‘Politics is the art of looking for the trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies’—— Groucho Marx
Torn between hope and despair, the seven-member family of Muhammad Ramzan Chodhary of Devta village in Mendhar—like thousands of other families across Line of Control ( LoC)– would breathe life and death at once. On the silence at the border their day counted. But as the guns boomed, despair would overwhelm them, wrench them off all life stands for. On miraculous escape they survive. But then miracles do not happen daily.
The people near the LoC and border have become victims of egos of the rulers across the line. In each explosion and mortar shelling, where the ordinary people would find tragedies knocking them out of their muddy shack they call home, the ruling class are seen brandishing their chests of arrogance and belligerence, talking in retaliatory tone. In the bizarre sabre-rattling the hapless families, nonetheless, keep on getting suck in the killing field.
The utter disregard to their plight have encrypted the ineraseable feeling among the border people that their worth is not more than flies ‘ wanton boys’ in power play to derive pleasure. Of their being children of lesser gods.
The people dying on the border/ LoC are not second class citizens that the state would ignore their miseries and look to other way. They have right to life and other fundamental rights enjoyed by citizens in metropolitan cities. Geography is not an excuse to deny them protection, nor can be allowed to come in way of their living a dignified life. They cannot be punished for their proximity to the border. It is not the inherent disability for people to have taken birth there. The question is why then people on either side of the Line of Conflict lose their life, property, houses, shops and other belongings to the nearly routine fire-power of troops of India and Pakistan? Why heart-wrenching tragedies keep on multiplying with more harrowing spectacle?
Stay cool, rinse yourself off the hyper nationalist fever and macho pride. Once relaxed and emptied of preconceived constructs, we would see many a things worshipped as gospel truth lose substance and relevance. We have to acknowledge and accept the line that separates the two parts of Kashmir is not the border with international recognition but the Line of Control that begs for peaceful reconciliation and amicable settlement of the ‘dispute’.
It was none other than highly acclaimed prime minister of India, Atal Bihare Vajpayee, who in 2003 entered into cession of hostilities agreement with President of Pakistan General Musharaff and both leaders initiate dialogue process to settle the issue. With Manmohan Singh Singh-led Congress government assuming power, the quest for peaceful solution continued. The ceasefire agreement reflected a growing realization on part of both neighboring countries that Kashmir cannot be put at the backburner and military approach—in the changed dynamics when both countries were nuclear armed– was unthinkable. It dawned on both New Delhi and Islamabad that irrespective of their stated positions the solution has to be found out bringing in the loop genuine Kashmir leadership, an important stake-holder.
The silence of guns heralded peace and normal life at the border, coinciding with easing restrictions on resistance leadership and building confidence measures. Change of guard, unfortunately, hardened positions, sabotaging whatever positive has been achieved in paving way for ending the conflict that has made future, peace and security of one and a half billion people of the region hostage to Kashmir problem. The ‘muscular approach’( former finance minister, P Chidhambaram ) not only scripted death and destruction at the border areas, even the militancy graph scaled up. The denial for free expression and gag on dissent might cultivate dread and fill prisons but in the end it turns counter productive. It is time both India and Pakistan embark on peaceful means, giving up aggressive postures.
That alone will ease tension on the border and save innocent people from being pushed into the inferno, as became the fate of Chodhary family which on last Sunday saw five of seven-member family wiped out to cross-border shelling. Words cannot describe the tragedy that descended on the family. As M Ramzan Chodhary and his wife sat for the breakfast with their three sons and two daughters in their mud house, the bomb fell on the shack killing the parents and the three sons instantly, leaving two girls writhing in pain with shrapnel wounds. The horrible scenes on the other side of the divide are not different. Some days before people there protested and begged the rulers of the two countries to end this vicious circle. The tragedy that shook the Devta villagers have left them in shock and deep resentment. The people are fed up with the kind of ‘life’ they have to go through. ‘Stop this daily fire and either go for peace or go for war’ the distraught families scream. That shows how awfully painful the life has become for them. In destruction they feel bliss!
This is not natural calamity that has struck on border inhabitants. This is man-made massacre, the cold-blooded murder. Only to satisfy the inflated egos of the callously insensitive rulers and top brass, addicted on the daily opium the corporate media feeds them. All of them have blood on their hands. Since it is the poor powerless lot that are snuffed out on routine their blood fetches cheap in the corridors of power. Should the tragedy strike on those holding power and delivering threats to the other, they would have realized how unbearable it is to bear the pain such tragedies unfold. But then the culture of democracy the region is evolving to or growing up erects all fortresses to the VVIPs, exposing the aam admi to all kinds of trouble and miseries. So it is for the vulnerable majority to raise a unified voice to force rulers to give up rigidity and evolve a mechanism to settle the dispute border killings are an offshoot of.