The script is familiar by now. A Kashmiri youngster who has achieved success in life is contrasted by a section of Indian media with his or her incorrigibly unyielding fellows who have been challenging the might of the state by throwing stones, or by indulging in other forms of resistance. This provocative juxtaposition triggers a reaction, often unnecessary. A barrage of half-truths then amplifies this reaction and the resultant hybrid narrative is used like a whip against an oppressed people. The whole purpose of the game, which often unites liberals and fascists, is to tell Kashmiris that ‘since you are prigs, you don’t deserve whatever you aspire for’.
Another purpose of this game is to shift the limelight away from the events and personalities that are actually shaping Kashmiri collective consciousness and are inextricably linked to their future. It needs no superior cognitive abilities to figure out what side the balance will tiltwhen the state and the statist media attempt to pitch a popular militant against a bureaucrat. Thus, in this game, the state and its appendages are defeated in advance because they try to pitch an individual’s success against a deeply felt, popular sentiment of millions of people. Otherwise what prompted a BJP leader to demand security for actress Zaira Wasim in the aftermath of her posting a ‘confession’ on Facebook other than the urge to respond militarily to a non-issue blown out of proportion by a media willing to do state’s bidding. A news outlet dissected the Zaira Wasim episode eloquently by simply drawing attention toward a fact the majority of controversy-mongers chose to ignore—Zaira had received no tweets that would qualify for trolling, not to speak of a threat.
Thus, primetime slots would always be open for such controversies. If they don’t get one readymade, they can always invent one. In such circumstances, people can spend their energies in better ways than walking into a narrative trap. Rather than commenting on the private life and choices of a young girl, and the resulting brouhaha, they would do themselves and their oppressed fellows a favor byhighlighting and documenting suppressed histories in their own backyards. For example, the political message in J&K Bank’s 2017 calendar was lost on none. It featured several personalities who have excelled in various fields. Some responded with abuses, while a few took to creative means, like producing a calendar featuring some controversial personalities: a godman accused of exploiting girls and a corrupt official. The satire made the point better than abuse.