Deeds of a Democracy

Arshid Malik

“Political campaigns are designedly made into emotional orgies which endeavor to distract attention from the real issues involved, and they actually paralyze what slight powers of cerebration man can normally muster.” – James Harvey Robinson

Kashmir is on the boil again. Are we to thank the establishment for putting Kashmir on the burner once again or perhaps the myopic statesmanship of the Indian political elite? I fail to understand. The only thing I know, as does everyone else who is a Kashmiri or a non-Kashmiri fully aware of the state-of-affairs in the valley, is that it is a whole rutty mess.

Post manufacturing what I cannot help calling a political torpedo coursing a pragmatic innuendo, Union Home Minister of India, Sushil Kumar Shinde has stated that the recent suicide attack in Srinagar is a pointer to the fact that the government has to remain “very alert” in Kashmir Valley, adding that it is difficult to predict when terror will strike. While I am trying to gauge whether the Home Minister’s comment/remark was subtly hinting at sending in a few more battalions into Kashmir and using more of its best known brutalities against the people of Kashmir or actually exercising some restraint when dealing with the agitated mobs down in Kashmir, I am also wondering as to what was Shinde thinking along with the rest of the political elite of India when a “secretive” and “rushed-off” execution of Afzal Guru was planned and carried through?

Perhaps New Delhi was thinking that with nearly one lakh people already murdered in the past more than two decades in the Kashmir valley, what would another cold blooded murder withhold? While the issue at hand is being debated aggressively, the most common assumption being drawn is that the Congress planned the execution of Guru to build a trust vote over the edge with the opposition. But the question is that was this political party so “high” with the potions of political power that it really underestimated the intensity of the reverberations of the death penalty? It is either this or that the Center was fully aware of the political implications of Guru’s hanging and “did it intentionally to lead to the creation of another decade or so of conflict in Kashmir”. I am not drawing conclusions here but only contemplating what could have happened. Going by the comments of the Home Minister, the former most seemingly was the case and the establishment has now come to senses and evolved with a strategy of staying “very alert” in and about Kashmir. For obvious reasons, the quoted “alertness” was not a part of the execution plan of Afzal which actually may amount to an eventual pogrom.

While the valley was burning with anger, the establishment and its so-called security and enforcement agencies lashed out at the common people in Kashmir and killed quite a handful and injured hundreds of people. Homes are being ransacked in Kashmir by the “security paraphernalia” which, against prescribes of the State Human Rights Commission, blatantly used pepper gas to immobilize protestors so that they could be beaten to pulp thereafter.

What was the establishment thinking while attempting to control angst-ridden people of Kashmir? Of course the agenda was to force, yes, brutally force the population to stay indoors and enjoy the “comforts of direct-to-home broadcasts of song and drama”. How is that even remotely possible? You hang a person till death who is “not even completely proven to have participated in the crime” – a point reflected by the intelligentsia of the country – without informing the one you are about to hang till you actually hang him and the family of the murdered is not even informed about the death sentence being carried out except for an envelope which reached the family long after Afzal was gone and then you are “taken by surprise” when the whole population connected to his very existence goes fiery. What is the point that the Central government was attempting to prove?

The Congress party was allowed an excuse in the manner that it just had to apologize to a nation almost full of people who in every sense are against death sentences for the execution and you could not even allow them that much in the name of democracy. Why? Is it the political ego of the Congress party which is holding the reigns in New Delhi that could not actually facilitate an apology or is it the commonplace resoluteness of political parties which always want to ride the backs of common citizens all the time and relish their assumed powerlessness? The Congress did a good deed to democracy one may say by exerting a push that would lead to its eventual downfall. It did a good deed to the people of Kashmir too for you cannot actually say “sorry” and expect an actual angst-ridden population to transgress its collective psyche and settle down. But yet, they could have done that and “not done” what they “did do” to democracy and its ideals.

Now, the people of Kashmir are asking for the dead body of Afzal Guru and you won’t accede to this “more of pre-condition” than an “actual plea”. You plainly reject it. If you are planning to maintain some law and order in Kashmir then you should hand over the dead body to the people it belongs to so that they can carry out the religious rites for the deceased and obviously that would vent some anger and perhaps shape a degree or more of peace. For after all, for the Indian establishment Afzal Guru is a “terrorist” who was “rightly sentenced to death” but for the people of Kashmir he is a martyr, a true martyr and martyrs, specifically those who do not die fighting out in the field but are captured, kept and then murdered by the “enemy forces” draw quite a following. Such martyrs spark revolutions and history is replete with such instinctual discourses and by all means it “buys us” some pretext for the very recent suicide attack in Kashmir.

Well, by all means the establishment did what it thought was right for itself without considering the practical subtexts of the same that would spring up and there are only two contemplations that force their entry into the actual text and they are: a) Was the Congress party committed to a political orgy when it decided on and carried out the execution of Guru or b) Was it the very characteristic neo-colonial apathy of the Indian state?

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