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A Mountain and a Squirrel

India is a big country, largest democracy and a burgeoning economy but Kashmir is a test of its greatness.
Srinagar | Posted : Jun 19 2017 2:48AM | Updated: Jun 19 2017 1:33AM
A Mountain and a Squirrel
File Photo

One of Allama Iqbal’s most fascinating poems taught at the nursery levels is, Aik Pahar Aur Gulehri. This poem is invoked here in the context of present unrest in Kashmir and the state response to it. I’m ideally finding resemblances of Pahar and Gulehri with the Indian state and Kashmiris respectively. The poem thus starts: 

A mountain was saying this to a squirrel

Commit suicide if you have self-respect

You are insignificant, still so arrogant, how strange!

You are neither wise, nor intelligent! not even shrewd!

It is strange when the insignificant pose as important!

When the stupid ones like you pose as intelligent!

On hearing this the squirrel said, Hold your tongue!

These are immature thoughts, expel them from your heart!

….You are unable to walk a single step

Only large size! What other greatness have you?

Ever since the killing of Burhan Wani last year on 8th July, Kashmir is finding hard to return to normalcy. People are unable to forget the atrocities committed by the state against its “own people”. With some hundred people killed and thousands maimed and blinded, calls for dialogue and reconciliation grew louder. The union home minister landed in Srinagar twice during the peak of the unrest but failed to douse the flames. Then an all party delegation visited the troubled valley, met people of different rank and file, put forth some recommendations, but the Modi government is unmoved. Then a group of Concerned Citizens came to Kashmir, met people including the Hurriyat representatives. They also put forth a long list of recommendations for the centre government to look upon. One of the important findings of the group is: “Kashmiris believe that there is a ‘crisis of acknowledgement’ of the Kashmir problem with the Indian state”. India refuses to recognize that Kashmir is a political problem and, therefore, requires a political solution. Most recently, there was a roundtable held in Kashmir under the auspices of Kolkata based Centre for Peace and Progress led by OP Shah and steered by Mani Shankar Aiyer. Genuinely, concern was shown that by making Hurriyat irrelevant, one of the essential features of Doval Doctrine, the devil ‘unknown’ will raise its head. On the top of it, BJP leadership is indulging in double speak on the dialogue process. Arun Jaitely and Amit Shah said that there will be no talks in Kashmir. The home minister Rajnath Singh said on several occasions that he is ready for talks with everyone to resolve the Kashmir issue. 

The opposition parties in Kashmir have done all in their kitty to convince the BJP government for serious dialogue in Kashmir. But the ‘mountain’ is unaffected and unimpressed. How relevant is the phrase: “Commit suicide if you have self-respect”. And that is exactly what we are pushed into. Our angry and highly educated youth are picking up arms. They are PhD, M.Phil and Master’s in different disciplines. What greater tragedy can fall upon an impoverished nation when its educated youth are pushed to the wall? And now ponder over the next challenge: “You are neither wise, nor intelligent! not even shrewd!”. I believe it is partly true. If the other side is indifferent to our youth what have we done to save their future? Our police forces have started a witch-hunt. The case of Zubair Turray of Shopian is a pertinent one. He was in a way forced to pick-up arms. The political parties in opposition are busy in getting the imprisoned youth released from the custody. 

The irony is that the Hurriyat leadership has denounced the armed violence. They are simply out of ideas on how to deal the challenges thrown on us. They must learn a lesson from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. The organization gave an indefinite call in Darjeeling to press for its demands but the educational institutions, transport services, shops and hotels are exempted from the strike. By prolonged strikes, we are only weakening our own economy. I believe that there must be an unequivocal appeal from the Hurriyat leadership to the school going children to refrain from stone pelting. Of course, police has no business inside the educational institutions. 

Now the grudge from squirrel; “You are unable to walk a single step, Only large size! What other greatness have you?” The BJP government is completely unmoved by the happenings in Kashmir. Rather, they have discovered Kashmir as another important electoral issue over which they can play politics in the rest of India. Even the army is in service of the present dispensation to accomplish its political aims. There would be hardly any political movement on Kashmir before the 2019 general elections. India is a big country, largest democracy and a burgeoning economy but Kashmir is a test of its greatness. Unfortunately, our state government is busy only in the transfer of government employees. There is much more to do for the common people. 


Dr. Bashir Ahmad Veeri is a former member of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council.  Views are personal