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Sunday, August 15, 2010

This August 15, face the reality of Kashmir

By Swapan Dasgupta
This August 15, our world has been turned upside down. For the past two months, the Kashmir Valley has been engulfed in an orgy of stone throwing directed against the civil government and the security forces. It has been widely described as the Kashmiri intifada, a tag calculated to generate oodles of romanticised angst. Nearly 45 people, many of them children, have died as harried security forces have attempted to restore order. Quite predictably, each death has bolstered a caricatured view of brave but desperate protestors being felled by the lathis and guns of an uncaring colonial power.
For the propagandists of the yet unspecified azadi, the upsurge has become the moment of liberation, a time to dispense with ambiguity. Behind the poetic justification of stoning, a romantic exile’s quiet but unmistakable endorsement of the fidayeen gunmen and the ridiculous recourse to pseud-speak (“Life here is Orwellian, Kafkaesque and Catch-22 all rolled into one”) is a more ominous development: the defiant proclamation that a ‘solution’ to the Kashmir problem isn’t possible within the Indian Union and the Indian Constitution.
A position that was once the prerogative of the likes of the fully-veiled Asiya Andrabi of Dukhtaran-e-Milat notoriety—even the stalwarts of the All Party Hurriyat Conference used to camouflage their subliminal desires in the demand for a tripartite agreement—has entered the mainstream discourse.
The Kashmir Valley has always nurtured a core group of highly motivated activists who never reconciled themselves to the accession of 1948. That was always a fact of life which provided succour to Pakistani adventurists determined to complete the “unfinished business of Partition.”  Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s Operation Gibraltar in 1965 was prompted by the belief that his tiny spark would light the proverbial prairie fire in the Kashmir Valley. The ISI made the same calculation when it eyed the protests of 1989-90 as an opportunity for an armed insurrection. But somehow, secessionism never got to the centre stage in the Kashmir Valley. Azadi was a template slogan for all occasions, akin to the labour movement’s Inquilab Zindabad . It was poetic rather than literal.
The threat to the Indian Union posed by the recent ‘spontaneous’ outbursts that even left the Hurriyat leadership feeling unwanted, shouldn’t be minimised. The ferocity of feeling and the visible show of hatred against all symbols of authority, particularly the Abdullah family, suggest that the old political recipes to soothe ruffled feathers will carry diminishing returns. No doubt Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meant well when he addressed the all-party delegation from Jammu and Kashmir last Monday. But with the wealth of ground reports at his disposal, he should have known that neither autonomy nor a committee exploring a public sector-driven employment generation scheme would address the situation. The protestors screaming azadi now mean what they shout; their eyes are on what they imagine is a bigger prize.
This grim reality may be unpalatable to those convinced that Kashmiriyat is inherently at odds with the doctrinaire Islamism that will darken the Kashmir Valley if the India link is snapped. This inability to face an awkward truth may explain the appealing suggestion that the stone chucking youth are actually crying out ‘to belong’ to an economically resurgent India and that New Delhi must respond with a kindness, generosity and opportunity.  
How the TV chatterati interpret events in Srinagar is of some importance in determining how Middle India sees the Kashmir problem. Since the last thing anyone wants is for youthful over-boisterousness to provoke an anti-Muslim backlash in the rest of India, there may be some merit in squeamishness and even wishful thinking. However, piousness on the air waves won’t change the ground reality. For the impressionable agitators living in emotional ghettos, the PM’s elegy, last week’s solidarity dharnas in New Delhi and supportive noises by Indian intellectuals have prompted one inescapable conclusion: India’s resolve to keep Kashmir a part of the Union is fast waning.
The perception may be a self-serving and a result of mistaking contrition for capitulation, but it nevertheless exists. On Independence Day, it may be time to introduce an alternative understanding of India, an India where indulgence also merges with unflinching resolve. 


Anonymous said...

Very perspicacious Swapan Dasgupta !

Mufti Md Sayeed & her daughter ALSO have always been fomenting trouble. As you have rightly observed it is not for want of "employment opportunities" they are challenging our sovereignty.

Their ideology is such. Give an inch & trust them to grab a yard.
Hindus have always been too soft & conciliatory including BJP towards them. One of our flaws is this obsession with image. We want to be looked upon as tolerant & accommodating.

Even after hijacking of Indian Airlines flight to Afghanistan India never gave up playing cricket & cozying up to Pakistan , pledging enormous amounts towards " reconstruction of Afghanistan ". What did we get in return ? Hindu Engineer Suryanarayanan was beheaded by taliban in Afghanistan.

Recall the shipload of medicines & food sent to Cuba as jyoti basus & pataudis desired so. Today Castro 's heart bleeds for Iran.Libyan Gadaffi invariably supports secession of Kashmiris.

Incidentally tehelka craftily avoids turning their probing searchlight towards the muslims of India .

In such a scenario except Narendra Modi , there is not a single hindu leader gutsy enough to "face the brutes" ( Swami Vivekananda ).

Most of the faux godmen & godwomen who hindus turn to for guidance including art of living SSRavishankar & Baba Ramdev are but wimpy appeasers. Hence Narendra Modi should give up consulting such "avatards" & act uncompromisingly.

Our Home Minister P Chidambaram is a good man but in the wrong party Congress who are but incorrigible appeasers.

It is time we the hindu aam janata convince ourselves certain minds & hearts can NEVER be won. And stop chasing chimeras like 'akhandaism '.

ArbitThinker said...

I feel that the calls for Azaadi are wrongly dubbed. It is the teens who have given the call for Azaadi today. The historic context of the problem dont figure much in the minds of the people born in 1990's. Their call for Azaadi is the call for restoration of basic rights given to every Indian under the constitution. It is an opportunity to bring them in the main stream and also give an honorable closure to the India- Pakistan problem on Kashmir. We have to appreciate that the internal and external dimensions of Kashmir problem are different and need to be handled differently.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, muslim society is allowing themselves to be manipulated by Jehadi groups. Muslims will pay a heavy price for this. Life will be dark and colorless.

Anonymous said...

The " agitating violent " kashmiri muslims can be fruitfully employed as personal bodyguards of all appeasers among Indian politicians except Narendra Modi & Vasundhara Raje. And all celebrities.Including barkha dutt.

Send them all to do "reconstruction work " in Afghanistan.And flood relief work in Pakistan.Let them have a taste of life for at least two years in Pakistan & Afghanistan.If possible Libya & Morocco too.

Anonymous said...

India also has been facing a lot of disasters like Kosi floods , earthquakes, tsunami and several bomb blasts , railway acidents etc.

Yet , as a nation we conducted ourselves with far more stoicism & dignity.

I was zapped to find Pakistan's Quereshi telling BBC correspondent in an intimidating way:-

" If aid does not come from the West , I am afraid my country will become unstable & cannot help you in this war against terror..."

BBC being Bismillah Broadcasting Corporation did not have the guts to say "please become unstable & implode..will solve a lot of world's problems ".

Siddhartha Prakash said...

There is a better explanation of the whole scenario in Kashmir:

Swapan Da, being a veteran of so many things in India, I expected a better analysis from you.

ravinder said...

India is trying out in Kashmir what India thinks is the last option left to it.

Partition didnt work as Pakistan looked at it as an opportunity to wage war, then full scale war had its limitations as Pakistanis sliped under the radar for good by avoiding the full scale war and starting proxy wars, now India will have to match Pakistanis at their own game.

India took up partition to avoid civil war. Now since that option doesnt work out, so it is time to reply with a tit for tat proxy war. But the problem is that even a proxy war requires an opponent. An opponent that can be made to capitulate, but Pakistan these days, doesnt look like one. Who will capitulate in Pakistan, who do we fight against.

BTW I dont get it with Mufti Md Sayeed. Was not his daughter abducted by Paki sponsored terrorists. What has happened to him....Stockholm syndrome. Is this what Islam does to muslims?

Anonymous said...

The alleged ' abduction ' of Mufti Md Sayeed's daughter was a contrived farce. It was not like a hindu Rupin Katyal aboard the Indian Airlines flight hijacked to Kandahar.

Opting for partition was inevitable. Honestly speaking , has there ever been respite for hindus from their relentless attacks both from within & without ?

A hindu ought not to feel a wee bit sorry for Omar Abdullah today. Remembering how arrogantly anti hindu he was during Amarnath riots.

We hindus are at fault forever in denial about their ideology. The few moderates among them only follow the extremists among them by scrupulously avoiding any kind of defiance or confrontation.

The same Sri Aurobindo frowned upon this ridiculous fetish for hindu muslim bhai bhai sentiment saying:-

" How can you live with someone who is intolerant towards you. A day will come hindus WILL take up arms against them & it shall be apocalyptical ".

Anonymous said...

Punjab like solution is ideal for Kashmir. In our federal system half power resides with state government and half with central govt, but the vally people have share even that state govt power with Jammu and Ladakh people.

Punjab was divided into 3 states and similarly Jammu and Kashmir state can be divided into Jammu, Kashmir valley and Ladakh. So that Kashmir valley people can enjoy full powers of state govt. If Ladakh is too small for a state, it can be annexed to Himachal Pradesh.

This will give Kashmir valley people full right over themselves, and they will be satisfied.