Decoding Kashmir’s language and politics

By Shubhrastha


[E]very revolt, protest and dissent acquires language of appropriation. Based on its individual politics, it chooses the symbols, tags, brands and names of comprehension and diffusion. The protests in the valley of Kashmir are one among the many similar yet different manifestations of clash between contending parties across the globe. This article seeks to investigate the politics and motives of appropriation and to calibrate a conclusive assessment of the status quo.

Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union. This assertion in the Indian Constitution has been upheld as a bone of contention for many. The history of Kashmir’s assimilation to the Indian nation state is considered as a cheated affair by some, the union government’s decision to not allow plebiscite despite an assurance earlier in the past are issues that clearly do not go down very well in the camp of the protestors.

Protest has many dimensions and forms. In Nadine Gordimer’s  My Son’s Story, the character Aila remains silent but a very powerful character. She uses silence as a political weapon to assert her individuality and later on emerges as a chief proponent of her latent yet passionate activism with much fanfare. The Kashmiri Pandits, who have remained, by and large, silent witnesses and participants to and in the conflict are an interesting group to explore.  How should their silence be read? How should their migration be read? Who defines their voice today? Who protests against their rights? Or are they subsumed in the collective conflict? If they are, on what grounds have their concerns been negotiated? Most importantly, do they have a say in what is the Kashmiri voice?

[pullquote]Only political will and a transparent realpolitik can seek to resolve the Kashmir issue. Mere official handshakes to decide a non-official historical and historicized situation can do nothing but make the wound in the valley fester.[/pullquote]Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thakeray’s death invites mass silence in Mumbai. Was it raw power or fear? Was it respect or a mere avoidance of trouble by many to remain silent? If Kashmir remains silent for a couple of days, is it because things are normal or people choosing to do so deliberately? If no, there is politics behind the pain of silence. Who would decipher that? The government or the ‘Kashmiri voice’? What is constitutional and legal is calibrated through well-defined laws that sadly earmark any geographical entity’s existence today.

Right to protest is a constitutional right in India. Language of dissent should ideally involve dialogue and not bullets. Here the nation can be reminded of Tibet where the Chinese government stands absolutely helpless as millions of Tibetans immolate themselves in fire after every few days. This is yet another manifestation of silent protest where the state becomes helpless but to notice what’s going on.

Only political will and a transparent realpolitik can seek to resolve the Kashmir issue. Mere official handshakes to decide a non-official historical and historicized situation can do nothing but make the wound in the valley fester.

Two things. Firstly, there is a problem. And this needs to be recognized. The sooner the government at the center realizes and acts upon, the better it shall be. And secondly, not force but only a democratic process can deal with this situation. No amount of violence at any level and from any side would lead to peace and stability.

The views and comments are authors own. It doesn’t represent the editorial policy of The Kashmir Walla.

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