Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Of Scapegoats and Separatists

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq’s cap is symbolic. The story goes that the minute he reaches Delhi, he wants to take it off. It isn’t capitulation, but the heavy burden that was thrust on him after his father’s death when he was just 17; Mirwaiz is an inherited religious position. The nerd-like chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference’s moderate faction has to be moderate, religious, leader and separatist. It is a whole lot of eggs in one basket, a basket made of the thinnest straw.

All the separatist leaders are walking on eggshells. The roots of Kashmiri separatism are embedded in the Indian Constitution. At the time it was a case of no options, now it is a tool to chisel or hammer as the occasion demands. All this talk of resolution is just talk.

Until now it was only the politicians who took the high moral ground. Now, militant organisations too have joined in. It isn’t anymore about democracy versus separatism, but ‘show old women being carried to voting booths’ democracy versus ‘poll boycott’ democracy.

Sajjad Lone decides to contest elections from Baramullah. Instead of giving a straightforward reason, he says, “morally it was impossible for me to continue without seeing if I enjoy people’s support.”

This would be seen as a moderate stand. Let us rewind to 2002. His father Abdul Gani Lone was killed. He had once commented that his life was in danger “wherein many guns work at the same time.”

Sajjad says today: “At the end of the day, the man who takes up the gun is responsible for his own actions. We can’t criticise them because we are not risking our lives, but, as a Kashmiri, I feel politics should have a much bigger role in the current world scenario.”

It would be premature to see this as a cop-out. No militant has ever asked to be shielded and, whether they carry guns or not, people are put behind bars.

I do not know what Sajjad’s idea of morality is and why it is so important when the ground realities require a bit more than kahwah for the soul. Will he be indebted to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, whose father Dr. Farooq had cut down the senior Lone’s security by half when he was in cahoots with the NDA government? Seriously, what morals are we discussing? When did the National Conference last talk about bringing peace to Kashmir with the Hurriyat?

Omar Abdullah who is sitting in as CM – and, make no mistake, this is a papa-run enterprise for after he was sworn in, the father started humming a Hindi film song, “Papa kehte hai bada naam karega, beta hamara aisa kaam karega… (the son will bring fame and make the father proud)” – has clearly said there is nothing like soft separatism. “We believe autonomy is the way forward. And it is within the constitution.”

So, why is he a legitimate leader and the others separatists? They all talk about better roads, education, and employment. How many pay heed to the figures of undertrials given by human rights organisations? Separatism in some areas is seen as the ideal, many ‘innocent civilians’ are in fact supporters of militancy. Local organisations in the Kashmir Valley were the result of disgruntled groups who waited for some solution. They were young people who had seen members of their families killed. I emphasise young because these polls are about youth icons and almost all the leaders in Kashmir fit the bill.

During the last assembly elections, the venerable Times of India got a market research agency to survey young people in various cities on the Kashmir issue. Rather tellingly, Kashmir was not on the list. Jammu was. Their questions were of the kneejerk variety: Should India let go of Kashmir? Has Kashmir been pampered by the Centre? Can it ever be integrated into the mainstream? Should India hold on to it whatever the cost? If Kashmir secedes, would it be under greater threat?

68% wanted Kashmir, even though it has been neglected by the Centre and yet they believed that it could be integrated into the mainstream. Why did the poll not spell out clearly what it conveys? Are we talking about scrapping Article 370 so that our yuppies can invest in property for their sloping-down-the-Gulmarg-snow moment?

Although 59 per cent said they wanted India to keep Kashmir even if the human and economic costs were high, they felt that Kashmir’s secession would be a greater risk to the country. Great urban analysis. Let our soldiers and civilians die, let the country spend a fortune protecting a weak border. Why? Because the threat is less than if the Kashmiris were to leave to start on their own. What does this mean? If the threat is after they have left, then we are under less threat now? Does this imply that the Kashmir issue is not such a big problem and the Kashmiris are just fine? Therefore, someone has been making scapegoats of them all these years!

Urban stupidity was in full public view because the newspaper carried a picture of protestors in Srinagar that went against its own poll findings.

This is even more relevant in these general elections. Interestingly, commentators on national television are suggesting that there should be a separate box in booths in the whole country for the electorate to vote for ‘no candidate’. What right do we then have to question a poll boycott in Kashmir, which says the same thing, only in a less sophisticated way? Cynicism and protest aren’t the prerogative of pontificators.

FARZANA VERSEY is a Mumbai-based columnist and author of A Journey Interrupted: Being Indian in Pakistan, Harper Collins, India. She can be reached at kaaghaz.kalam@gmail.com

More articles by:

Farzana Versey can be reached at Cross Connections

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail