Engineering Mindsets’

Engineering Mindsets’ That is what caused divisions in Kashmir

I have more questions than answers. What is our mindset- no mindsets?  I am a talking about the ‘political mindsets.’
How have we cultivated these mindsets? Have they been engineered? Have these been tailored?  If tailored with what purpose? Have these mindsets contributed to the birth of the political uncertainty and its perpetuation in this state let me repeat once called the Himalayan kingdom? Is it a particular ‘mindset’ at a particular situation that has made Kashmir leaders take wrong decisions at the right junctures of our history?  

I for one believe that mindsets have been ‘engineered’ and ‘tailored’ by different forces at different periods of our history. It has been these ‘engineered mindsets’ that have played key role in spawning the political uncertainty that has been looming large not in our state only but in the entire sub-continent. It has been the ‘tailored mindset’ that has made many of our leaders  take decision’. It has not only changed the political course of the state but also shaped the destiny of the people of the state.

Once, I look at this premise that it has been the ‘tailored or engineered mindsets’ that have pushed us from one uncertainty into another’ in a historical perspective many events support me. In the context of struggle against the oppression of the Kashmir Muslims during the feudal rule the question I have been often asking myself what made the Muslim Conference change its name to the National Conference. History testifies that the Muslim Conference as an organization did not nurse grouse against any other community but was born to fight for the restoration of the rights of the majority community that was suffering heavily under discriminatory and brutal tax system and service recruitment rules. It did not preach communalism and historical fact is that its doors were open to all communities. Ostensibly, for the minority community having a far better share in the government jobs and enjoying comparatively a benevolent tax system there seemed no reason for them to rise against the ruler. It was at the stage when the struggle against the bigoted rule was gaining strength that a particular “mindset” was indoctrinated to Kashmir leadership that not only resulted in the splitting of the Muslim Conference but also divided the people.

It caused many   clashes within the majority community. Seen in a larger context it has been this division that has given birth to what many historians call as ‘Kashmir tragedy’. It was more of this ‘engineered mindset’ than any ideological divide   that   played a catalytic role in the shaping of the events at the time of the departure of the British resulting in the first India-Pakistan war and birth of the Kashmir as an international dispute. In the post- 1947, developments again we see that the National Conference leadership not providing strength to their decisions of supporting the ‘instrument of accession’ on the basis of any ideology but devising yet another ‘mindset’.. that comes evident from the much repeated lines of the speeches made by the leaders of the party:  ‘The truncated new born country has very fragile economy- it neither has the pin nor paper to run its administration- it cannot survive’ and no country can survive on the strength of religion and faith only- it needs sound economy that was not possible in this moth-eaten country’, this mindset engineered by the leftists ideologues of the emergency administrator was used to convince the public opinion in support of the party decision.

In the post 1947 situation we see this mindset at play till the deposition of the ‘protagonist supporter’ of the ‘instrument of accession’. The arrest and deposition of Sheikh Abdullah saw the birth of Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front- an organization that very strongly articulated right to self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as contained in various United Nations resolutions and demanded holding of plebiscite in the state under the aegis of this international organization. The Front under the leadership of once key advocates of  accession with India under the ‘instrument of accession’   led the movement for exercising of right to self-determination very successfully. To see this ‘movement’ defeated yet another ‘mindset’ was engineered to create a ‘trust deficit’ not in the leadership only but also in the rank and a file of the organization. The ‘mindset’ was engineered so meticulously that every tenth political worker started looking at one or another party leader and worker as an ‘agent’. I remember some of the best and committed workers in this organization suffered this label till the party was buried under an agreement with New Delhi in 1975. This ‘mindset in the party was so strong that even the top leadership of the organization used the word ‘agent’  against  the dissenting voices even in the working committee and general council meetings of the party and  at public rallies. The word ‘agent’ was also used to create a ‘trust deficit’ amongst people against the new potential leaders belonging to different youth organizations.

It in fact was this mind-set that not only eroded the organization from within but also provided strength to yet another ‘tailored mindset’ that I would call as “struggle-futility- mindset”. The party in the post 1964 situation emerged as the most powerful organization that changed New Delhi’s attitude towards it and it initiated moves for a dialogue with the organization for the amicable settlement of the problem. It was under this changed understanding that   Sheikh Abdullah was sent by Nehru to Islamabad for meeting Pakistan leadership. It needs not to be repeated that the situation after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru changed and the Front leaders and New Delhi again took to the confrontational path resulting in their arrest. In 1968, yet another mindset the ‘struggle-futility-mindset’ was engineered and it was articulated by none other than the top most socialist leader J.P. Naraynan in 1968 at a public meeting at Srinagar  organized by the Plebiscite Front. J.P. explaining the futility of the struggle for right to self-determination in view of changed geo-strategic situation asked the Front leaders to work for some solution within the confines of India. . True, Sheikh Abdullah opposed J.P. contentions in the same public meeting but the ‘new mindset’ got drilled in his political psyche. Sheikh Abdullah immediately after this started showing interest in the electoral politics first by supporting an independent candidate from Srinagar and then deciding to participate in all the elections including local bodies. It was victory of his sponsored candidate for the Parliament election from the Srinagar Constituency that convinced him about pushing the Front whole hog in the electoral politics and deciding to contest the 1972 Assembly elections. The Front for being banned could not contest these elections and boycotted them. It was the new ‘mindset’ that I see behind Front deciding to contest the elections than the dismemberment of Pakistan as Sheikh often made us believe. Let me reiterate that I see the J.P. indoctrinated ‘struggle-futility-mindset’ as the main cause for Sheikh and his lieutenant to end struggle for plebiscite and join the electoral politics. It was the again the J.P. indoctrinated ‘struggle-futility-mindset’, that I see reason for all pro-right to self-determination organization jumping over the Janata bandwagon in 1977.  It is historical reality after 1977 election no-major political party launched any movement for the right to self-determination.’

Looking at the contemporary political situation in a historical perspective the ‘engineered mindsets’ for creating ‘trust deficit’ in the political organizations and telling them about ‘futility’ of pursuing a particular political belief continue to be at play with same efficiency as they were during late sixties and early seventies. Most of the political parties other than those in electoral politics in the post 1996 situation seem afflicted with the ‘mindsets’ that had seen in 1975 end of  the movement led by the Plebiscite Front.

 In the post 1990 situation we saw ‘human rights activists’, ‘peace activist’ and even some diplomats engaged in ‘engineering mindsets’ about the ‘non-achievability’  of the goals enshrined in the constitution of the APHC. In the post 9/11 scenario these activists by and large succeeded in drilling in the minds of a good section of senior leaders ‘the futility syndrome’, thus engineering a mindset that I see cause for the division in Kashmir leaders.

(Mail at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)