‘If liberty means anything to tell, it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear’.—–George Orwell,‘For many Er. Rashid is a dramatist, a joker, a spy, a nuisance, a suspicion, an actor, a proxy; but at least for myself I am prisoner of my conscience ….’, writes the MLA of Langate constituency in his weekly column ‘ I Confess’( GK. January 20, 2018).
I have no instrument to pierce open the heart of ‘enigmatic’ Engineer and then base my argument on the ‘empirical evidence’ to see if his heart sits in perfect harmony with his political belief. Even those with glittering hallows and adorning robes, the inner other half of their lives remains obscured. Till the time the edifice of their ‘saintliness’, nurtured from ‘good intentions’ , crumble down. The legendary Sheikh Abdullah spell bound us decades together, reciting holy verses of ‘Al-Rahman’ from holy Quran. It was too late to find the political lust and opportunism nestling in his bosom not matching his demeanor and he selling us cheap. We have, inevitably, to read and judge people through their actions, seeable and tangible.
For both strands of ideological divide—Indian mainstream and off-stream—this potentially outspoken voice of Kashmir has emerged a split personality. Delhi and its political props accuse him for furthering ‘secessionist’ politics, while Huryat berate him for ‘enacting drama’ in the assembly and ‘serving Indian cause’. Torn between the two opposite extremes, he often quotes the couplet to sum up his plight.
Zahid-e-tang nazar nay mujay kafir samja
Aur Kafir samajta hai Musalman hun mayn.
( A narrow-minded Muslim labels me as a non-believer, whereas non-believer condemns me as a Muslim)
It is his second consecutive stint in the JK assembly and more than eight years. Pretty enough time to make a reasonable assessment about his political life, conviction and activities. We all are witness to the crude black-mailing of sentiments on part of the regional pro-Delhi parties—in particular the NC and the PDP– at the time of elections and how soon they shamelessly renege from their election promises, ending in consolidating the status quo. Post-militancy saw elections happen despite boycott call from the resistance leadership. And as heavily obsessed they are with their poll boycott stand, Eng. Rashid’s participation in elections makes him pariah for this camp, notwithstanding his opening up to public scrutiny that unlike pro- Indian groups he has no status-quoist ‘mammary glands’, but ‘ feathers’ of resistance sentiment. Only elected representative in a whole bunch of tarnished legislators Eng. Rashid has shown the courage to speak in the assembly and Delhi and in the same manner and language he does while addressing public gatherings, election rallies and seminars and panel discussions of Indian news channels. To the frustrations of all his co-legislators, Rashid seeks resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of entire people of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir in line with the Security Council resolutions. No coercion or inducement has dampened his spirits against advocating the need of addressing “ mother of all disputes” or exposing the stink of double-speak. He has always raised questions on the political construction of militarized normalcy and culture of impunity. For what he speaks in the assembly, as he himself states, he has become ‘nuisance’ in the House. His exposing the stink of political deceit, various scams and loot of state exchequer has rattled his opponents, both in Treasury benches and Opposition. He being marshalled out from the House on many occasions betrays impatience of the House towards his daring but uncompromising attitude on issues he religiously raises up in the assembly.
For his candid expression in the assembly, this man, who wears no air of privilege about him, though has become a billboard of ‘terror’ for the ruling regime and his contemporary law makers, walks chin up, with no security. That speaks the confidence he palpates and thinks he has gained in the people. His using the ‘powerful’ institution for raising, what he says, ‘ Kashmir issue and governance’ –and in a forceful articulation—has veered a section of people to take him seriously. It has induced them in looking at the positives and negatives of the politics he has been pursuing since last decade. As he ,in all humility says, ‘ I confess having made no difference at the ground but let me claim that the least I have achieved is exposing the myth of democracy’. And to do that one has but to acknowledge that Eng.Rashid has listened to the call of his conscience. He has unlike advocates of autonomy or self rule not sank back into stupor. In forgetfulness of our sufferings to collect his political fortunes. As action speaks louder than words, he has not adulterated his conscience, for he is ‘ prisoner of his conscience’. Long live and God bless you!