“Once you get into the desert, there is no going back. And when you cannot go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward…. Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself…”
———- Paulo Coelho in his ‘ The Alchemist’.
It’s the fourth month of spontaneous protests and the suspension of life against the unprecedented brutalities inflicted on the unarmed people of Kashmir. Burhan’s killings just acts as a trigger, and the fiery deluge of hate and anger takes on the Establishment doped on the fault lines of countless betrayals, blistering lies and ‘history of broken promises’( Chidhambarram, former home minister of India). The monster behind the veil of democracy strips out naked. Demon-crazy sets its new order, and in ringing rage stares us with the President Bush’s canon: ‘ Either you are with us, or against us’. As it always happens, power intoxicated is drawn to grave yard silence as it is fascinated by owls’ hoots. And once that pleasure is derived, it lulls in the delusion of cold calm. But woefully forgetting the storm beneath gathering momentum and time. To explode the false constructs created around the hard reality of Kashmir.
We are not out of cross-hairs, in fact we have never been since the time “ Toiran Ababiles” roared from Indian plains to fasten us into a ‘forced wedlock’. But, as our seven decade struggle for right to self determination bears witness, we never compromised on this inviolable right. Notwithstanding towering SM Abdullah doing elephantine retreat, or the 9/ 11 ‘changing course of history’ or flawed democracy rapidly getting laced with religious fascism. And it is seeped deep in our collective psyche that in this desert there is no going back. Once the inertia sets in we are doomed. Our life and sustenance hinges on not holding back but moving forward. Salute to the valiant people of Kashmir for not let their sufferings come in the way and break in submission. We have already created history — our land getting converted in the highest militarized zone(‘ an armed soldier for every twenty civilians’—Arundhati Roy). And the resistance marking milestones one after another in the long-drawn struggle that cannot be won in one go, one stride.
The Great Intifada of 1916 has cultivated a feat of its own. We have shattered the basic premise propagated on daily basis that Kashmiris express their faith on Indian democracy. It was entire Kashmir that surged its heart out to show the world we want to break the state narrative. Earlier it was claimed Muslim community speak discordantly and Shias, gujars, paharis, the people from Chenab valley and Pir Panchal region are satisfied with status quo. The great uprising, standing above sectarian, regional, linguistic and ethnic divide, wreathed all in the bouquet of one people aspiring and striving to seek redemption. The resistance, in its entirety and sanctity, got transmitted to 4th-gen which greeted it fearlessly and in fulsome conviction. Unlike 2008,09,10 uprisings—which were urban-driven– this Intifada saw rural areas becoming lead centres of upsurge. Burhan’s spark erupted the volcano and South Kashmir scripted the history of resistance anew, rest of Kashmir joining the course. And Islamabad resolutely taking and advocating Burhan’s Kashmir at UNO.
A small territory choked with six lakh troops and many other hundreds of thousands of para military forces and police, imagine the plight of the besieged people. Always on the prowl and unmindful of accountability, Kashmiris standing up with bare chests and open eyes against formidable power. We are Kashmiris and so the response of the state is and has to be selectively different. Pellet for eyes, bullet for chests, tear gas to uproot the skulls. The rest of the ‘ lesson teaching’ techniques perfected in lock ups and torture centers.
The spontaneity, intensity and spread of uprising and fulsome mass involvement, in particular, lack of fear and furious resolve of youth to break the stranglehold was so over-awing that a great majority of people began to perceive that this time India would be forced to yield to public pressure and talk sense. Hurriyat too was overwhelmed by the emotional outburst on the streets. In absence of any other alternative to respond to the state inflicted savagery, it replicated 2010 calendar. It is easy to blame the Hurriyat leaders now, but protests would have not ceased even if it would not have intervened. Hurriyat maintained a discipline in protests, taking all stake holders in confidence. Hartals entails losses and leaders and people know it. No one will like suffering of its own hands.( But never forget the curfews and restrictions state implemented for two months, plus the crackdowns it launched.) In true democracies, this kind of protest would have created stir and shamed the rulers. India and its civil society, instead, derived sadistic pleasure.
We have done what we could. And demonstrated flame of sentiment we fed will keep glowing. We have breathed through the catastrophes struck on us and have conveyed we only can do it. There is nothing to lose. We are scaling phase by phase up to final kiss. The movement is far more strengthened than before. In this context, there is no reason for leaders to get disheartened. But it is important for them to revisit the protest schedule. Not that it didn’t deliver, it did. But now the same movement calls for providing some breather to the freedom-loving people so that they emerge more resolute and resilient. They are ‘mandated’ to explore all other options in line with demands of the resistance movement.
Caution—Psychological warfare has been an instrument of state policy followed by India in Kashmir. It is to destroy the self respect and confidence of Kashmiris. We have not to get disappointed by this propaganda. Only to explore ‘ best way of moving forward.’