As Jammu and Kashmir spins into incoherence and shame, it is time for the civil society to assert and ensure it’s the formation of a resurgent civil society of Kashmir which will demonstrate that despite the complicity of the state that has (willingly or unwillingly) allowed it the happen, despite the tendency of political parties to make political capital out of it, mass mobilisation are still the more formidable tool of resistance. These are not the weapons of the weak; they are beacons of hope and empowerment.’
This is Haseeb Drabu in a paper he presented at a seminar in 2007. The general drift of Drabu’s paper is that the civil society must strive non-violently to make conditions ripe for a dialogue, keeping in view economic considerations and ground realities.
Two non-violent mass mobilisations happened following this seminar and both were crushed violently by the state. After lighting the spark of the first uprising in 2008, the political party Drabu now represents simply left the ground and let the real state, the police, army and CRPF, do the talking on streets— with bullets. Students tried seminars and small demonstrations in India’s capital. They were branded for life. Indian intelligentsia and resistance leaders who spoke at a seminar in New Delhi were attacked with shoes and charged with sedition.
The National Conference-Congress combine that replaced PDP-Congress government took state repression to a new high. A person operating a twitter handle, Ibn-e-Batuta, which attained popularity with some well-directed criticism of Omar Abdullah’s government, was persecuted by the police. When PDP came to power, the criticism of the state from that handle mellowed considerably after the critic was given an important assignment in the administration. His is a classic case of what kind of civil society activities are acceptable to the state—those that do not lead to Drabu’s passionately desired ‘mass mobilisation’ but rather end in the confines of the all-powerful state. Only last week, civil society members Hameeda Nayeem and Zahid Ghulam Mohammad, with whom Drabu spoke at the 2007 seminar, were stopped from holding interactions with the civil society in Rajouri. Hameeda Nayeem is head department of English at Kashmir University. Zahid, a retired bureaucrat. Dr Iqbal and Shakeel Qalandar who were accompanying them have nothing in their records that can remotely be termed as violent. They write columns in newspapers and attend debates and discussions.
Drabu’s mention here is incidental. It could be anyone. Kashmir history is replete with examples of people who have been Martin Luther Kings in the morning and Qadir Ganderbalis in the evening.