When the American naval base at Pearl Harbour was destroyed by the Japanese air force, momentarily a sense of triumph must have gripped the Japanese forces involved in the attack. In the movie Pearl Harbour, the military commander calls on the emperor, and with a sense of accomplishment briefs him about the attack. The emperor drowned in deep cogitation, slowly lifts his head up, and sums it up all: “ you have only woken up a giant.”
It was not an expression of fear on part of the emperor, but a wise encapsulation of what could follow the attack. The acts of war that kill people in numbers are not solitary happenings. There is something that precedes, and certainly a thing that follows.
The car blast on Srinagar highway, at Lethpora, reminds me of the emperor’s sentence. Not in the sense that it will wake up any giant, but in the sense that the giant finally seems to have woken up! The old order of a contained violence, interspersed by some doses of digressional politics may be gone for ever. This car blast has suddenly exposed to us how dangerously Kashmir is placed on a cliff.
It’s the moment of intense grief and deep mourning for the dozens of families who lost their sons. The scenes of the families crying inconsolably are devastating in a pure human sense. People in Kashmir can understand it more than many living elsewhere. Such mournings, and such devastation, are like ever living memories with us. The people of Kashmir can well empathise with all the victims of this violent conflict.
This incident is a wake up call. It’s time to think of what lies ahead if the sources of violence in Kashmir are not plugged. If, what is being done is continued to be done, what happens will continue to happen. If negativity and nihilism are refused to take the centre stage, this is the moment of reflection. It’s not the moment to raise a war cry. If a common man in India in enraged over such images, it’s all understandable. His is a pure human response. But those in India who handle Kashmir know it well that this traumatic incident is the making of the extremely irresponsible, and patently repressive policies of the political leadership that has of late taken over the reigns of power in its iron hand.
Just a cursory look at how Kashmir is now situated, and how the deep waters of violence are raging to ravage this region. There are multiple indicators that this violence would touch new peaks.
First, in 1990s when Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan, it had a psychological impact on the armed organisation in Kashmir. Not just that, it materially informed the armed movement in Kashmir. After more than a decade the US troops are finally negotiating some settlement with the Taliban. It might not be the same as 1989 pull out of the Russian troops, but as the sounds from the ground indicate, it does resonate with the young minds of Kashmir. Good or bad, real or illusive, but it lifts up the spirits of many. And then the world is again falling into a bipolar trap, where violence would become subjective.
Two, the rising waves of radicalism in India, and its ghastly expressions in the form of lynchings, inform the responses in Kashmir. The disruption in the human relationships among communities is an inexhaustible reservoir of violence.
Third, towards the end of 1990s, there was an attempt to give politics a chance in Kashmir. Political formations across the divide – Electoral or Resistance – have almost disappeared. The fate the PDP met because of what the BJP did to it, and the fate Kashmir’s politics met because of what the PDP did to it, has rendered all experiments in this mid-way politics deeply suspicious, and throughly abhorring for the people of Kashmir. On the other side the repression unleashed on Resistance activists has further choked the political spaces. This is a standing invitation to violence.
Four, the teenagers dying almost everyday has given birth to a completely changed mindset in the people who undergo this pain. There are stories strewn around where the sense of vengeance settled in the deeper recesses of the young minds is taking concrete forms. This incident can actually open up new possibilities.
Five, in early 1990s when armed militancy broke out there were routes the young boys could walk away through to avoid violence in Kashmir. The well to do families shifted lock, stock and barrel. They admitted their children outside Kashmir, and settled their businesses outside. A good number of Kashmiris spread themselves in different parts of India. But now the gates on the back are not just closed, but the flames are coming in from the back too.
Lastly, the leaking of violence and the means of violence from one end into the other is a deadly scenario in any violent conflict. We never know who plans, who provides, who executes, and who finally benefits from the violence. The themes are not that simple, anymore. Multiple payers can sneak in.
One shudders to think that this place will not just be the host for violence coming from different corners, but it will surely export the thing. The politics of suffocating an entire population, an entire community, is finally pushing this region over the cliff.
The world needs to take notice of it. If Kashmir would not be the same ever again, the region too would change in the most horrible ways. The shattering will travel far and wide.
It’s also a testing time for the Resistance leadership of Kashmir. Their initial statement is an indication of concern over the emerging situation. But beyond this, they must try hard not to allow this culture of violence flourish in Kashmir.
If all the players in Kashmir don’t make a serious attempt to initiate a political process to address the issue, one can only hear Faraz raising the lament:
Yahan pyham qabeelai qatl hoongai
This carnage is just endless.