“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Javaid sees no light yet at the end of tunnel

(Mr. Javaid Malik, 37, was born in Srinagar. He did his schooling from the Burn Hall High School, and completed his 11th and 12th grades from the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. After his graduation from the Madras University, he completed his Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the Manipal University. Javaid has worked for various Srinagar based English language dailies since 2001. He joined the Greater Kashmir staff in 2005, and is now the Associate Editor.)

KASHMIR AT A CROSSROADS

Kashmir has been on the boil for the past six weeks. Kashmiris have been witnessing killings, strikes and curfews and there seems to be no end to it. It seems this time Kashmiris have decided that it is now or never for them. The common perception that seems to prevail among the masses is that let their fate be decided once for all. They are ready to go to any extent for achieving Azadi.

The determination and the courage shown by the people has once again proven that the sentiment of freedom is very much alive and they have not given up. Recent protests have punctured the tall claims of New Delhi that huge participation of people in the 2008 assembly elections had made the separatists irrelevant and they had endorsed democracy. The voter turn out in 2008 had made the leaders in New Delhi complacent and they were feeling that there was no need to address the Kashmir issue. New Delhi forgot that mainstream politicians had sought votes for addressing day to day problems and they had de-linked the resolution of the Kashmir issue from elections.

Present crisis is the outcome of New Delhi ignoring the ground realities. It seems some people sitting there had started believing that Kashmiris have lost the battle and they would never raise their head again. The younger generation taking over the Kashmir movement and highlighting the plight of Kashmiris through stones has proved all big think tanks in New Delhi wrong. There is no doubt about the fact that Kashmiris have been at the receiving end since the day youth with stones have been leading from the front. These unarmed youth have taken bullets on their chests. The stones they pelt have not killed a single policeman or a paramilitary CRPF trooper despite that 17 youth in the age group of 13 to 22 haven fallen to bullets which were fired in retaliation in the past 6-weeks.

All of us respect sacrifices rendered by our youth. Their untimely deaths have shocked us and all of us feel the pain of their families. Kashmiris have stood united in grief and we giving up our daily chores is enough to prove that we cannot tolerate killings anymore.

Life in the Kashmir Valley has come to a grinding halt and there seems to be no end to the present turmoil. No one seems to be interested in resuming the normal life as situation continues to be abnormal. Everyone is aware about the fact that Kashmiris are facing a tremendous loss in every field. Students and businessmen have been the worst hit, despite that people are putting up a brave face. Hats off to them. They have proved that their children, who are being killed ruthlessly, are more important than the economic packages that New Delhi announces for Kashmiris every now and then. Even the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, is on record saying: “People are not protesting against my government. Their anger is directed towards New Delhi.”

Questions looming large over the minds of people are: What next? Are continuous shutdowns a way towards achieving Azadi? Will the resilience and the determination shown by them make New Delhi change its attitude towards Kashmir and the Kashmiris?

It is not possible for anyone to answer these questions at this point of time. All these questions would be answered in coming days. The wait and watch policy adopted by the government indicates that it wants people to get tired and resume normal life on their own. It seems that state has decided that there won’t be any compromise. Those who are spearheading the ongoing “Quit Kashmir” movement also don’t seem to be in any mood of giving up. They are riding high on a popular wave and are calling the shots. People are religiously following the weekly calendar announced by the second rung leaders of Hurriyat Conference (G). What will be the outcome of the present agitation remains to be seen. But the one thing is for sure that Kashmiris have proved a point that Kashmir issue is not a border dispute between India and Pakistan which both these nations could resolve among themselves.

People of Kashmir have always expressed solidarity with the Muslims in any part of the world and have always raised their voice for them. On the contrary Islamic countries seem to be least bothered about what Kashmiris are undergoing none of the countries till date have issued any statement nor have the people of any of these countries staged a protest to disapprove the repression Kashmiris are facing. Even the Indian civil society has chosen to remain tightlipped over the present crisis in the Valley.

New Delhi based channels seem to have only one agenda i.e. whatever is happening in Kashmir is being sponsored by Lashkar-e-Toiba and Pakistan. Only a few channels have dared to present the true picture. To ensure that Indian people remain unaware about the ground situation in Kashmir authorities just a few weeks before had filed an FIR against the staff members of one such news channel. Since that day most of these channels are airing only that news which suits their national interest. An anchor of one such news channel, who recently bagged the award for being the best broadcaster in India, seems to be hell bent upon proving it to his nation that Kashmiris are ruthless people who beat gun wielding police and CRPF men mercilessly. He justifies all the actions of troops. His only assignment seems that he should prove that Kashmiris holding stones are “terrorists” and use of force against them is justified. The Chairman of the Peoples Conference, Sajad Gani Lone, who was one of the participants in the show hosted by NDTV had said: “I don’t support stone pelting but after watching your show I feel like taking up a stone and hurling it at authorities. Please stop demonizing our people.”

The overall situation in the Kashmir Valley is grim many areas are facing shortage of essential commodities and life saving drugs. No bank transactions are taking place nor is money being rotated. Authorities recently seized the relief material which was meant to be distributed in the urban areas. This shows that government wants to give no relaxation. It wants people to breakdown and call off the present agitation.

Those who are heading the “Quit Kashmir” movement need to bear all these things in mind and give direction to the ongoing movement. If present agitation fails it would have far reaching consequences as common Kashmiris have put everything on stake and they cannot afford another failure. This movement needs to sustain.

Recently the Chairman of United Jihad Council and Supreme Commander of Hizbul-Mujahideen had said that indefinite strike is no solution. “People should not lose hope neither should they get tired. Pro-freedom leaders need to bear all these things in mind,” Salahuddin had said.

Anyway it is easy to give statements and write articles. The fact is that those who are leading from the front are aware about the situation and they are the best judges to decide future course of action. If they want indefinite strike to continue then they would have strong reasons for it, but they should make these reasons public so that people do remain aware about where the present movement is heading towards. They need to bear one thing in mind that people of Kashmir are following them blindly. No one in Kashmir can afford the present movement to fail. To ensure that Kashmiris achieve their goal a long term strategy has to be worked out and shortcuts have to be avoided. All of us need to bear it in my mind that Kashmir is a 60-year old issue and it cannot be resolved in 60-days.