Team Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir showed up again this week after a brief lull in their public appearance. The occasion appeared fitting when an activist (after his death) was honoured with an award institutionalized in the name of a soul famous for recording miseries of Kashmiris under Dogra rule (buried in Srinagar since 1868).
Robert Thorp Award 2013 was conferred to a mathematician-turned-lawyer-turned social activist, Dr K Balagopal posthumously. It is the same award which was previously bestowed posthumously to Jaleel Andrabi, an ace human rights lawyer of the state in 2006.
After the award ceremony, many spoke about “Jammu and Kashmir and role of Indian civil society”. While most confined their speeches in reflecting works of Thorp and Balagopal for Kashmir, Gautam Navlakha, a noted human rights activist hit the bull’s eye. Without wandering, he spoke about the ‘renaissance’ of vision of Indian civil society towards Kashmir.
“There is a change in their [Indian civil society] vision about Kashmir,” he told audience. “Of course, civil society of 1990’s and that of post 2008 aren’t same. They aren’t silent over Kashmir. It is just that nationalistic feelings have blinded them.”
Now that summarizes it all. This so called “nationalistic” feeling which is obviously running very deep in most of the Indians is mother of all mess. Maoists are outlaws, as rest of the ‘patriots’ don’t give a damn to heed their plight. All nationalistic feeling sublimates on such occasions.
And then, there is a Modi like ‘larger than life’ politician in India who is aptly cashing his corporate messiah image to paddle towards Prime Minister’s post. Nobody talks about 2002. No nationalistic feelings in exhibition there. All that matters is 2013 Gujarat where corporate sun is smiling like a Warren Buffet’s investment prodigal.
Surely, India is moving forward and Indian civil society is changing, but only its colours. Muzzafarabad riots matter to none. Things seem spiced up over Tehelka man at the moment. “Lapse in Judgment” case appears national prying, but miserable plight of Muslims sent in makeshift tents in Uttar Pradesh is nobody’s crying. Indeed, a curious case of nationalistic blindness.
But when it comes to Kashmir, the same nationalism touches new height of blindness. This summer witnessed the first public appearance of the rape victims of Kunan Poshpora who broke their silence after enduring 22 years of mental trauma. Their wounds haven’t healed yet. Their life hasn’t been the same. And yet, there is no clue of justice.
Now lately, army is attempting to save the skin of their brethren who carried dastardly act of mass-rape (in the grab of impunity) on the night of Feb 23, 1991 at Kunan Poshpora village of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. One wonders at the nation which stood like a rock behind Nirbhaya of Delhi gang-rape victim fell and is falling again and again silent over mass-rape in Kashmir. There wasn’t and there isn’t any hue and cry over the disgraceful episode which merely ashamed India’s external minister, Salman Khurshid the last time he visited Kashmir.
And if one believes what Navlakha is saying that Indian civil society isn’t silent over Kashmir, then why no soothing words were ever whispered till now for these victims? Isn’t silence itself a shaming act on such events? But then, it is no hidden truth that when it comes to Kashmir, yardstick flips in opposite direction.
Therefore, Mr Gautam Navlakha, you are right, old chap. Nationalism does blind a nation.
(The author is literature graduate from Srinagar)