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Fall Forward: Thinking Politics

This moment or the next, the dam is set to collapse. Where is my defense!
Mehmood ur Rashid
Srinagar | Posted : Aug 13 2017 1:33AM | Updated: Aug 12 2017 11:42PM
Fall Forward: Thinking Politics
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Has paranoid gripped us permanently, or the fears are real. This time, the disturbance among the 'insiders' betrays that this is the real thing. But this isn't the first time we thought it was real. It's a non-stop theatre where this one-act-play is performed, over and over again. 70 long years and the curtains don't fall. From Sheikh M Abdullah to Syed Ali Shah Geelani, all on the political spectrum of Kashmir have talked about the threat to the Muslim character of J&K.  In our boyhood days, when the armed militancy took over all forms of politics in Kashmir, this was a refrain: If we don't stand up, Kashmir will be another Palestine! 

Decades back we responded to this threat by bringing NC to power; remember, when Sheik Sahab refused to share the political space with Indira Gandhi, in 1977. We did it again in 1987, creating Muslim United Front. That was the time of deep political mobilisation, which unfortunately vanished with the emergence of armed militancy. Armed militancy was itself an outcome of the same anxieties, and it was the time when we, in a way, rose up to make a final assault on the very source of this threat to our politics. 

By 1996 we knew that the scroll was rolled back. Armed militancy had lost its punch. But not before gravely impacting the society, and consequently the politics of Kashmir. Just after that NC came to power, and the Resolution for Autonomy was moved. It was the same time when JKLF changed its course from armed-underground activities to visible-political campaign. Don't forget, it was around the same time Jamat-e-Islami, J&K openly divorced Hizb-ul- Mujahideen, and prepared to dust off the long locked offices in the length and breadth of Kashmir. Hurriyat Conference also tried to spread itself out, because the pressure on it from the armed outfits was now relaxing. Some time later, even the leadership of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen agreed to cease the fire. All this unmistakably pointed towards the resumption of politics in Kashmir.

But tragically this was not to happen. It would be a good research to find out how the gathering of this politics was sabotaged. Besides that detail, two things severely, and almost fatally, hurt our politics. One, the creation of another mainstream party, now an open secrete, to cut NC to size. Another was the emergence of ideological-theological debate, insisting that any relations with the electoral politics constituted treason-apostasy. These two factors, cumulatively,  pushed us into a wilderness that now threatens us all. It was this threat that was invoked to the hilt by Mufti  M Sayeed in the last Assembly elections, only to get us closer to the ravenous beast.

Now that the beast has barged into the compound, panic has again set in. Had it not been the last year's prolonged agitation, and its adverse fall outs on our society and economy, Kashmir might have burst by now. The small sounds from here and there are no match to what it could have been, had we only realised that national energies need an exceptionally brilliant economy. 

This time Kashmir is in complete disarray. The Freedom Camp is under assault. In the name of 'investigating corruption', the members of different parties in this Camp are behind the bars. People in Kashmir do understand that people associated with these parties are hounded only because they make the  human resource for an alternative politics in Kashmir. The target is not any person, or a party, but the collective  politics of Kashmir. 

Turning National Conference spineless, incapacitating PDP and, holding a few individuals almost hostage to their human weaknesses, India, and its specific agencies in Kashmir, have completely dismembered the electoral politics in Kashmir. The ruthless assault on the Freedom Camp is an extension of the same policy of attenuating the politics of Kashmir. 

What compounds the problem for us, in this dire condition, is the culpability of parties like NC, PDP, and some new and old individuals in this spectrum. These parties, for their petty gains allowed this  process of weakening to happen. Not just that, they, at times, became more than passive contributors in this. They are guilty, and the guilt is confirmed. On the other hand, Freedom Camp has its own share of follies and errors. They too damaged Kashmir's politics, and the damage is not superficial. Going by the  standards of ethics they themselves set, they too are guilty of letting people down. 

In this situation, if the Article 35 A goes, and the non-Kashmiris are finally set to settle  as legal residents, with full rights over land and resource, why wonder. We dashed to ground our defences one by one. We thought by killing NC workers, we can weaken India, little knowing that we are inflicting damage on ourselves. NC and PDP governments unleashed terror on its own people, thinking that sitting on the right of side of Delhi is the only way to stay in power. Both of us are finally proved wrong.   

The realisation that our politics needs core corrections, can announce the beginning of a new politics. The journey towards this politics is very arduous, and involves barriers within and without. It needs fuller discussion, and a deeper understanding of politics, and society. It needs courage to break the guilt-made psychological barriers. It needs an act of leadership to rescue us from the shackles of history. It needs a deep and wide restoration of relationships within the Kashmir's Muslim politics.  It needs a movement away form the secular politics, and also beyond the politics of Islamism. 

Tailpiece: For now, the beast has barged in. The instinct of survival is the first guide. This beast has tasted our flesh, gnawed at our bones. It knows well that finally the flesh and bones of us all taste the same. Even a willing collaborator will finally find himself stewed in his own juice.