Of New Age Gullivers

By Hilal Mir

An article titled “In response to Mridu Rai” but aimed at, as the author says, exposing “the blatant irony in how leftist ideologues and journalists, from the convenience of their jobs and professional lives, cheer on the poor man’s son in Kashmir to his grave”, seems at cross purposes with itself.

Anyways, let us attempt a syllogism derivative of another rant, taking the premises from author’s definition of anarchists and anarchy, which I presume he refers to the five months of uprising during the past summer and, as he wrote in his previous article, the entire “so-called struggle”.

Stone throwing is anarchy

Sons of poor masons are stone throwers

Therefore, sons of poor masons are anarchists.

But we have no Bakunins or Chomskys here. Rather than conscious, self-aware, discerning anarchist, poor man’s son in Kashmir is a walking powder keg waiting for a spark, an illiterate automaton crazy to the degree that cheerleading by Arundhati Roy, armchair leftists and mainstream journalists gives him a kick so high that he embraces death. He is not aware of his political condition or responds to upheavals in his surroundings but is waiting for agent provocateur Arundhati Roy to instigate him.

Such a reading of youths at the forefront of resistance can only be laughed at. Only a mind dyed in elitism can condescend to look at hundreds of thousands of youths with such contempt clothed as dubious pity.

A bad writer I was told by one of my teachers contradicts in the last pages of the book what he has written in the first. The author doesn’t take long. Only two paragraphs down the article he says that it is understandable that “mobs driven by emotion” react in a certain way but when armchair leftists and mainstream journalists from the safety of their positions do so, it amounts to crass hypocrisy. Here we are caught in a dilemma. Do the supporters of stone throwing sin because they support an enraged teenager throwing stones for his rights or they sin because they provoke the teenager to throw stones in the first place? It is not clear from the author’s article, but I presume he meant the former.

And if that is so, I can safely declare that armchair leftists are sinning on the right side of the fence. For example, veteran National Conference leader and member of Indian parliament, Muhammad Shafi Uri, recently said at a seminar in New Delhi that he asked a top police officer how many deaths were avoidable during the summer intifada. Uri said the official told him 60 per cent. Which means, by official admission, 60 per cent of shining ‘poor masons’ and tailors’ sons were murdered. Now, in the present scheme of things, the chief minister of the state presides over the largest internal security grid in the world called United Headquarters and therefore cannot escape the responsibility for these deaths. But Junaid, says, “Being fair to my conscience, I also chose to speak up publicly against a very dear friend – accusing him of political incompetence and procrastination in dealing with the blood-soaked agitation we have now apparently put in seasonal abeyance till June next year.” But was it merely incompetence and procrastination?

Besides, the author says, “I have no love lost for India as a State that holds on to Kashmir by sheer military force. I have publicly spoken up unequivocally against a never-ending passive genocide of Kashmiri men and women, against the disproportionate use of brutal force, against a State government that is subservient to the Ministry of Home in Delhi.”

This is where armchair leftists stand apart. Once you are aware of the fact that the “very dear friend” is the electoral face of “sheer military force” in Kashmir and the “man and his disciple” and lakhs of their supporters those who oppose this “sheer military force”, who do you choose. Armchair leftists choose the anarchists. Give the son of poor man a choice: will he choose to throw stones and fight for his rights or enter into a public private partnership with Omar Abdullah and then see what he chooses.

The emotional appeal to the concerns of poor mason’s and tailor’s son is sufficiently stale now. It has been the staple of government propaganda for the past the past 20 years. You are adding nothing new here. The son of poor man is the immediate recipient of state violence and hence the first to react to it. He votes “the very dear friend” to power for deliverance from this violence, but the “very dear friend” fails him miserably. He tries a demonstration, but is not allowed one. So he throws stones. People who find this simple fact hard to digest must only be driven by a pathology.

I once heard a prominent Imam in a mosque quoting a Hadith, in which The Prophet (PBUH) says, “If a Muslim in the East is hurt, a true Mumin is one who feels the pain in the West.” How heartening, and at the same time saddening, to know that ‘infidel’ leftists empathise with a stone thrower while the contrarians who have drunk from the wells of religio-political ethos of the Kashmiri nation find the deaths of stone throwers as the wages of anarchy. Not to speak of the absurdity and monumental foolishness of labelling a stone thrower a menace and victim in the same breath.

Also a curious condition is being set by a new brand of contrarians who find stone throwing anarchy, a menace, savagery and fascism. They make it obligatory for anyone who sympathises with a stone thrower to become one to prove his/her sincerity. By this reasoning, such contrarians should not be merely denouncing stone throwers in newspaper articles, but actually fighting on the side of police and paramilitary soldiers. After all why should a poor Kashmiri villager’s son or a marginalised tribal get wounded fighting the stone throwing anarchists on streets.

One can go on forever dissecting the “response to Mridu Rai” but only at the risk of banging one’s head into a wall of a curious politics, which is aimed at “building the nation” by asking the prospective citizens of that nation to forget their rights and accept the constructed reality, that is, the dominance of a nation which is “holding them by sheer military force”. Phew! Only if contrarians were brave enough to declare what palpitates in their hearts—Kashmiris, surrender and let us have a party with Muftis and Abdullahs and the Collaborators Inc.

It is said that when Lemuel Gulliver returned to England from his travels to Lilliput and Blefuscu, he roamed on the streets imagining himself to be a giant still walking the lands of those tiny races, make awkward movements in the middle of the road upon seeing a horse carriage as if he was trying to avoid trampling it, until the coachman’s whip will crack across his face and bring him to senses. New age Gullivers better walk on the pavement.

Hilal Mir is a journalist.

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