Blaming the victim

It pains when sufferings don’t shake our conscience

They say the five month long strike and protests, that paralyzed life in Kashmir were futile as ‘it did not even impress Obama’ who ‘did not utter a single word on Kashmir, during his recent visit to India’. On the other hand, drone they, ‘it has led to great loss on economic and development fronts’.

 Some sardonic comments from some of our writers also leveled the distinction between the wrong doer and the wronged. They held victim himself responsible for what was unleashed on him by the power-intoxicated.

 First things first. When did President of United States visit India? In the first week of November. When did summer uprising flash up? In June 2010, when 13 year old Tufail Matoo was brutally murdered by paramilitary forces. A gap of four months between the time Obama touched Indian soil and ‘Quit Jammu and Kashmir’ campaign erupted. Till then who the gods people of Kashmir were propitiating to? Obama deity was not in sight of. It got installed in capital Delhi after parliamentary delegation arrived in and three member interlocutor’s group was engaged to take the steam off the agitation.

 When ‘god’ Obama descended on Delhi to assure his support for India’s bid for a berth in Security Council, we had till then been snatched of a crop of blooming youth. 111 – not Nelson’s figure. Not soul-less digits. Our walking, talking, smiling teenaged – some even below thirteen – darlings. Who, frolicking on the beaches of innocence, were made cannon fodder for ‘challenging’ writ of mighty, for daring to show holes in the ‘largest democracy’ and pleading for doing justice and asking to pledge commitment on right to self determination. Demanding justice and honoring commitments made might be a virtue elsewhere, here in Kashmir it is a crime, unpardonable.

 Kashmiri’s struggle is indigenous and for just cause. They have undergone the worst of sufferings, still their commitment is absolute and total. When they rose up in one voice against injustice, they did not seek Uncle Sam’s aashirwaad.

 The relations of the countries are determined by their national interests, not by moral obligations. Trade, business and economy was on top of Obama’s agenda. Beleaguered and beaten at home he could not have done anything but be focused on economy. Kashmiris did not look at him as Santa Claus who would bring them some sort of Christmas joy. Obama’s first and foremost consideration obviously had been his own people. Had world been sensitive on human values, it would have become abode of peace since long.

 Which independent struggle or even reformation movement had reached its goal without extracting price. Even prophets had to pay the dearer. What is important is how lofty are your  ideas and how just you are in your stand. And with what motivational impulses you are drawn to it.

 Kashmiris investment in life and limbs, economy and development was/is for a just cause, for a noble purpose. What if the tormentor relishes in the pain of the suffered. The question is who is on the side of the right, who is on the side of the wrong. Who espouses the cause of the truth, who peddles falsehood. More importantly where the buck must stop? At the doors of the one who snatches life or who craves for justice? One who has arrogated to himself the “right” to muzzle every voice of dissent. Or, the one who takes a leaf from Gandhian philosophy of non-violence and his Civil disobedience movement?

 You hail Gandhi and his non-violence despite all sufferings it brought to people of India when he rallied Indians under ‘Quit India’ slogan in 1942. Education, economy, business and trade suffered. Schools, colleges, Universities were closed. Railway communications, transport, postal services were severely affected. Mills and industries were locked. Students and trade-unions and employees joined the movement. Life came to standstill. British responded, as is expected from every imperialist, with lathi, goli and imprisonment, even exile to Kala Pani. Many people lost their lives, many became crippled for life. For poor and the daily wagers prolonged strikes, shutdowns and demonstrations ‘brought nothing but miseries’. But unlike some intellectuals of our time and pro-Establishment political class, none was so “articulate” and “courageous” as to degrade the victim to the level of the aggressor. None pulled his/her sleeves up to denigrate the leadership for the crime perpetrated by the other. For ‘loss in economy and development’ and closure of educational institutions, Gandhi Ji was not put in dock, Nehru and Patel were not jeered at for reveling in luxury, ‘Sending their sons to Malaysia and England’ and ‘taking chicken soup’ while ‘depriving the people of green vegetables’ at the same time.

 Gandhi’s Pad Yatra and Satya Graha, even hunger strikes and Maran Barats, that entailed sufferings and inconveniences to the leader as well as the oppressed people, were meant to prick the conscience of the British and make them loyal to democratic credentials and values they claim to adhere to. Indians were lucky as non-violent form of agitation shook the conscience of British. That we are not so lucky even advocating and practicing same mode of protest cannot make us liable for accusations that should lie somewhere else.

 Martin Luther King, an ardent follower of Gandhian philosophy of nonviolence has remarked, ‘If your opponent has a conscience follow Gandhi……’ We did what ‘father of Indian nation’ is remembered for, appreciated for. And in return got over hundred people killed, more than three thousand injured. 38 visually handicapped due to sling-shots, bullets, tear gas shells and pellet injuries.

 Lucky, yes, were people of India in forties of last century who made their opponent realize that Indians too were human beings and could not be put in chains. We concede our ‘fatigue syndrome’: That we could not convince our “friends” to treat us above the level of farm animals. We admit our sacrifices could not shake them.

 You laugh at the ‘wisdom’ of month long agitation but at the same time hail Gandhian peaceful approach of expressing dissent. Incompatible it is when floral wreaths are laid at the Samadhi of Gandhi in Delhi and his philosophy of non-violence is abused and buried here in Kashmir. Divorcing state off Gandhian philosophy is to kill Gandhi. We are afraid you don’t feel the pain of murdering Gandhi.  That is why Kashmir doesn’t move your conscience.

 Tail Piece: – In the backdrop of political tremors that shocked the rulers in Delhi, Gandhi has some advice: ‘They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me – then they will have my dead body, not my obedience’. Suppression of body never means suppression of mind. That is the reality Kashmir resonates with.

 (The author can be reached at zainagiree@yahoo.co.in)