The 106-day shutdown

Views from Srinagar

Nasir Ahmad

THE dust seems to be settling down after a bloody unrest triggered by the killing of Burhan Wani. The turbulence that left gruesome trail of death and destruction added fresh chapters of bloodshed to Kashmir history and was marked with a record shutdown of over 100 days. The din is waning and it may be matter of days when complete normalcy returns to Kashmir; at least till the next bout commences.
Looking back at the 100 tumultuous days, I am disposed to believe that this unending phase of shutdown was a predetermined affair.
Collateral damage, whatsoever in executing the plan is a wishful welcome bonus when damage occurs in Kashmir. People witnessed a systematic persecution by forces, which is slowly dying down after shutdown calendars became routine and Kashmiris started looking forward to them anticipating favorable results. It also appears that Hurriyat was treacherously trapped into the calendar business after the killing of Burhan Wani.
It seems to be a well thought plan to plunge the Valley in the deep gorge of economic destruction and educational disaster, particularly when we had recorded and exhibited a marvelous recovery from the catastrophe caused by 2014 floods without any substantial help from state or New Delhi.
It makes sense to think that a systemic perpetuation of unprecedented horror in the form of killing and blinding was aimed to set off the shutdowns at a time when we were on the start point of big leap towards the academic and the business sessions. It could also mean to encash additional bonus in the form of disenchantment of the masses with the Hurriyat which could consequently surface after continuing or even calling off the shutdowns at any point of time.
During the initial days of turmoil, armed forces unleashed a scourge: killing, blinding and injuring dozens of people on daily basis. It could not have been a coincidence that the turmoil overnight spread to nook and corner of Kashmir. Generally it was given to understand that the stone pelting or demonstrations ignited the devastating hyper-reaction from the security forces. But actually it was the other way round. Most of the stone pelting incidents and that of violence from the public of whatever intensity were actually a reaction to the brutalities of the armed forces.
Initially the shutdowns were spontaneous as forces were on relentless rampage. They killed and injured at whim as if fulfilling a commitment and a national duty. State government practically pleaded not guilty by issuing irrational statements occasionally and blaming people or Pakistan for all the trouble.
However the graph of the carnage showed a downward slide soon after shutdown calendars became a habit.
Was it a trap for the Hurriyat to get messed in the calendar imbroglio? Did the Hurriyat exhibit irresponsibility and immaturity to nibble at the bait and quickly swallow it?
With the onset of calendars, government forces initially upped the offensive with brutal killings and the hartal calendar looked an appropriate response.
However, as the shutdown calendars got entrenched and people habituated to wait for the weekly strike agenda, forces have started showing restraint.
Hurriyat was trapped and so were the people. Government promptly plugged the relaxation gaps if any left in the calendars, enforcing the lockdown during the time off in the shut downs and imposing announced and unannounced curfews alongside. With calendar becoming a habit and relaxations blocked, forces loosened the grip on the triggers, and began to look peaceful.
With Kashmir locked in the shutdown, and the noose of calendar placed firmly around the Hurriyat’s neck, the mission seems to be accomplished.
A full season of business, tourism and education is already down the drain, leaving people pondering! What next?
The lesson for the Hurriyat is to get rid of the nonstop shutdown business, sooner the better. If anything, even extraordinary becomes a habit, it seizes to be extraordinary.
There may be an occasional shutdown call, but every call of the shutdown must be accompanied by an advice for working extra two hours a day during the following week to make up for the loss due to strike. We have to show resentment towards the state policies.
But we must understand that not being able to lay our hands on adversary does not justify hurting our own selves. An economically strong and educationally efficient nation can put up a better resistance than a weak one. We must strive to make ourselves stronger and self-reliant in all spheres of life rather than choosing the path of self destruction.
There is s lesson for the people too. The current turmoil has completely exposed the mainstream parties and their worth. For decades they have been promising stars and moons to the people of Kashmir. It has been established beyond any doubt that they are incapable of doing any good to the people whenever they need them most. They even become partners in crime as brutalities are thrust on masses.
Mainstream political leaders are nothing but highly paid loyal employees of New Delhi. They continue to fool us and convince us through their fairy tales to queue up for them as they promise to do wonders for us in the assembly and the parliament. It is a very sad state of affairs that they always succeed as we allow ourselves to get fooled again and again. If they ever exhibit any desire to do something, New Delhi has enough power to cut them to size.
Further, to expect from the rest of India, particularly under the current dispensation, to show any remorse or concern over the situation is a misplaced notion.
It is high time that the separatist leadership faces hard realities and devises a strategy keeping the facts and ground situation in consideration with no place for emotions or ego. [email protected]

—Courtesy: RK

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