On 9th February, 2016, JNU Students had organized protests, on the third death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Muhammad Afzal Guru, marked by anti India slogans. Pertinent to mention these anti-India slogans were raised by Kashmiri Muslims, who were neither students nor teachers at JNU. Reams of news print, thousands of gibabytes and cacophonous TV studio deliberated upon this ROW. Three people, who had organized the event, were arrested as well but not even a single Kashmiri, those who had raised slogans were arrested. In my view neither sloganeering entailed any arrests nor such an issue should have created to such a furore, but it was all due to relentless campaigning from our social media warriors , incident was able to ‘Seize’ the whole nation. In a democracy, such protests or slogans should be acceptable. After one year, noise has settled, but it’s an opportune time to look back and try to explore if the events at JNU can assist us to unveil the different shades of Kashmir conflict.
The notable slogan in the JNU row, which actually led to furore was ‘Bharat ke Bharbahdi tak’, till the destruction of India, in fact left liberal, who champion right of self-determination of Kashmir also distanced themselves from it. But this is not a mere slogan, if we go deeper; this slogan reflects the genesis of Kashmir conflict i.e. hatred towards India. Kashmir conflict is cocktail of several ingredients, but for me, one of the most important elements of this conflict is a visceral hatred for India. The inherited legacy of this hatred lies in two nation theory, where in Muslim subjects by virtue of sequence of events unfolding in contested princely state of Jammu & Kashmir, had to accede to India. Though our left leaning ‘Kashmir experts’ or spin doctors from Kashmir, attribute this hatred due to human rights violations committed by security forces while quelling armed Islamic insurgency, in last 3 decades, but that’s not the truth, even prior to 1989- when armed Islamic Insurgency erupted- Kashmir harboured deep abhorrence towards India,mind you, we are talking of era, when not even a shadow of security forces could be seen in Kashmir. This might seems far-fetched but I sometimes believe cry for Azaadi in Kashmir has to do more with hatred towards India than love for secession.
Left’s bizarre position
JNU being left bastion, and this whole saga threw a complex relationship Kashmir has with with Leftists, exposing their Ideological inconsistencies. Isn’t it utterly bizarre they support Islamic separatism of Kashmir but ferociously oppose Hindu Nationalism? How is one better than other? They tend to either condone or obfuscate the Islamic character of Kashmir’s separatism, and project it as utopian desire of Independence. Even a naïve with no knowledge of politics or sociology can decipher the broad contours of Azaadi narrative in Kashmir. The signs of Islamisation of Azaadi project in Kashmir are ubiquitous, be it slogans, be it use of religion’s symbols or reverence towards armed Islamic insurgents , locally hailed as ‘mujahids’ or the whole canvas of the movement, but I wonder why it doesn’t catch the attention of our left liberals. Unconditional support to Islamic separatism in Kashmir while opposing Hindu Nationalism in rest of India, to me is not only bizarre but bereft of any logic or explanation.
Several Kashmiri writers, based out of Kashmir or elsewhere, wrote numerous pieces as how this incident represents the quelling of dissent. To me, that’s a valid point but the paradoxical irony is same people who lament the demise of dissent in India, either condone or are part of nexus which notoriously kills dissent in valley. Most of these writers, as it is common knowledge are passionate supporters of ‘Azaadi’ and any questioning the very narrative of Azaadi in Kashmir is dubbed as Collaborator, a derogatory word in the lexicon of Kashmir discourse. This paradox of advocating dissent for others while being in forefront to kill it reminds me an era of imperialism, wherein the imperialist powers would promote freedom of speech at ‘home’ but stifle in their colonial states.
As shared earlier, I strongly oppose arrests of anyone for sloganeering but given the attention this event had received, one would have expected arrest of sloganeering crowd. Those who were privy to the sequence of events knew, who all were raising slogans and have not been arrested till this day. Not arresting them had to do with saving BJP’s possible coalition with Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, as arresting Kashmiri’s in Delhi would have jeopardized ( hyperlinked) the alliance. This incident – of saving coalition – is not just a convenience of political expediency but is representative of larger arc, under which the Srinagar has managed Delhi for Decades now. It has been for years, by spin doctors of Kashmir and it’s sympathizer in Delhi made us believe that it’s Delhi which manages Kashmir, on the contrary its Kashmir which knows how to manage and extract pounds( read funds) from Delhi. If one reads history of Kashmir,post 1947, events will testify , no matter who was ruling at the centre, Srinagar had sway always had sway and paradoxically , separatism is/ was an important armour in this tool of managing Delhi.