Views from Srinagar
Khalid Bashir Gura
FASCISM in India seems to be trickling down to Kashmir, which is known for its communal harmony, even in the face of tragedies. Be it the 2014 floods, when people from different faiths sheltered each other in places of worship, or, earlier, during 2008, 2009 and 2010 when Kashmir was on the boil yet no Indian tourist was hurt or forced to chant “Ragda Ragda.”
The Indian mainstream media time and again has been suffering from a flag-waving syndrome and hyper nationalism. One after another, polemicist anchors and stenographers of the Indian state castigated the Kashmir police’s baton charge on Indian students studying at NIT and started screaming about expressing solidarity with the “occupied, battered, bruised , humiliated” students. Forget about what happens to Kashmiri students in the state and outside. Sometimes, one wonders if India has become a mental hospital where even the doctors are deranged.
Democracy and the fourth estate never bother when it boys in their teens are killed, when lethal weapons and pellets are fired at their heads, when unarmed boys are maimed. They never question the state for its use of military might in Kashmir or north eastern states, or the spending of massive amounts on defence – arms meant to suppress the population in Kashmir. A fraction of that money could have made India’s Anupam Khers more literate, helped in creating more NITs, colleges, universities, hospitals or perhaps helped in feeding millions of Indians who live on less than 20 rupees a day.
And the corporate media is always busy in creating public opinion against Kashmiris through its poppycock commentaries and poor representation of facts, misleading the Indian people, making them behave like a mob, which also makes Kashmiris in parts of India vulnerable.
Any reaction from Kashmir will exacerbate the condition of already discriminated, marginalised Kashmiris in India.
It is apparent that NIT has been politicised, otherwise why would a handful of hooligans, who have been assigned the job to ‘save India’ and repeat the blatant lie of Kashmir being an integral part of India, try to wrap Kashmir in a tricolor?
Isn’t the Indian flag fluttering on the secretariat, outside the airport, on lands occupied by the army? Why does India need to do these stunts again and again? Why are they so insecure?
After witnessing a spate of protests at Kashmir University, where some students protested against the attacks on Kashmiris in India, and expressed solidarity with Kashmiri students at NIT and demanded freedom from India, one saw how the police and authorities chased them away. Protests, as usual, fizzled out. But near NIT, the frenzied media went all out to make it seem as if an encounter had taken place!
The Indian media is coherently creating a narrative on Kashmir being an integral part of India, to raise the issue of Indian flags and chanting slogans, all of which “makes one Indian”. It all seems to stem from the lunatic fervor of right wing Hindus who are inspired by the RSS. Now, with a Prime Minister from the same organization, they have become more intrepid.
But where does this all lead us? Where will this lead India? If India is going to become Gujarat, perhaps the Indian constitution be replaced by “We, or our Nationhood Defined” by MS Golwalkar. Or are these stunts the government’s way of diverting public attention from bigger issues. Does fascist India want a reaction from Kashmir, of what sort? One like in 1989, or an intifada? —The writer is a Mass Communication and Journalism student at MERC