Thursday, August 9, 2012
Fatigue or prudence!
For the last couple of years, Kashmir has witnessed more or less a peaceful situation. Even though there have been off and on sporadic incidents, yet the general atmosphere has been quiet and calm. There has been unprecedented rush of tourists. Notwithstanding the fact that these tourists are not the high end ones contributing to local economy, Kashmir has been swamped with visitors from all over the country and even abroad. At one point, people were virtually sleeping on roads as there were no hotel rooms available. Apart from normal pleasure loving tourists, there have been more than half a million pilgrims visiting the Amarnath cave. In fact, many people have expressed concern about the adverse impact of such a large influx of tourists and pilgrims on the fragile environment. One of the main misleading indicators of normalcy has been the number of tourists visiting Kashmir. Tourism has been wrongly taken to be a barometer of political normalcy. A certain quiet with the life carrying on normally does not mean that the common Kashmiris have reconciled to their political status quo. Temporarily resigning to their fate quite often misleads the outsiders about the real ground situation in Kashmir. It is very difficult for foreigners to know what is really in the heart of a Kashmiri. He rarely opens up his true heart to an outsider! In this regard, he has mastered the art of deception and pretention to completely confuse many outside analysts. Centuries of oppression by various outside forces have taught him the art of survival. He knows when to remain quiet and when to burst out in full fury regardless of consequences. No doubt he is emotional and sentimental, yet at the same time he is prudent. Interestingly, the same misconception about the real nature of a Kashmiri seems to have deceived the propagators of the “Heart is My Weapon” doctrine. The very use of the word weapon makes it look like some sort of a war through other means. Winning hearts does not need a weapon but the means to use the humanitarian way to soothe and redress the grievances. They have considered 2011 as a turning point in terms of winning the peace. No doubt, there has been peace in 2011 as well as during the current year but it does not reveal the true ground situation or the real inner feelings of a Kashmiri. The people claiming to have applied the doctrine in Kashmir have assumed that Kashmiris are tired and fatigued. This is their first wrong assumption. Kashmiri may appear sometimes tired and fatigued and may even seem reconciled but in reality, it is a transient phase and his temporary reconciliation is out of prudence rather than fatigue. The “Heart is My Weapon” doctrine is not a new discovery. In almost all local conflict areas where the populations have risen in revolt against the colonising powers, this doctrine has been applied to buy temporary peace. It has not solved the underlying political problems but given only some reprieve and ultimately, the colonisers have had to vacate the colonised territories. In case, they do not want to act as colonisers but honestly mean to appear as true friends of the people, the doctrine has to be applied only by effecting drastic changes on the ground. In the present context, at the moment it is applied exclusively to wean away people from supporting the armed insurgents. It is true a Guerrilla fighter has been compared to a fish moving in water. If it is deprived of this water, it will die! To buy temporary peace Sadbhavana and other measures including cricket matches, bus tours or providing various facilities may be good steps but these cannot remove the deep rooted alienation. To really win the hearts one has to be honest and sincere and has also to appear to be acting like that. At present the exercise seems like taming of a wild bear for performing in a circus! It is the use of stick and carrot which is never a long term solution. One appears to be saying, “I am strong and you cannot defeat me. So it is better for you to reconcile and maintain peace”! Sincere effort at winning the hearts would require in the first instance both the physical scaling down of the military apparatus in the civilian areas and the curtailing of the unbridled powers without accountability of the security forces. The other requirement would be allowing freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution regardless of what the people want to say. It is only once people are allowed freely to express their views that one can think of a dialogue. It is true that violence is not going to get us a solution. Peace is the only way forward. But it has to be peace with honour and dignity. Not an imposed peace which ultimately results in the peace of a graveyard. The least basic requirement is to allow Kashmiris to enjoy unhindered the same basic human rights as are enjoyed by the other citizens of India. It would also necessitate administering justice in all pending cases of the violation of human rights. There is a popular saying that justice must not only be done but must appear to have been done! Unless this is the underlying spirit, all doctrines for the winning of hearts become meaningless. The propagators of these would appear to be suffering from illusions by mistaking Kashmiri’s prudence for fatigue resulting in an unpredictable and unexpected shock sometime in the future! (Comments at firstname.lastname@example.org)