Kashmir: Ceasefire Chant

Views from Srinagar

Syeda Afshana

CEASEFIRE! Conditional ceasefire! Ramadhan ceasefire! Appeal to join mainstream. Respect sanctity of month—the entire talk of ‘Operation Halt’, while guns continue to roar and violence stays, comes as an unflustered lampoon. Because those who talk about it fully know that they don’t actually mean it. And connecting the whole discourse with the month of Ramadhan sounds weird for violence remains a wicked affair regardless of any specific timeframe. The only way it is any way unusual is the wrong corollary speakers aim at. The chant is bluntly misleading.
Taking a break from fighting is good. But linking it to religious precincts is not. For whatever deemed ‘unacceptable’ through any theological prism is dateless. Time stipulations don’t ever redefine and alter its legality or permissibility. Days don’t amend shortcomings into strengths. Months don’t adjust vices into virtues. Ramadhan or no Ramadhan— interim codes of ‘principled proclivity’ fail to carry any affect. Bloodshed is atrocious. Perpetually in every phase. No gainsaying.
Obviously, putting up of such a crackpot proposal heaps complexities of meaning in a political context where realities of conflict contradict the operative combat strategies. Rhetoric and reality are juxtaposed. With the former referring to an incomplete, often contrived representation of issues and events, and the latter referring to broad-spectrum representation including skewed perspectives and predilections. Kashmir has been the lab of such experiments, in fits and starts. Tucked away as ‘conciliation’ in political parlance, these proposals resurface as unlearnt lessons of past that are met with a barrage of yet more skeptical and shady interpretations. And this remains no grand revelation!
The 2017 Ramadhan beckons to unrelenting cycle of violence in which almost 42 people lost their lives (The Times of India, 24 June-2017). Recalled as the Gory Ramadhan in Kashmir over the years, it shockingly included the lynching of a police officer in the premises of a mosque on the eve of Friday night. Hence, Ramadhan then and Ramadhan now. Truce never and truce now. Sanction then and scorn now. Bolstering something so entirely and suddenly bluffing it so speciously — the ‘holy hypocrisy’ here continues to be indiscriminate in respect to state and non-state actors and their narratives; and also vulnerable to distorted differentiation between matters of religious approbation and political allegiances. And which don’t necessarily find any correlation through!
Against this, the outpouring of “having no respect for the holy month of Ramadhan” in wake of latest border flare-up around the time of PM’s visit, sound just noise. While incessant killings of civilians along the border are highly deplorable, the mention of Ramadhan amidst the ambit of shifty strategies is utterly unwarranted. For so long, people in Kashmir have been hoodwinked to believe that the touchstone of their ‘religious morality’ defines their ‘standards of politics’. To the extent of trivialization, from green color to rock salt and many other motifs that reek of this brazen binary. Astonishingly, certain politicians here still latch onto this survival mantra!
Whatever, to drag devotional aspects into politics of any kind is unseemly. Holiness is holy only so long as our conviction to sacrosanct things is. Something that is humbly very personal and reasonably relative. Depending on the whole range of our life learnings. It can never be a subject matter for theatre of war: its dramatization and denouement. So beyond the babble of armistice and scoring of brownie points, it deserves to be left alone and undisturbed. For the solemn sake of its hallowed quintessence.
Bottomline: Kashmir today is at its murkiest when it comes to political plain-speaking. Everyone has unilaterally earned the blatant right to be wrong and get measured as ‘high and mighty’. Power dynamics is consciously following a maneuvering act of will wherein not enough room is left to alleviate daily injustices and insults. Thus, expecting deep-seated violence to end in a jiffy is possibly delusional. However, ceasefire needs delink; from Ramadhan or any other thing that inversely and eventually falls to furtive agendas, disproportionate to seamless sheen of constructs and concepts aligned with them.
—Courtesy: Greater Kashmir

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