‘The hardest challenge’, warned E.E. Cummings, ‘is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you somebody else’. And ‘to be yourself’ when everyone wants to yoke you for his own self. Or push you in black-hole of ‘national interests’. Dress you up in falsehood. Quench his fanaticism with your tears. Fan his bigoted patriotism with your credulity. When you cease to be accountable to your live conscience. Afraid from speaking truth, naked and brutal. Irrespective of who gets pleased, who gets annoyed. ‘To be yourself’ when, nations speak with mercantile language. Get corporatized and globalized into a snare of vested interests. The hardest challenge you have to weigh yourself in the scales of justice and humanity. And to stand up and be counted.
‘Peace Conference’ organized by ‘J and K Peace Foundation’ in Srinagar on May 17, had the honor of playing a host. But it was the ‘hardest challenge’ of keeping yourself in yourself, and Swami Agnivesh made the day memorable. He stood up and looked into the mirror of ground reality in Kashmir and asked the Indians to rinse their face off the smudge of countless betrayals and deceits they committed against the people of Kashmir.
The prominent social activist minced no words in accusing New Delhi that it was never sincere in resolving the Kashmir dispute. Telling media persons on the sidelines the swami said that political leadership at Delhi made ‘countless promises to Kashmiris during the last 60 years, arranged conferences, appointed interlocutors at highest level, but none of the promises was kept’. He bluntly said, ‘Government of India should be held responsible for breaking their promises’.
Troubled times, as our past experience reveals, makes New Delhi shed its ‘democratic’ robes and it resorts to three-pronged approach: (1) excessive use of force (2) Hiring pro-Indian political fringe to present as a democratic face for the otherwise military rule and (3) employing a band of interlocution. But truth is this trishool-dhari approach has not cured the carbuncle that Kashmir has proved for India. Suppressing people in body never meant a triumph in mind and soul. As the six decades history shows, every succeeding generation struts up in becoming more resolute and articulate in its demand for right to self-determination than its preceding one. Even poll contests and its trusted political lackeys did not change the political tide in favor of Delhi. The political as well as emotional winds continue to drift away from Indian-mainstream. Interlocutors Delhi use as an auxiliary tool to sustain status-quo than a body aimed to find a just and permanent solution, reflecting genuine aspirations of Kashmiris.
Flipping through the pages of deceit, we have had the tantalizing ‘sky is the limit’ “generosity”. But as the gun lost the sting, the reconciliatory approach vanished in much the same way as the plebiscite promise Indians pissed it on. And as the progress chart of Padgaunkar’s ‘holy’ mission shows it has all its masculinity dried up in ‘recommending’ release of prisoners and removal of black laws. But even when none of its ‘recommendation’ was fulfilled still the show goes on. To hoodwink Kashmiris. It did nothing meaningful. It is since eight months it got engaged into interlocution but with whom. With the known pro-Indian faces. All from the pro-resistance camp maintained a septic distance from her. Swami Agnivesh, seeing the futility of this exercise, accuses Delhi of ‘beating about the Bush’ on Kashmir and says appointment of panels wouldn’t solve the issue unless India shows ‘seriousness’ in resolving it.
Agnivesh said ‘Delhi people have made Kashmir their fiefdom and are using it for their own vested interests’. Yes, only in ‘fiefdoms’ you can impose your own puppets, exploit the natural resources (as the NHPC is doing to state’s water resources), convert the held land into militarized zone and hold elections under the barrel of gun. Under the fiefdoms as rightly said by the social activist: ‘There are people sitting in New Delhi who are running the state’s affair directly. It is a namesake government here in J&K. it doesn’t have any say’. More than once Delhi showcased its hubris, bordering on imperialism. From the time of legendary Sheikh Abdullah to present Omar Abdullah, whether in matters of Resettlement Bill, autonomy Resolution passed in assembly or revocation of AFSPA demand – not to speak of dethroning sheikh Abdullah from his ‘Prime Ministership’ and imprisoning him in far off Otakamand, dismissing Farooq regime in 1984 and rigged elections in 1987 – New Delhi behaved in Sir Oracle way. The present Chief Minister is holding the post because he enjoys the support of Gandhi family in Delhi. The local congress has on many times pleaded for a rotational chief minister but the demand could not get through. Remember December 2008 when Farooq Abdullah, as the president of the NC, has one day before swearing in function declared himself as next CM. but had to bow down to Delhi’s will rather directive.
Exposing Delhi’s double standard and duplicity, Agnivesh could not but lament: ‘Why isn’t government ordering judicial inquiry into these killings? When the inquiry can be ordered over the killing of one person in rest of country why not here over the killing of 117 people’. And still they cry hoarse from the roof-tops that Kashmir is ‘integral part’ of India. Why blood of innocent Kashmiris make people in Delhi look insulated to other side. Political and ideological persuasions apart, aren’t there some human values that demand a voice raised against perpetrators of crime. Agnivesh has showed Indians the way how to put itself off the bind its arrogance and rigidity had sucked it in. ‘Let them talk to right people on Kashmir resolution’. And Delhi itself knows who the ‘right people’ are, who enjoys mass-following in the disputed state. By-passing them would lead Delhi nowhere. Sniff the petals and leaves. They would tell you wherefrom the political wind flows and at what velocity.
To show seriousness and sincerity on resolving Kashmir issue Swami asks New Delhi to revoke AFSPA, order judicial inquiry by a sitting Supreme Court into last year killings and release Kashmir youth and political leaders. All these demands, genuine indeed, reflect the voices of pro-freedom leadership. Let Delhi create the conducive atmosphere for holding talks in conceding these demands.
We cannot but appreciate the Swami Agnivesh for raising his voice in favor of people of Kashmir. We thank him much. By the way why people here are caged when they too raise the same voice? Aren’t there two Indians in one India?