It would seem that confusions abound in Kashmir. One day it is a hartal because a militant is killed in an encounter, and the next day in the same area or a closely adjoining one there is yet another hartal with people demanding a new tehsil or patwar. In a way there is nothing wrong with both these protests, because while the former represents sentiment the latter may be a legitimate requirement. However, since the form of protest in Kashmir remains the same whatever the cause, it creates a sort of incongruity. This incongruity results as much from lack of proper leadership as it does because of deliberate manipulation.
Requirements of day-to-day life bring an individual or a group in contact with various agencies of the government. In fact, government is actually all about being an organized form of identifying and addressing the needs of the population. Political movements have an acute phase and sometimes these result in an upheaval that precipitates a cataclysmic change. More often the movements go on for years running an insidious course which sees many ups and downs. Major upheavals which result in definitive change are characterized by a period of anarchy which is short-lived most of the time. Of course, there are communities and even countries where the mess lasts for years and it seems that it is anarchy only that is the new order but it is more usual for anarchy to persist only as long as the new order is established. Where movements run a chronic course there is usually some recourse to a semblance of governance that addresses the needs of the population, for life cannot exist in a vacuum. In the absence of any other alternative, people have to turn towards those who happen to be at the helm of affairs even if these happen to be the ones that have been thrust upon them against their wishes. Even if some force holds you captive and you hate it for that you cannot help turning towards this very force for at least your basic requirements.
Of course one could argue in favour of parallel governance in which people would form a parallel authority which would cater to their requirements and to which they would hold some sort of an allegiance. But then this would amount to the freedom of choice that people are actually fighting for and understandably the same factors or forces that are withholding the freedom of choice in the first place would prevent this ‘interim’ freedom of choice as well. Besides governance requires resources and is dependent on many interlinked factors which make it well nigh impossible without a properly organized and supported system. It is not that this reasoning completely absolves the parallel leadership of their inability to address at least some issues of the general public. We have an example of such vibrant leadership in the Palestinian resistance movement where the Hamas set up a parallel government with considerable success. In our own setup the parallel leadership is too divided and unimaginative to be expected to come up with something similar. Then again it is not only the leaders who are to blame but the general public as well which has time and again demonstrated a lack of perseverance and sincerity as almost a national character.
Under these circumstances governance falls completely within the domain of the thrust-upon leadership which makes it masters of the masses and gives it the power to manipulate the masses in whatever manner it wishes. The unavoidable dependence of the masses on these thrust-upon leaders also gives them a measure of legitimacy. In such a scenario, even basic governance, the provision of even the most rudimentary of services or facilities, becomes a sop. It is altogether a different matter that these thrust-upon leaders fail to provide beyond the mere rudiments of governance and to cover up this deficiency they ultimately come up with measures which are high in visibility but in reality amount to no tangible purpose. Like the proverbial red herring, such measures serve to divert the attention of the masses from the glaring deficiencies and failures of governance.
In fact, such highly publicized measures, as for instance the recent gambit of creating new administrative units, serve a double purpose in that they not only divert attention from the inadequacies in governance but also serve the larger ‘national’ interest by distracting the masses from larger political issues. Whatever be the immediate fallout of an issue like the creation of new administrative units, it is a win-win situation for the thrust-upon leadership and their masters. Even the resulting controversy is welcome because that creates even more diversion and generates a debate that edges any other discourse off the centre stage. Like say the ignominious way the Pathribal case has been dealt with. Or say the upcoming anniversaries of two Kashmiris who were hanged without even a proper trial and who continue to remain exiled from their motherland even in their death.