On the rare occasion that commerce strays into the by-lanes of common sense, as it did on Tuesday when an industrialists’ body from Jammu joined hands with counterparts in the Valley to condemn the murderous attack on Kashmiri truckers at Udhampur, expectations rise of a general reversion to sanity, away from the crass and crude interpretations being inflicted on serious and sensitive matters of faith, belief and law, and their exploitation for even cruder objectives camouflaged as politics. Apparently, the move by the trade body to rush from the winter capital and speak side-by-side with fellow business leaders in Srinagar, three days after what by all accounts had been an organised and premeditated fire-bomb attack, must have been occasioned by memories of the disastrous economic blockade of the Kashmir Valley during the summer of 2010 when violent extremist right-wing mobs virtually ruled the Srinagar-Jammu highway. Hoping that the joint press conference in Srinagar, for which the Jammu body deserves equal credit, came as much out of sympathy for the victims (who are battling deep burns in a New Delhi hospital) as out of more pragmatic concerns, there must nevertheless be some harder pondering on the safe and sterile terminology leaders of the two chambers have chosen to deploy.
Pussy-footing around with words like “agencies” and “security-related secret finances,” to explain the Udhampur attack may be a good way not to rub the wrong quarters the wrong way, but under no circumstances does it help tackle and defang the monsters of hate and unreason unleashed systematically on highly susceptible populations that are being fed nationalistic and patriotic diets in lieu of more wholesome mental and physical nourishment. Communal harmony, the “state’s unity,” and constitutional sanctity can be mere phrases for use at public fora and platforms, or concepts and practices to be adopted and practised doggedly in real, everyday life, by resisting the forces responsible for putting them at grave risk. To refuse to identify and specify such forces and acknowledge their role in whipping up communalist frenzies across latitudes and longitudes risks making a sorry figure out of the prominent bodies that have called upon the ruling coalition to prevent Udhampur-like attacks in future. The fine sentiments they otherwise have voiced could unjustly then be construed as viewing the episode as nothing more than bad for business.