Thursday, July 5, 2012

Giving peace a chance!

The sudden loss of the most venerated shrine of Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani, popularly known in Kashmir as the Dastageer Sahab, did not result in a massive upheaval as was apprehended by the authorities. They clamped down the strictest undeclared curfew over the capital city and other places in the valley fearing a backlash. The people on their own observed a shutdown for five days notwithstanding the fact that almost all organisations had given a call a call for one or two days. The shock suffered by the people manifested itself in a complete paralysis of the normal life. In fact, after the shutdown, the economically aligned groups like the chamber of commerce, asked people to open all businesses and they did it! Now, the each side must be taking credit for first having the entire people confined to their homes to prevent disturbances and then the other having asked them to open up which directive they followed. However, the behaviour of the people is not what appears apparently or what various sides claim to be! It seems that over the years and because of the many upheavals people have become more mature and understand all the gimmickry and can see through various machinations. Kashmiris are an intelligent race. This has been acclaimed by many outsiders right from the earliest Greek historians. The time has also taught them to be great survivors. Otherwise no nation would have survived the centuries of worst oppression seen anywhere in the world! They know when to keep quiet and when to rise up with all their might. Having risen if they feel that it is difficult to carry on right to the end because the price one has to pay is too heavy, they just stop surprising everyone around them. However, this sudden quietness should not be taken to mean that they have given up. It is part of a strategy which involves a long drawn out struggle for final emancipation. Kashmiris never give up! History is a witness to this. In the present scenario, the people have intelligently made out that repeated attempts are being made by vested interests to create dissension on one or the other pretext. It is also understood by the people that a continuous covert attempt is being made to weaken the economic base of the valley. If the valley sinks economically, the losers are the people. If the various factions and parties fight among themselves, the losers again are the people. So they know how to act in different situations which totally baffle the observers within Kashmir as well as outside. The funniest part is some leaders first apologising to the people for causing them inconvenience by the imposition of restrictions worse than curfew without declaring it and then thanking the leaders of the popular movement for having co-operated with the authorities in maintaining peace! One cannot be more hypocritical or na├»ve than this. They should also apologise to the people for having failed in revoking the draconian legislations giving unbridled power to the security forces for violating human rights with impunity. This being so in spite of umpteen promises made through public statements and declarations. They should also be apologising to the people for having failed in getting back power projects from the so called East India Company known to us as NHPC in spite of their declared resolve to do so! After going through some of the worst situations during last couple of decades, the people are giving peace a chance. The authorities at Delhi and in Srinagar should grab the opportunity to really give a break to the people instead of mistakenly feeling jubilant that they have been able to cow them down. The first thing is to remove the security foot-prints in practical terms rather than in a symbolic way only. Revoke the AFSPA, the Public Safety Act and the Disturbed Areas Act. Remove security bunkers and pickets from all civilian areas. Implement honestly and sincerely the entire cross LOC confidence building measures regarding free travel and trade. Authorities must have understood by now that the economy overrides the sentiments if it is genuinely cared for. Even the people on the other side of the divide are reported to be clamouring for “Azadi”! The motivating factor there too has been the undue and unnecessary curbs from Islamabad. Thus, the ideal situation is to allow the people from both the sides to meet and exchange ideas freely. The solution to the supposedly most intractable problem will evolve automatically. The process can begin only if the two antagonistic neighbours too decide to give peace a chance. They have been going up and down the ladders of peace. The greatest roadblock is the deep mistrust. Again the mistrust cannot go away through the meeting of the elites on two sides. There too they have to give a chance to the grass roots people to meet each other and trade without any hindrance. The fate of not only Kashmiris but more than two billion people of the sub-continent depends on this. Will the peace really get a chance, only time will decide! (Comments at ashrafmjk@gmail.com)

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