Shakeel Bakhshi in an interview with Tasavur Mushtaq
Kashmir Life: How would you describe the current situation in Kashmir?
Shakeel Bakhshi: It is a flashpoint. The key to peace of subcontinent lies in de-escalation of the situation that prevails this time.
KL: There is a feeling that pro-freedom camp has not been able to take forward the gains they made in summer protests of 2008 to 2010. How do you view it?
SB: This is a question to leaders who were leading all this. To me, it is the evolutionary process as the freedom movement evolves through mistakes, blunders, and achievements. The urge of fulfilling the goal is yet to be there. It is not maximizing but to become energetic to have more struggle.
KL: What are the challenges of pro-freedom leadership in the backdrop of New Delhi’s attempt to deal with dissent also through economic development?
SB: The freedom movement is not comprised only of leadership. It is many other ninety-nine components. The worst drawback to the freedom struggle happens to be in economic crisis or poverty due to conflict. But thanks to those who manage economic self-sufficiency despite being caught in conflict or war zone.
KL: Your active participation on Facebook contributed to the reason state finally arrested you last year and kept you incarcerated for several months. What is your take?
SB: When the forces have the power to kill anybody, it hardly matters for them to just involve someone in any crime. As far as Facebook is concerned they kill two birds with one stone. They did not arrest me for my Facebook activity, there were no grounds as such but they scared thousands of users not to use Facebook. They failed to do so. Facebook still is as relevant alternate media as it was before. The benefit of Facebook is that it does not need advertisements to run and neither policy dictation from the army camps.
KL: Through your Facebook posts you have always emphasized the importance of memory and history. Can you explain?
SB: To start understanding history is beginning of political wisdom. As it is the period of resolution, so the people should have the wit of all previous events and to know when we have failed to take the statesmanship decisions. Occupational devices always try to detach their subjugates from their history, from their past sacrifices and heroic deeds. I want to be with people through history so as to be part of it.
KL: How do you see the debate on laws like AFSPA and PSA?
SB: To me, the worst draconian action was the invasion. Laws like AFSPA, PSA are its offshoots of that aggression. I want an end to this invasion; rest of these laws will fall like rotten apples.
KL: What is your experience with incarceration under PSA?
SB: Last year was not my first detention under PSA. I have been tasting it since 1980’s. This is executive detention and politicians want to silence all those voices who they believe will foil their decisions and designs.
KL: Recently all the accused of pitch digging were acquitted. Tell us something about that event of 1983?
SB: I was not part of that but witness I am. It was October 13, 1983, and Farooq Abdullah was chief minister. He was considered to be pro-Khalistan movement and anti-national which he never was. In public, they used to sell their anti-India sentiment for power and deep inside strengthening the roots of occupation. The motive behind organizing international cricket match in this disputed land by Farooq Abdullah was part of that strategy. Still, after doing this he was dethroned just after one year because he was accused of being secessionist.
The real freedom fighters used this occasion to foil the myth that real freedom is not someone becoming rhetorical and anti-Delhi-Darbar but to have resistance on the ground by digging the pitch. Though our nation at that time was not so much mature. But someone has to make history, so they made it.
Interesting, in that case, was when Raj Kumar of Delhi who applauded for the boundary and entire stadium was in dead silence. People pounced upon him and he was beaten to the pulp. To save himself he jumped to the ground and police took him as well as a member of the group accused of digging the pitch.
KL: How do you see Kashmir in next ten years?
SB: It will be almost nearer to best dream and cherished goal.
KL: Can you explain?
SB: Visionary leaders have the vision to see across the decades. I am looking towards the silver lights rather because the world cannot afford a disturbing Kashmir in front of American fascism and ‘dragonian’ moves. They cannot afford to have Kashmir- a paradise for their evil designs.
KL: Pro-freedom camp is divided. What is your take?
SB: They are products of movement so one man should not comment on products. The movement is there. My movement is united. People are with the goal. They are leading the leaders.
KL: We have came across with conversion issues in Kashmir. What is your reaction?
SB: This is not a grave issue for me to have three thousand conversions in the population of seventy lakhs. To me what is a matter of concern is the revelation by Justice Kirmani when he said that in Kashmir forty thousand girls adopted prostitution. The reason for that is that they had nothing to eat. Our religious scholars should reflect upon this problem. Daughters of my nation should not sell their chastity; we should come up with concrete measures to rescue them.