmir card”.
Recently, speaking at a rally in Western UP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following his predecessors, cleverly linked the infiltration from Gorakhpur border and violence in the region to Kashmir and ISI, and affirmed to the people “Pakistan sponsored terrorism in Kashmir will be dealt with sternly and Indian soldiers will lay down their lives to defend the Integral part.”
Similarly, in Manipur, Rajnath Singh said, “Pakistan is hell bent on disintegrating the Northeast (A reference to the seven northeastern states) through Kashmir but our intelligence agencies and forces are capable of giving a befitting reply like we did with the surgical strikes.”
This explains it all. Kashmir is a readymade dish, which every Indian leader has been and continues serving to its electorate and a timely script is written in advance. Playing the Kashmir card has its own advantages. First, bravery and morale of Indian security forces is eulogised. Second, it helps in spreading sensationalism in the Indian media loop, always a big intended benefit. Third, Pakistan is projected as a weak and a terrorist country, with no respect to minority rights and human life and India is presented as a country where peace and divine laws prevail. The basic thrust here is to ridicule the two-nation theory. All these and many other psychological-electoral benefits revolve round Kashmir.
The second side of the equation, for Kashmiris, is just like an innate or self-evident truth, which we have empirically observed. For instance, India wants to control the media but isn’t it a fact that they have been already doing so? Our print media journalists were intimidated in 1990s and stopped from filing real ground reports. There was a total clampdown and censorship was invoked on local channels during the 2008 uprising. Is it not true that newspapers couldn’t maintain their break-even point in 2008 because advertisements were stopped and a few newspaper owners rushed to Delhi to strike back hand deals with the government?
In fact, explicit directions were given to Kashmir’s media houses to bar certain writers and refrain from publishing their pro-resistance narratives. Some newspaper editors then demanded sports and marriage columns from political writers of the oppressed nation. The media gag and intimidating tactics like jailing of male journalists, attacks on female journalists, breaking the equipment of photojournalists ensued.
Indeed, 2016 was a tough year for our media fraternity, but despite all the odds they tried their best and deserve to be appreciated. An unprecedented repression on this newspaper and others is reflective of the coercive structure that is embedded in this theory.
Mosques and madrassas are not mere places of reverence but places from where nation building starts and their importance can be gleaned by a cursory look of our 1400 years’ tradition and history. In his book, “Kashmir and the Vajpayee years”, India’s former external intelligence agncer RA&W chief, A.S. Dulat has touched upon this subject. Averring that serious resistance essentially emanated from the mosques, Dulat refers to our “Jumma Khutbaas” and emphasises that Khateebs preach radical version of Islam to masses which is an immediate source of resistance. It is to be noted here that among the many PSA victims are our Khateebs and Imams, who have always exhorted us to fight injustice with justice, regardless of sects and groups. Kashmir is not Lucknow, Delhi or Muradbad; it is the land of Burhan where “sarkaer moulvis (government-propped mullahs)” have remained unacceptable. Our resistance is testimony to the fact that we have resisted this occupation tooth and nail as Kashmiris and not as Sunnis, Shias, Barelvis, Wahabis or Jamatis, and every Kashmiri is aware of the State’s sadistic ploy to divide and rule.
As a nation, we know what we are fighting for. Ours is a just cause and our justice theory, as explained in ‘The Essence of Islam’ by Sayid Jafar Reza is “Justice to Creator by having faith in Him and by obeying His injunctions and mandate, as He is justice. Justice to the Prophet of God (PBUH) by following him as he represents the authority of God. Justice to one’s own self by keeping it secure from illness and egoism; Justice to the body by keeping it healthy and free from undue exertion and illness; Justice in the matrimonial sphere; Justice to parents as they have been instrumental in gifting our existence; Justice to the spouse who shares the burden of leading a family life; Justice to the offspring as they are the extensions of our own life by motivating them to take the right direction in life; Justice to neighbors by sharing with them in their moments of trial; Justice to the sick by helping to restore health; Justice to the downtrodden and poor by supplementing their basic need; Justice to the motherland by enjoying the fragrance of its soul, by loving and promoting its prosperity and being ready to sacrifice for it; Justice to the entire humanity by contributing to its development; Justice to knowledge by making it reach far and wide, by enabling mankind to enjoy its fruits without discrimination.
Justice, therefore, is the foundation of Islamic principles and occupies the place next to the oneness of God.”
These themes and ideals animate us and determine the locus of our being. We will never yield and we will never succumb.
Just like other earlier theories advanced by the State, this one too will be an exercise in futility. India has accepted its defeat in Kashmir.
– Shahid Lone is a doctoral candidate in Political Economy at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org