By Marifat Majid
Nothing defines a human more than his reason. The ability to think and make wise decisions is one of those characteristics that may sometimes delude the very cause for which they were given and we barely notice it. While upholding our legacy of being social animals, we have long lost our social instincts and have willingly allowed the animal out of us to divulge concavely to diminish our human status. Now nothing differentiates us from the creatures that lust only for food and the territory ripe for it.
The only thing that could save us is our rationale and our faith in God. Though the rationale itself seems as guilty as we are, we failed God, we failed ourselves, and we failed humanity. The ignorance is not vicious, but the abetment to remain so, is. And, for further despondency we are no longer ignorant but we add to its iniquity to become arrogant. And as Albert Einstein says, “the only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance”.
The summers in Kashmir have always given something horrendous to the people at the hands of the state- whether in 2008,2009, 2010 or 2016. However, the summer of 2016 gave birth to another scavenging tool that was used to pacify people. In Kashmir, it will be remembered as the summer where death was just a pellet shower away. Taming and pacifying people may be possible but curbing aspirations has never been realized through brutal force like pellet showers. In a turmoil, where people raise against the establishment, such forces are used not to kill but to give a lifelong scar. This now seems to be true for the recent uprising that took place in Kashmir during last summer. The target was clear: shoot pellets such that they are either dead or blind.
A nation’s conscience so delicate was expected to react when people whose territory they claim to be its integral part were maimed and killed. But, conscience seems to get dissatisfied only when it requires a person to go gallows to satisfy it. Corrupted, prejudiced and biased by the arrogance of having a firm military control over the territory is what seems to be true now. What does the prime facie reveal when nothing but vague solutions are forced down the throat of a political problem? Nothing, but oxygen in otherwise a smoke filled grill. The political commentators then go jingles to appreciate the oral discussions of these blunt solutions, without realizing that in a smoky grill , oxygen clears the smoke only to flare up the fire. The problem lies in the very fact that India deliberately chooses to see the smoke and not the fire. Otherwise, a nation so good at deriving symbolic meanings out of poll percentages and students sitting up for exams shouldn’t have failed miserably to arrive at the fact that people want a political solution as promised.
Jingoism seems to have overtaken the civility and the civil society of India now either by choice or by force, merely speaks the language of their political luminary. Who is to be blamed? Is it the shadow of world politics that is giving the Kashmir conflict new dynamics? Why should the aspirations of people be sidelined and projected as sectarian, a movement of exclusion rather than of inclusion. Has the state been successful enough to feed its people with the distorted knowledge? Or, is it people who have decided to be ignorant under the guise of arrogance? Whether arrogance or ignorance, both are potential dreads.
Democracy had a reason to thrive. It encouraged discussions, criticism and nurtured the culture of meaningful debate. However, Indian democracy seems to have evolved itself backwards. The majoritarian view is seen as the only acceptable and defining view. Democracy is a two shade triumph now: blue or black, left or right with us or against us. If at all democracy does represent anything, it is ‘run-through’, the process of agreements and disagreements, discussions and debates, learning and unlearning besides the basic tool of public participation in governance. In fact, as Amartya Sen, argues and concludes in his paper ’Democracy as a Universal Value’, and sums it up rather clearly when he says, ”What exactly is democracy? We must not identify democracy with majority rule. Democracy has complex demands, which certainly include voting and respect for election results, but it also requires the protection of liberties and freedoms, respect for legal entitlements, and the guaranteeing of free discussion and uncensored distribution of news and fair comment. Even elections can be deeply defective, if they occur without the different sides getting an adequate opportunity to present their respective cases, or without the electorate enjoying the freedom to obtain news and to consider the views of the competing protagonists. Democracy is a demanding system, and not just a mechanical condition (like majority rule) taken in isolation.”
The elections have been used as a fool proof tool to depict the scenario grossly peaceful in Kashmir since their inception by the state. Not that the earlier high voter turnout was a reflection of people’s will or as widely propagated an alternative to referendum , but as it turned out in one of the by polls held this year, the unprecedented low voter turnout left the state deprived of its long held rhetoric. During this process of facade, an incident where a youth seen slapping an Indian trooper took place. Whole of India went on the boil as the video of the incident went viral. Some praised the restraint shown by the troopers and others demanding open fire, shooting at point blank and what not. The right to react can’t be a one sided affair, if India has the right to react seeing their men in uniform getting slapped, why can’t Kashmiris react to the death of 8 youth killed the same day? One among them being a 9th standard student killed at point blank range.
The situation becomes dangerous when all these practices are legitimized and justified. And then it harks down to the same question again: what allows the people of India to legitimize the bloodbath? Is it arrogance or ignorance?
If the pages of history are revisited we might find an answer. Shift of power makes one forget ones history. Once a subject of powerful empire; Indian state itself is a perfect mirror image of its subjugator, justifying the subjugation of Jammu and Kashmir on similar and in some cases the same grounds of moral and technical superiority that Westerners used to subjugate their colonies. This, in turn, leads to the repressive and suppressive laws being imposed thus vaguely giving an impression of law and order problem while it is not.
Before asking what is right and what the people in Kashmir demand every Kashmiri gets a lesson on our inability to govern ourselves or rather our inability to survive on our own. Even if Kashmir’s long existing history, its existence long before the present state of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is overlooked no one in Kashmir aspires to make Kashmir a nuclear power at this point in time. All they aspire is a life of dignity, a life with their rights restored. And, to my Indian friends, let us come out of this ignorance or arrogance because when of the all literary devices available, rhetoric becomes prevalent, and when this becomes the default reflex, there is, but a meagre chance of a grave political issue being addressed and solved to its logical conclusion.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org