Couple of weeks back, in this column, I called upon the people and the leaders for ‘collective introspection’. The phrase in no way had a ‘political- anthrax’ coating on it that should have caused nerve breaking itching in some “politicians”. And made them think that it threatened their ‘legitimacy’ as “leaders” or made them believe that the phrase was potent enough to pull down citadel of their hegemony. True, words do have the power to demolish the towers of hubris but equally they have the potential of redeeming nations from slavery and exploitation. History is full of instances where words have woken up the slumbering nations guided them to their destiny.
The purpose for asking for ‘ introspection’ was to identify the fault lines in our political struggle that have time and again made our goal hazier and added to our sufferings. In simpler terms, the ‘collective introspection is required for two reasons: one, to identify the reasons for the Kashmir Dispute’ refusing a resolution for past sixty-six years and second, why our every political struggle has midway met its Waterloo. And if it has been faux pas’ of leaders that is responsible for the movement after touching peaks dissolving into a nadir.
For me it has become biblical belief that it has been for our failure to introspect at regular intervals at the intellectual and commoners’ levels that our political goal now seems to be mirage. Looking dispassionately at the struggle of the people for their rights and freedom after the birth of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, I have come to believe that besides our leaders taking wrong decisions at right moments, one of the important reasons for perpetuation of our suffering has been the Kashmir leaders easily getting caught up in cleverly laid out ‘political booby traps’ by the enemies of the peoples movement.
Seventy years history of our struggle is replete with instances, when our leaders blindly walked into the pit holes laid by people feigning as their friends. In this column, I have more than once analyzed how the top Congress leadership through their trusted man in Kashmir Bazaz engineered conversion of the Muslim Conference into National Conference. He had attended first annual Congress Session in Lahore in 1930; thereafter he mobilized Kashmir Pandit Community and made them aware about the growing consciousness amongst the Muslims- the overwhelming majority about their rights. The top Congress leadership was not happy about the developments in the state. The emergence of the Muslim Conference in 1933 had become cause of concern for them. Through Bazaz, they succeeded sucking in Sheikh Abdullah into their fold. I see Sheikh Abdullah entering into partnership with Bazaz for launching a weekly newspaper as first trap laid down by the Congress leadership for him. On the face of it was an innocuous move but had sinister designs. This partnership resulted in converting of the Muslim Conference into the National Conference, and changing the political narrative of Jammu and Kashmir. Having done his job, Bazaz only after two years jumped out of Abdullah’s boat to join hands with rival group to defeat moves of unity between them.
In this column, it is not possible to recount the whole history how leadership either for their faulty understanding or for their vested interests have failed the people’s movements or allowed the powers that be to delegitimize the Kashmir cause. The Indira-Sheikh Accord of 1975 and the developments there after could be good case study for understanding how States work for delegitimizing the political movements.
In his autobiography Syed Mir Qasim forthrightly tells, how he and his predecessor G. M. Sadiq worked for defeating the movement for right to self-determination by wooing one after another party directly or through their proxies towards the electoral politics on their terms. In fact, in 1971, when the Plebiscite Front wanted to contest the elections to enter into dialogue with New Delhi from point of strength banned. The Congress leadership was averse to idea instead it wanted to talk to Sheikh Abdullah on its own terms and conditions and arrive at an arrangement that leaves no scope for demands like plebiscite and right to self-determination. This process culminated into 1975 Indira-Abdullah, which was an abject surrender of the leadership.
Having buried the Plebiscite Front, the central government worked on burying every trace of plebiscite movement. During, 1977 elections the power centers in New Delhi through its double edged strategy: one wooing every leftover “pro-freedom” group to the Janata Party with promise of enabling them to relish a slice from the ‘power-cake’ and second, lending sanctity to the 75 Accord for international consumption by allowing the National Conference to win in the election against Janata Bandwagon. It saw victory of the N.C as endorsement of the Accord. In devising this strategy Mrs. Gandhi and Morarji Desai were on the same page. In fact, through this strategy New Delhi largely succeeded in demolishing the movement for right to self-determination. It took almost a decade for the new generation to breathe a new life in this movement.
Had there been a strong dissent or robust press in the state in 1947 or even during seventies perhaps leaders would not have afforded to barter the people’s sentiments for power. And push Kashmir towards one after another phase of stalemate.