Views from Srinagar
Malik Zahra Khalid
FIVE months of death and destruction, pain and tragedies have brought two sides of Kashmiri personality to the fore. One is its flock-sense to rally around the tragic families and be with them to share their tears and pain at the initial stage. The second one is the contrasting grey shade of our character; when tragedies prolong we start distancing ourselves and work overtime to insulate our kids from the happenings around.
Community langars were set up in Srinagar hospitals and those people were donating were also among those left with little in their pockets. Thousands of families who suffered in the current unrest found a strange solace in their unique sense of sharing and caring. But age old footnotes on Kashmir’s survival and its instincts to adapt to the circumstances are proving right. History is replete with instances when a Kashmiri rose in revolt and finally surrendered because the silent majority always deserted the fighters. When Mughals annexed Kashmir, a rebellion was let loose by Yousuf Shah Chak’s brother Youqub Chak in Kashmir valley. His volunteers used to carry out sneak attacks on Mughal army and then would go back to their dens in the forests. Those rebels were called locally as ‘Dilawars’. The word entered into the local folklore and was highly praised by the local population at the initial stage. When the grip of Mughal Empire on Kashmir finally became strong, these Dilawars were isolated in the Kashmir society and were reduced to gang members. Finally from Dilawars they became Galvans who used to operate and take best of horses during the night and retreat to Krewas of Budgam, which were inaccessible during those times.
We Kashmiris have been in search of shortcuts to achieve our political objectives and in the process our fight for the same has been stretching. Whenever there is an uprising we want to go whole hog to finish the fight and this temptation to finish it has always brought more sense of defeat, cynicism, and a sense of frustration in us. We start with a barrage of criticism on the leadership forgetting the fact that in the initial days of unrest so far it was the mass uprising with full support of all limbs of people. The sense of defeat in all the fights so far on the political turf has made the temperament brittle, prone to vulnerabilities and machinations of those who rule us.
The huge underbelly in our society which comprises of have-nots are first to be exploited by the rulers to make their survival possible. It was vendors, raida wallas and the well known Sunday Market which were sucked in to defy the calendar of the United Hurriyat Leadership.
The monotony of such a long protest calendar in the history of Kashmir has its own pitfalls. It calls for a debate on what should be the innovative way forward for the “Kashmir resistance” to survive without economic and social losses.
The second shade of personality which came to the fore by the current unrest is that the very core of flock-sense has started disappearing from our social fabric as the current unrest has entered consecutive fifth month. Sopore youth who fell to pellets just few days back did not catch the desired media attention or the care of the society they deserved. One of the boys in Sopore lost both eyes and is undergoing treatment at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital.
When the resistance leadership tried to ease protest calendar by allowing full day relaxation, the flock-sense started disappearing. The life virtually burst out on the streets, the deserted nook and corner of valley was full of activity, virtually leaving behind all those traumatized families who suffered immense losses in terms of losing their near and dear ones or who are struggling with their blind kids in the hospital corridors. It is tragic that these isolated families are knocking the doors of courts and MLAs with their neighbors and relatives looking the other way. The routine of leaving behind those families who suffered such losses in Kashmir unrest is the indicator of how the callousness has crept into our bone marrow which hither to was missing. Each unrest shows us that finally it is business as usual for majority of people who initially were more for do or die protests on the streets of Kashmir. The families who are bearing the brunt of 2016 unrest have started feeling that they have to fight these battles alone in the courts, to get the PSAs revoked or to heal the pellet wounds without expecting any help from outside. The majority of us should decide once and for all whether we should support such uprisings in the beginning, forcing the leadership to give such prolonged calendars.
Can we explain to ourselves why we endorse such self-defeating programs at the initial stage? Why entire Kashmir was shouting now or never? Why we all from intellectuals, journalist, doctors, lawyers, business community to vendors were saying ‘Ye Ghase Te Ghase Eike Latye’. We should decide that if we were part of this uprising in the month of July 2016, how we are now part of opposition to the same unrest in the month of November. The dichotomy and fracture in our character is one of the main factors that New Delhi wants to wear us out in such prolonged protests because they know with the passage of time it would be business as usual; and their political assets in the form of mainstream political parties that are on the ground to bring back the sense of normalcy, they require to carry on political status quo in Kashmir.