Kashmir: Divide and Rule

Views from Srinagar

Amin Sofi

WHERE plurality is passé and polarized polity is the new mantra, how does one describe a political formation, a party, an outfit whose single most purpose of being into politics is to win elections, never mind the tools and methods being employed in the fulfillment of this goal as its raison d’être? With its gaze now firmly fixed on 2019, the party at the helm now seems to be pulling no punches in ensuring a repeat of the UP miracle at the hustings, using all the tricks in the trade to that end. The effortless ease with which it has been using the communal card ever since its initial forays into electoral politics decades ago redounds to its credit as a cabal of politicians who have perfected themselves in the art of duplicity and chicanery.
Its uncommon ability to exploit and ‘milk’, the fault lines in the matrix of social/religious/caste-based groups in India to advance its divisive agenda is already beginning to find expression in the manner the largest religious minority in the country is being sidelined, demonized and subjected to persecution, both at the physical as well as the economic front.
The latest tool in its kitty as conceived by its spin doctors is the ever-on-boil Kashmir which is now being presented by them to the country and the rest of the world as a place being inhabited by uncouth, uncivilized brutes who have no use for good sense, education, development etc., and who are merely being used by the neighbor next door as pawns in the fulfillment of the latter’s ‘holy’ mission of ‘bleeding India with a thousand cuts’.
In propagating and perpetuating what is out and out a myth about Kashmir as ‘divine truth’, the credit must surely go to the assorted TV channels who have meekly acquiesced in to the strong arm tactics by the ruling establishment. How else would one account for the fate of those celebrated TV anchors who had the temerity to also bring in a modicum of ‘hard reality’ of the Kashmir problem to the table involving its historical context, with the latest act of witch-hunt involving the CBI raid at the house and the office premises of Prannoy Roy of NDTV. Now with the arrival of the institution of army on the political chess board of India, the nation bids fair to be in for a long haul of internal strife which is going to be witnessed in the form of inter religious and inter caste tensions on the one hand and an escalation of violence in Kashmir on the other. That may not be dismissed as the prediction of prophets of doom, but ought to be located in the subtext of an open and candid interaction the chief of army staff had recently with the press.
The dangerous portends lurking behind these public pronouncements should be unmistakably clear.
The army chief’s utterances involving the situation in Kashmir betray the understanding of one who has come to hold this most coveted position in the Indian military establishment for none of his faults, literally! The chief merit that has caused the political establishment to supersede him over others is obviously his proximity to the right-wing fringe and its divisive-ideology-inspired government at the centre.
Out of a whole lot of things, a couple of noises he has made during the interaction on the situation in Kashmir merit a brief mention. While on the one hand, he says that it is ‘dirty war’ in Kashmir which has to be fought by employing innovative methods, in the same breath he goes on to say that the army has to conduct itself in a manner that should inspire fear of its fire power in the people. He doesn’t seem to understand the far reaching implications of these utterances which – it doesn’t take rocket science to understand – can and will lead to a further escalation of tension and mayhem in the Valley, much ofcourse to the comfort of those who wish the present situation to continue to remain on the boil, till at least they harvest it at the hustings in 2019, and even after. Whipping up communal frenzy and raising the pitch on Kashmir have been among the most dependable ploys being employed by the saffron brigade and its avatars in the present ruling establishment to garner votes in the name of religion which unfortunately continues to sell in the country called India.
Back to what are doomed to turn out to be ‘foot-in-the-mouth’ comments by the army chief as stated above.
Firstly, the ‘dirty’ war that he is talking about, he must understand, has been made that much dirtier by the dirty tricks armed forces have been playing in Kashmir over a long period of time without remorse or compunction.
He doesn’t seem to understand that war is always dirty, regardless of whether it is fought on the borders or against the hapless civilians living in civilian areas. He may not know it but those who are on the receiving end of this gratuitous violence know it better that there cannot be anything dirtier, more vicious and loathsome than war.
Secondly, he is being extremely disingenuous while claiming that ‘the army should inspire awe and fear in the camp of the adversaries and at the same time people should of afraid of you’.
He goes on to say that the common man who is not indulging in violence should be protected and left out of the harm’s way while the army is on its ‘awe-inspiring’ mission. Come on Gen, tell us who is this Farooq Ahmed Dar who you had volubly endorsed to be strapped to a jeep as a human shield by rewarding his tormentor, this army major Gogoi who has in the process committed the most heinous violation of all norms of decency and civilized behavior as guaranteed under law? You know it full well that in the midst of an over-the-board unwillingness of the people to stay away from the “sham of polls” which were being conducted at that point in time, this boy had taken the risk of going all the way to cast his vote which you and your masters would have tom-tommed as a ‘will of the people of Kashmir to restore credibility to the farce that you call elections’.
More pertinently, your own sources should have informed you that he was not part of a mob of stone throwers who, according to credible sources were too few to have caused serious threat to the law and order in the area and thus to have warranted such an unconscionable and abominable treatment being meted out to this man.
Truth, you know, has only one version whereas falsehood which gets lost in the maze of cooked up versions finds no legs to stand upon. Which is why you have a litany of theories being invented by lackeys including subordinate news channels justifying the dastardly act by variously quoting the number of ‘blood thirsty’ stone pelters varying from 200 to 1200 in that area.
As another example of fancy for falsehood, you aver that the turmoil in the valley is restricted to five districts only while in the same breath you say you are face to face with a war like situation in Kashmir. How do you reconcile these two dichotomous possibilities in your assessment of the situation in Kashmir? You are getting it completely wrong.
As if all that you have said is not enough, you make no boons of your visceral hatred for a certain section of ‘your’ society when you make the most outrageous pronouncement yet: ‘I wish the stone pelters were using weapons instead of stones’! The obvious implication of this very pernicious streak of thought is that you wish to have ‘reasons’ to immortalize yourself by doing a Gen Dyer of the Jalian Wala Bagh infamy in Kashmir and thus seal your name in the annals of history… as I don’t know what.
In the long run, the country stands to lose every which way is beyond a shred of doubt, what with resorting to tactics which are divisive and solely aimed at ‘teaching certain sections of the society a lesson’ for the sin of asking for something as routine as the right to live their lives peacefully. These are the ineluctable lessons of history which just can’t be wished away, however one might wish otherwise. aminsofi@gmail.com

—Courtesy: Rising Kashmir

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