Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s engagements in New Delhi have been construed as `flexibility’ in his stand. His meeting Ram Jethmalani and some others in the city has sent a message around. `Beware, Geelani has softened his stand on Kashmir’. Well, one can’t really say anything conclusively that whether the man is really getting flexible or he is even more tenacious in his stand. That question can better be answered by the man himself. What actually sets us thinking is different.
Is Kashmir issue so forbidden a fruit that anyone who shares some space with anyone outside Kashmir can be accused of reneging from his stand. This applies to Geelani himself whose toughness sends across multiple messages. When someone outside his own camp engages himself in negotiations, the accusations come flowing. The `sell-out’ theory has been quite a rage in Kashmir and everyone sees everyone else as a sell-out. Who has actually sold himself out and who still stands committed? Whose sincerity can be held in suspicion and whose loyalty is above board. All these questions make us sit on a moral pedestal and pronounce judgements. We can best answer these questions through silence. If there are a few individuals around Geelani who are not happy to see him meet BJP stalwarts in Delhi, they are making him taste the dose of his own medicine. Intent is personal, who knows who intends to do what? Geelani sees others `softening’ their respective stands the same way as others see him softening his.
We have created iron curtains around ourselves. We stand chained in our own inhibitions. There is no harm in any exchange of thought. By mere meeting or talking to someone, we necessarily don’t endorse his views and vote in his favour. We must not catch infection by rubbing shoulders with those we disagree with. The health of a dialogue lies in putting forth one’s views forcefully, but peacefully whether one does it at home or outside. The menace of aspersion- casting has cost us our own credibility.
Let’s believe that someone softens one’s stand. Is there anything inartistically immoral about even changing one’s stand, let alone softening it. Political manifestoes are not religious beliefs. Change is the only thing that keeps sanity in place. As John Maynard Keynes would put it so beautifully. `When facts change, I change myself’. The question will still keep haunting Geelani’s fans and detractors alike. Has he really changed? There can’t be any better news for Delhi than getting the question answered in affirmative.