The Father Error
In 1996 , Jam’at-e-Islami J&K, under the then Amir, G M Bhat, unexpectedly pulled back from the armed struggle. The then Amir-e-Jam’at, in his repeated statements, emphatically denied any association with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen; a militant group commonly believed to be the armed wing of JI. In a frantic sort of way Bhat Sahab fended off the Army-driven-Ikhwan-accomplished onslaught on Jam’at workers. Somehow he succeeded in saving the manpower and also regaining a toehold on the ground (above ground!). What seemed impossible before Bhat Sahab took the initiative, Jam’at crawled its way back into public spaces. JI offices opened up, members started pouring into the offices, Ijtimas and public speeches started happening; and finally the holes drilled into the dark tunnel by Bhat Sahab started bringing in much light. Though an intense debate raged about what the then JI Amir did, but he went on firmly with his mind; in the process denying blatantly an association what he could only have known more than others existed under the skin. The good and bad of that decision aside, G M Bhat was convinced to core that JI cannot survive in a cave while it was hunted down ruthlessly by Army, Paramilitary forces, Special Operations Group, and armed gangsters patronised by Indian security establishments. He came out in the open and braved what his decision entailed.
It was just in those days that I chance met an acquaintance. Pleasantries, reminiscences and a convergence at the renewed JI public activities. Like a parenthetic remark, he wanted me to attend one such programme. I expressed a quandary; JI worked through 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, and finally that all led to 1990s. Now frightened at what 1990s brought to it, JI urgently wants to restore the original settings, deleting 1990s. How do we assure ourselves that it won’t lead again to 1990s! Running away from the consequences, and repeating the experiment that brought those consequences, how does it add up!
Jam’at still evades that dilemma and goes on with its activities unmindful of the contradiction that the whole thing harbours. And it is not JI alone sung in the face of this contradiction. No honest and thoughtful response is forthcoming from anywhere, and clarity eludes us all.
It was again in mid to late 1990s that some of the known militant leaders chose politics as an alternative way of resistance. It never undermines their past, nor does it question their eligibility to pursue a non-violent path to accomplish a political goal. However, the urge to know clearly what made them realise that non-violent political resistance is the way ahead, persists.
Now take Geelani Sahab. His case is more curios than all. He is, at times, brutally honest to condemn certain things, even at the cost of public displeasure. But next moment he succumbs, leaving us all gaping. Take his statements on stone pelting, armed underground groups, prolonged hartals, arrange them and wonder how he manages to sail in two boats. Though he doesn’t escape blame, but he is a victim of a contradiction that we all carry in our minds. Our confused minds shadow him and in turn his shadows us.
In his biography Geelani Shab has sufficiently thrown light on how armed groups went on piling wrong over wrong – Musallah Jadujuhad ki Firoguzashtain. I think it is one of the most honest, and direct, accounts of what the militant groups did in their heydays. Credit goes to Geelani Sahab for producing this critique without undermining the resistance per se, and staying unmistakably outside the India-managed stage of propaganda. We have many people underlining the wrongs in the post 1989 resistance – both armed and political – and they are not always wrong in what they say. The problem is with their Positioning and Purpose. Gelani Sahab, unlike those propagandists-masquerading-as-critics, positions himself with the people of Kashmir and his purpose remains the same; Freedom, for which some people thought armed resistance was the way.
It seems that Geelani Sahab’s mind is very clear on certain things, but the overall atmosphere that we have created – thanks to our fickle mindedness – doesn’t spare him. He wants to lay foundation of a political movement that can carry forward the task of reclaiming freedom – snatched from us by India. In this, some over-rasdicalised activists, and some extremely superficial minds, make him say things that contradict his overall political vision and practice. That is how one receives his statements seemingly justifying the revival of armed resistance.
If Jamat-e-Islami, many militant commanders, and the father figure of resistance – Geelani Sahab – all understood in their particular way that armed resistance produced more problems than it ventured to solve, why say and do things that somehow prepare the ground for a renewed bout of violence. At least, we can clearly demarcate our positions and do away with some contradictions. That will save us frequent public embarrassment and also weed out the unnecessary elements from our socio-political agenda. It is an indefensible error to persist in contradiction while resisting a cunning and oppressive coloniser. And here his what Maududi Shab once said about error:
Ghalati Kabhi Baanjh Nahi Hoti
Error is never barren.
By committing one fundamental error we father many blunders. And this family of blunders consumes our already insufficient energies to fight out an enemy that is monstrous, in whatever way you look at him