By Shuja Malik
Response to the preposterous and obnoxious write-up of Mr. Basharat Ali about the cancellation of Harud. The original article can be read at “They Brought Harud to My Voice“.
Truthfully speaking I am not able to figure out how to start my response because the last lines of your write up have rattled me but still I read them repeatedly and repeatedly to convince myself that what I had read initially is what is actually written there. I hope you understand the meaning, the impact of calling your mother/motherland a prostitute and of such a derogatory and disgusting language even if it is used to portray the agony. I won’t think of even using such language to express what our oppressor or worst opponent does to us. For sake of scoring points over our opponents I can’t abuse my mother/motherland. Even if someone does practically what you talk of I won’t dare to say. I shudder and shiver at the thought and imagination of what you talk. You might say ‘truth is bitter’ which indeed is but truth even when expressed in simplest of language generates same impact. You need not to colorize it. So hope you at least feel apologetic to your conscience for having used such language. God bless you and guide you to better!
Now your grievance is about the cancellation of the festival is that you won’t be able to discuss human rights violations, killings, disappearances, rapes, torture and mass graves. I am one of the 200 (actually 213) you lost it to. Hearing this from you that these things were to be discussed in the festival I also think it is a real loss to us. But I believed what the chief organizer Namitha Gokhale had to say that this event is going to be ‘apolitical’. And what we 213 did was try to seek explanation over what this ‘apolitical’ means and what actually would be discussed in this event. We got a very vague reply and we asked for some more explanations and were waiting for a reply but astonishingly they decided to run away. This cancellation only meant that there was something fishy with the whole process and for the purpose of hiding what they didn’t want to reveal and what we were asking, the organizers chose to escape.
So Mr. Basharat what is our fault that you call us pimps or even think of us as incestuous? Our fault is we wanted greater transparency in the organization of this festival. If people in New York and London refused to attend they gave sound reasons. I remember Basharat Peer saying that he would prefer reading to jailed youth than to read in this festival. What would you prefer? Will our state allow that? Or you subscribe to the thought that the people who are in jails are the spoiled ones, the drugged ones, the one who are paid for the ‘jobs’ they have been jailed for so why to bother about them? And if I go with your assertion that you were planning to talk HR violations to the audience do you really believe that they don’t know about it? So doesn’t it merely look symbolic.
If your real grievance is the lost opportunity to talk about these things I think then you need to change the priorities of your own organization of which you happen to be the director in the order in which they are mentioned in the purpose. The first two purposes of your organization read as (a) To support the peaceful resolution of dispute of Jammu and Kashmir and (b)To uphold the basic human rights under the UDHR, Convention & Protocols of United Nation. What has been the contribution of your organization for upholding human rights in Kashmir? Organizing one conference in Delhi and one in Jammu? 30th August is observed as ‘The International Day of Disappeared’. This has a relation to the MASS GRAVES (sic) that you highlight in your write up. What did you and your organization do on that day?
A line in one of your posts on the Facebook page of your group reads “Be part of the policy making.” What has been the contribution to policy making? Because till now the only visible policies of state in Kashmir have been obfuscation of justice. My concern as a member of opposition to this festival was this wide gap between what is being practized in Kashmir and what this festival will present. The need in Kashmir is not for these festivals were we present ourselves before an audience just for the heck of the festival and this audience already knows what you are going to talk. But there is a need for a change in basic policies that will give a fundamental freedom of expression to the people of all political ideologies. This can’t occur in a symbolic event in the confines of an institution whose own ideology and credibility is now becoming a source of concern.
The other grievance that seems to be bothering you is that you lost a chance to learn. Truely few things might have been learnt but crash courses are never beneficial.One needs to first learn the fundamentals. Looking from the language you have used for someones mother I suggest you to go back to your parents and let them know that you have talked like this and get some lessons of decency. For a moment I would have feared of getting abused by you for telling you these things bluntly but you have already reached the threshold. And if you want to learn about literature or whatever you expected to learn in this festival you can learn from many members of this group who conspired to deprive you of this opportunity. They are not ill educated rather they will teach you decency which you are in urgent need of. They will teach you transparency and honesty which the organizers of this festival lacked. So it will be a overall learning process.
Now to the learning process which you think would have got augmented. For that again we need to visit policies of the state and hope you have certain thoughts about ‘policy making’ on this front. I hope through your organization you impress upon the state to change its policy of curbing the freedom of expression of University students, stop arresting students for showing dissent towards a cultural fest in medical college that they felt was not morally acceptable or stop the private security of university from spying on students activities.One literary festival isn’t going to change anything. It will merely symbolize something that has been in reality uprooted from Kashmir.
A parting advice/suggestion (although I doubt these words exist in your dictionary) that you claim to represent a youth organization and should serve as a role model for your co-workers and for the people you work with. Disagreement with elders shouldn’t let you go ballistic. There are other ways of talking and approaching. If you are really concerned about ‘your Kashmir’ why haven’t you responded to any of such violation of opportunity till now. Because in our Kashmir many people have been denied the opportunity to live. Why has this passion been absent if Kashmir is my Kashmir in real sense?
The cancellation of this festival has not brought Harud to your voice but perhaps to your thinking or something else. Your organization is a big mode of voice for you if you in real sense want to raise your voice against these things.If you can organize conference for HR awareness in Jammu and Delhi you can also highlight these HR violations through these conferences. That will be more effective and purposeful. It needs to be addressed to those who don’t know of these things. Talking of HR violations to Kashmiris looks like teaching swimming to a duck. Now spare the duck and don’t accuse me of being a bestial.
Shuja Malik is a Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Kansas. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.