My Pedestrian Understanding

self contemplation over a period of time has become our national attribute.  There is hardly a day in the life of a man in the street that does not make him look inwards and try to identify the causes for the birth and the perpetuation of his agony, pain and political uncertainty. He would love to live with peace with himself in his small world but for the “uncertainty” ‘stripping him down to the skin as autumn comes to trees’ he suffers from emotional pain and mental torment.  

 To understand the political phenomenon that has brought our state to this impasse has in fact become our national pastime – engagement after the prayers outside the mosques and at all social gatherings. If the perceptions of common man are documented in seventy eight years of political struggle of the state, he sees many a flawed year that he holds responsible for the birth as well as perpetuation of the barrages of sufferings. In his perception the years that are generally considered as flawed years are 1932, 1938, 1946, 1947, 1964, 1975, 1991, 2002 and 2008.

It would not possible in this article to recount in all details how a man in the street sees these years as flawed years in his story and looks at them as years that have caused and contributed to the birth of the political uncertainty in the State- that have caused unprecedented death and destruction.

The year 1932, saw the first crackdown in the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference- an organization born a year before to voice the demands of the Muslims of the Jammu and Kashmir state who despite being eighty percent of population of the state were not only suffering the worst kind of discrimination but were being “treated as worst than quadrupeds.”  It was not a communal struggle but a struggle of the Muslims of the state for restoration of their denied rights. The process of taking wind out of the sails of this movement and derailing it started in 1935 and culminated in 1938 with yet another division of the Jammu and Kashmir Conference and birth of the National Conference. I for one see the conspiracy of derailing the movement for the rights of the Muslims even before the birth of the Muslim Conference in the events that followed the election of the first representative body of the Muslims of the state in June 1931 only- that debate that may not be relevant at this time. The division of the Muslim Conference in 1938, if seen in right historical perspective is in fact a precursor to the developments of 1947 i.e. accession controversy, landing of troops from New Delhi at Srinagar airport, division of the state, war between India and Pakistan, India complaining to United Nations and seeking its intervention, UN adopting resolution calling for deciding future of the state through a plebiscite, stationing of the UN Military observers group in the state and birth of the dispute.

How 1938 decision of the popular Muslim leadership could be seen as precursor to the 1947 and how 1946 Quit Kashmir movement could be held responsible for the birth of a tragedy is half-heartedly contested by some writers. More than often these writers come up with the argument that the protagonist of the National Conference has not signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ but it is the last feudal ruler of the state who had temporarily acceded to India subject ratification by the will of the people and often quote the speeches of the Prime Minister of India in the Parliament and from the All India Radio. History is full of evidences that make their argument too brittle that it cracks on the very first counter argument by the man on the street.

  How the Quit Kashmir movement was not in sync with the political scenario that was developing in the sub-continent and how it added to the nervousness of the feudal rulers that set a chain of reactions that created a situation facilitating New Delhi’s intervention   in itself a subject that needs a detailed study. The man in the street has his own argument about the 1946, Quit Kashmir movement working as a catalyst for the situation that landed him in yet another period of uncertainty. ‘The Maharaja and his Prime Minister were enthusiastic about preserving and maintaining independence of their country and it was this desire that had prompted them to float Stand Still Agreement’ that Pakistan signed but India declined to sign. But it was fear that  of  the Quit Kashmir movement instilled in  the ruling family that had made them to look towards the Congress leadership and work behind the scene for joining union of India much before September 1947.

The man in the street has been looking at the developments in 1947, with its all its  dimensions   as the primary cause for the political uncertainty in the state. He has his own argument to see the developments in many other subsequent years contributing to the continuance of the political uncertainty in the state. The man in the street does not count 1953 as a ‘flawed year’ but as year of penance as it had seen leadership retracing its early steps. The steps that it had started believing were leading to a morass where from this tiny nation would not able to come out. He in fact has been looking at 1964 as a flawed year as the Kashmir leadership failed to grab an opportunity that had thrown up a promise of ending the political uncertainty in the state. The 1964 Holy Relic Movement had undoubtedly infused a new life in the Kashmir problem and renewed international interest in the resolution of the problems. The situation as obtained in the state during this movement had made not only Jawaharlal Nehru but many other leaders in New Delhi to relook on India’s stated position. The man in the street has his own argument that suggests that this movement was scarified for   removing Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad from the scene for twin myopic objectives one driven out of political vendetta and another by the vested interest of installing a sibling as chief minister of the state.   The 1964 movement got defeated as the men in vanguard instead of pursuing the main goal set release of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. A lot has been written about 1975 Indira- Sheikh Agreement.

How this agreement that enabled Sheikh to return to power instead of helping in ending political uncertainty contributed to its perpetuation. The man in the street has  his own take about the  1990   and how in the post 1990 scenario leadership on more than one occasion failed to live up to the situation. He sees mushrooming of militant organizations with every cleric even those preaching ‘rosary Islam’ launching their own militant outfits. And then the war of supremacy in the militant organization as the greatest undoing that added to the miseries of the people. He looks at the 2002 division in the conglomerate followed by 2008 agitation failure translating into a political movement with a set goal as important factors contributing to his enhanced agony that has been now seeing the children and teenagers as the target. It may sound pedestrian understanding of the Kashmir problem but I see it as a soul searching of a common man- that situation drives him to on daily basis.

And many a time this introspection leads him to self-flogging- he forgets the immense sacrifices that people have been offering for sixty three years   and in his anger he cries hoarse that ‘we are nation of collaborators’.

The man in the street has been doing a lot of introspection. He has never failed to rise to the occasion. He understands the factors that have contributed to the political quagmire that stretches beyond the state.  But asking him to introspect for identifying the ways and means for ending of the political uncertainty would be asking too much from him. It is the academia and intelligentsia that should be asked to introspect, do some soul searching for identifying ways and means for ending political uncertainty in the state.

The struggle for ending political uncertainty has been without break passing from generation to generation. I see the fence sitter intelligentsia of our state in the dock – it is this class of people that has so far failed play a role by their counter parts in other parts of the world.

(Feedback at zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)