AFTER successfully terminating the practice of hoisting Tri-colour-the national flag-in Lal Chowk Srinagar, the ruling elite of Kashmir has turned its guns towards elimination of all other remaining symbols of resistance that ensured down fall of terrorist movement in Kashmir tagged as “Azadi”.
Hoisting of national flag in Lal Chowk, it must be recalled was started to make obvious the assertion of Indian state in an area that insurgents used to claim their supremacy by unfurling Pakistani flags every now and then. Brave soldiers of India hailing from all parts of the country, tore apart the backbone of the terrorists’ movement at a huge cost. In spite of all handicaps and restrictions imposed by power hungry politicians, security forces were able to neutralise the entire terror network, which at one point of time, was otherwise bold enough to strike at will and at the places of their choice. Those initial days of terror may be behind us, but can neither be elapsed nor overlooked. Keeping national highway open was a challenge then. Indian state, controlled by people with a pathological hatred for nationalist sentiment, responded half-heartedly to the threats emanating from Kashmir.
Political backing badly needed to counter proxy war unleashed by Pakistan against India, was not forthcoming. Politicians in New Delhi were instead busy in scoring brownie points. Just recall the drama enacted by late Rajiv Gandhi in Srinagar over protocol issue when he visited the State as part of All Party Delegation. Separatist tendency in Valley was and is being rewarded continuously.
Credit goes to nationalists who did not loose hope nor did they scale down their efforts. Every possible way was explored and a sustained multi-pronged strategy was adopted with astonishing endurance. Societal contact with land and people of Kashmir was continued without break and that too at great risk to personal life. Some elements within nationalist ranks with a myopic vision tried to dub these actions as compromise with Indian interests. But in the long run the effort proved to be immensely effective. Similarly public opinion was mobilised to pressurise Government of India to act in the required manner.
Continuance of Darbar move, Ekta Yatra, Amarnath Yatra, Khir Bhawani Yatra, trade and commerce, travels tours were some ways in which the above objective was achieved. Protests, seminars, and publications of material and massive mass awareness campaigns to let the truth reach right quarter was also undertaken on an unprecedented scale. Counter insurgency measures were result of this sustained effort on the part of nationalists. It was an amazing use of soft power of Indian nation. The height of terrorist violence was natural consequence. This in turn led to dwindling support and later opposition to merchants of destruction from within the Muslim majority of Kashmir. Muslim youth of Kashmir, particularly women were quick to see the real face of jehadis. It was very clear to Muslim masses of Kashmir that armed separatism was an opportunist movement by politically ambitious people who were taking advantage of the misdeeds of the ruling elite. Local rulers, who were actually responsible for deteriorating state of affairs, were prompt in changing the direction of public anger towards Indian nation in the name of Islam. Young Kashmiri Muslim boys and girls who joined the movement on the height of an emotional upsurge were horrified on seeing things across the border. Created impression disappeared and was replaced by harsh realities Kukka Parrey and Ikhwani chapter was the outcome of this bad experience of the youth of Kashmir. Those who had been lured to jehad with utopian dreams of “liberation” turned the tide against scoundrels, marauders and scamsters. Elections and installation of an elected government was result of their hard work.
Ruling elite of Kashmir, who from the very beginning have protected their position of privilege and prestige by acting as commission agents, were quick to anticipate a danger to their forte. Soon a campaign to malign these counter insurgents was launched on a large scale. Over ground workers and sympathisers of separatists leaked sensitive official information to gunmen to physically eliminate any potential threat. It was in a way of worst repetition of Sheikh Abdulla’s ‘Tark-e-Mawalat’ (social boycott). But this time the common man was wise enough to see through the game. Support for violence was never forthcoming again.
Displaced community of Kashmiri Hindus has always been targeted for representing non-Islamic part of Kashmir and in that sense being symbol of “ancient civilisation and present nationhood” of India. Return of the community back to Kashmir is, therefore, defeat of the effort of separatists and Pakistan. Ruling elite of Kashmir has been misusing its position for thwarting every possibility of an early return of the exiles in order to please separatists and gun wielding terrorists. But being image-conscious these vultures are not ready to accept the blame for subverting return and rehabilitation process. They on one side want jehadis and separatists to believe that they are doing their job, on the other hand they want to be entertained as icons of secularism in rest of the country. Thus they found a way out in presenting the return module in such a language as was bound to be rejected by the traumatised community. It emerged as an effective tool in the hands of local rulers to deny KPs birthright to live in their homeland and at the same time the victimised community got the blame for being reluctant to return to Kashmir.
It is with this background that one needs to see the efforts of nationalist forces changing their strategy. That is why community has stopped rejecting any move, half-hearted or “otherwise” of the government out rightly. Declarations from government are now welcomed instead and community is demonstrating its readiness to discuss possible ways to make return possible in real sense. Government under pressure from the ruling elite and separatist forces has got perplexed and is still managing to invent novel ways to dodge the community. New methods are invented to subvert the possibility of return. Displaced families are tortured emotionally and psychologically by insensitive administrational orders. Discredited and greedy elements within the displaced people have been engaged as foot soldiers to break the united response by raising absurd questions. Shree Amarnath Shrine Board is being pressurised to curtail the duration of Yatra. Every effort is being put in to stop common people of Kashmir from coming closer to rest of India and Indians from other states.
But will this last long? We know har kamaal rah zawaal ast. (Every dark night has to end in a pretty good morning). So will be our sufferings. It will end. It has to stop.
Kashmir will once again be a paradise on earth. Iqbal a son of the Soil in his earlier days was right when he said “Kuch baat hai ki hastee mittee nahin hamaree; sadyoon raha hai dushman daurey zaman hamara”.
(Writer is the President of NCR Chapter of Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch)