By Sarthak Maggon
[L]et the dark days of violence and conflict be left behind and a let a new dawn emerge, ” these were the reassuring words of President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, which I hate to admit do not as much as seem to me as anything more than an empty promise, a void, a falsity, a rhetoric that solves no purpose but a political one.
At the very outset, one very essential question that most of forget to answer before we give a commentary on an issue is who we are. Do we have a locus standi ? Are we stakeholders? It’s only when the answers are in the affirmative that I possess the right, the right to an opinion. I do. I am not a Kashmiri, I have never even been to Kashmir. I am a student of law and I could have chosen to give you a critique on an unfair legislation, a potentially misused legal doctrine or just the failure of the Kashmir assembly to dispense anything close to real justice, an obligation they owed to the people. But before that, it’s my prerogative to give you a reason to read it.
When I was in the fourth grade, I was introduced to phrases like ‘from Kashmir to Kanyakumari’, ‘heaven on Earth’, the northernmost state of India, ‘the land of Kashyap’. Two years later, in the winter of 2005, we went from door to door collecting funds for victims of the earthquake because as my teacher told me “In times of need, as Indians it’s our responsibility to take care of members of our own family”. History lectures began, and we were exposed to the realities of territorial disputes, a situation which was referred to as ‘volatile’, the circumstances which were not as peaceful as I had imagined heaven would be, after all there is no bloodshed in heaven, it’s only beauty in its purest form.
But the image was etched in my memory reel. From the very formative years of my life, I was raised in an environment where the picture of Kashmir was painted as that of a sibling which needed much more attention, much more love. Discrimination existed, not from the other siblings but from the parent. Kashmir has still not achieved what it deserved, but should the parallelism be drawn with the situation in Assam, it’s disheartening to know that the sentiment advanced by the people of India has been rejected. The onus is on me to establish that relationship, that link which leads from you to me and back. All I’m asking for, is you to reciprocate.
The moot question then arises, ‘Where are we going wrong?’. We’re failing ourselves on the sole ground of falling prey to the conjecture between the rationality of emotion and the emotional grounding of rationality. I am not a staunch believer in the concept of emotion, but the existing distrust is largely dependent upon how the government, which by virtue of its status stands as a representative to the common man’s thought, reacts to the solution to Kashmir. So the question inevitably paraphrases to ‘where the government is going wrong?’. As soon as the government blames the victims and not the perpetrators of violence, it stands in opposition to its own population. Just like a parent is entitled to chide his child for a wrong, so does the state, but the parent always stands beside him in times of confrontation, the exact area where the Centre has failed to show any activism.
[pullquote]Amidst the growing separatist agitation through the expanse of India, diversity changing face from our biggest strength to our biggest weakness and the ontology of trust deficit at various levels in the geography of India, what is of paramount importance is to renew the lost faith, to rekindle the lost hope and to reignite the power of a united India in which people would have right to demand what they want.[/pullquote]When Omar Abdullah blames militants, media, people and the coalition for the disasters in Kashmir, the foundational fact remains that he is vicariously answerable for the actions of all these groups which merely aid in the functioning of a State which he runs. One gets angry to save face, not only in other people’s eyes but in its own eyes as well and this anger dissipates a question on the self worth. A lot of people ask the question, why not let go of Kashmir? Why not give the people a right to self determination? Why not have a plebiscite? I was forced to ponder on whether one could gain the same ends by pretending and by acting as if he or she has the emotion in question without, in fact, having it at all? With easily gullible and hypersensitive targets, the answer is in the affirmative. That in itself raises a crucial point about the politics that emotions play since it is the convincing display of expression, rather than what might be called emotion itself, that is doing the work. A right exercised under influence and especially that of pretension is no right at all.
My sole purpose for this article is not to criticize the governmental inaction, the aggression in domiciled Kashmiris or the international dormancy, but to highlight the failure of the citizens to show pragmatism. Wisdom lies in sharing the blame, not shifting it. Let this not be a bond of convenience but a relationship of choice. Amidst the growing separatist agitation through the expanse of India, diversity changing face from our biggest strength to our biggest weakness and the ontology of trust deficit at various levels in the geography of India, what is of paramount importance is to renew the lost faith, to rekindle the lost hope and to reignite the power of a united India in which people would have right to demand what they want. And in case of Kashmir they would be allowed to decide their fate.
Jean Paul Sartre concludes my thoughts in the most appropriate words: “We can no longer live in so urgent and difficult a world. However, we must act. So we try to change the world as if by magic.”