Dehumanizing the Demon in Kashmir

J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik has spoken yet again, adding to his ever long list of statements ever since he took the oath of office. And this time too, as in the past, every media house has reported his statement as convenient to their agenda. This time, Governor Malik has posed a serious allegation on the country, that of ‘deliberately demonizing the state of Jammu & Kashmir.” Speaking at an event, Governor Malik blamed the ‘negative & biased approach at the national level’ for becoming a big problem for the state.

He even tried to draw parallels between the situation in Kashmir and that in his village as he said that even five-six deaths daily in his village did not become news while even a single death in Kashmir becomes headline in Delhi. He said, “It is basically demonizing of the state which is very unfortunate.” As always, the Governor seems to have a clear agenda, which sees him heading in a diametrically opposite direction to the public discourse on Kashmir, which necessarily, may not be a wrong thing to do. But it seems the gun is pointed into a different direction this time.

One may blame the previous dispensations in the Centre for the cesspool that Kashmir has become today, but is it entirely of their making? I don’t think so. Kashmir had always been a bone of contention between the two states of India and Pakistan, even before the partition raised its ugly head and ate up most of sanity in the sub-continent. After 1947, things turned from bad to worse, first gradually, then faster ever since the late 80’s and early 90’s. That is all in public domain and doesn’t require rocket science to understand. The erstwhile regimes in New Delhi may also be accused of not realizing the potential of a seemingly regular dispute in Kashmir regarding the “Indian occupation” to snowball into a tragedy of Macbethian standards. But not all of it is of the making of the Centre. Some of the (dis)-credit needs to be shared by the Kashmiri separatists too, as well as the local majority community, which keeps listening to the bullshit pedaled by these separatist leaders even to this day.

As the famous proverb goes “Taaliekhaath se nahibajti”, same holds true for the situation in Kashmir today, ever since it was kept festering during the 80’s. Somehow Governor Malik remains oblivious to the contribution of local Kashmiris to the problem, especially the hardliners, who really dreamt that they could get their ‘azaadi’ someday soon. It was these hardliners who welcomed foreign terrorists with open arms, garlands, logistic support, homestays, local information and what not, during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been so easy for the foreign mercenaries to get ‘settled’ into the Valley with such alacrity and carry out their nefarious designs. There are videos, photographs, public accounts in local dailies, to prove that the majority community bought into the dream of azaadi so easily.

The minorities were left with little or no role in festering the messy situation, where a small digression could be deemed as a major betrayal. No wonder then that the members of the minority community, especially Kashmiri Hindus, began to get targeted for seemingly no fault of theirs. Or maybe the fault lies with them too! Why did they need to wear their tag of nationalism on their sleeves? Why couldn’t they, just like the rest of Kashmiris, continue to hide their love for the motherland inside their pherans, hidden from the public view? That would have saved them some more years in the heaven and their lives, perhaps. Nevertheless, starting somewhere between 1989 and 1990, things took a turn for the worse for Kashmir with Kashmiri Pandits eventually being hounded out of their homes and being forced to find new homes inside the canvas tents put up hurriedly in the dusty plains right from Udhampur to Jammu city.

Years ago, when I visited Kashmir for the first time after a gap of 14 years, which saw mindless killings of people belonging to either end of the spectrum, we took a boat ride on the Dal. The young boy (must have been 16 or 17) was intrigued by the fact that we were Kashmiri Pandits. He said, quite matter-of-factly, that he didn’t remember anything about Pandits or their lives in the Valley. The only thing he remembered, that too very vaguely, was the ‘tahar’ or yellow-colored rice offering distributed at one of the temples in his locality, which he may have eaten as a toddler. I wasn’t really shocked to hear that or seriously affected. Probably because I was born and brought up in Jammu city and had not borne the brunt of exodus, just witnessed it from a close quarter. But years later, now, when I recall that conversation, I cannot help but draw a parallel with another tragedy that unfolded in Gujarat in 2002, about a decade after the Kashmir exodus. I could not help but wonder does the majority community in Gujarat hold the same views regarding the minority community in their state, as that young boy in 2014? No, I think! But still 2002 is the great tragedy and 1990 has receded into public amnesia.

So, Governor Saheb! If you really want to point finger, point it in the right direction! The Centre may have contributed to the Kashmir mess but it is entirely of the making of the people of Kashmir. They cannot escape the blame at all. And beyond that, your focus of ire should be the national media, which still cannot see beyond Kashmir when it comes to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The ever-peaceful Jammu and Ladakh, that region of harsh mountainous terrain,continue being ignored in the wake of the Valley. You, Mr. Governor, should probably focus on correcting that imbalance before that becomes a big problem too! The demon lies in the Valley, not in New Delhi! Stop humanizing it.

Leave a Reply