Arshid Malik

“Kashmir Imbroglio”, “Kashmir Issue”, The Kashmir Problem”, “Conflict in Kashmir”, “Kashmir Insurgency”, “Militancy in Kashmir”, “The Plebiscite Issue of Kashmir” – Kashmir has been terminologically swathed by a plethora of word conjectures by writers, journalists, think tanks, political analysts and all to a point that the real meaning, the exacting issue, has lost relevance to a degree that people hardly want to talk or write about it anymore.  What is the real issue at hand and what all have people been talking and writing about in the past from which they stand to desist now? The real issue is the people who live down here and what all they do, think and want for themselves or the collective self. By all means the conclaves of terms that have been employed to describe and discuss Kashmir have stood in the way of addressing the people who live here.  Writers, thinkers, political pundits, et al have coupled Kashmir with negativist terms and since it has always been the negative that dominates arenas of critical debate and discussion the matter has lost relevance with the terminological nuance. The scope for a positivistic approach to Kashmir by way of addressing the issue in a more popular sense has not evolved till date and thereof the “debate” has somewhat stopped. This notes a point of departure of the global general humanistic association with Kashmir.

Violence attracts writing and discourse. And the seeming absence of it dispenses off all dialectic closure.The common perception that has percolated due to the intervention of some very secretive and some quite extravagant efforts of pro-establishment organizations and the establishment itself is that of the “return of peace and normalcy to the valley of Kashmir”. I very much refute these claims of “normalcy” and “peace” since it is the people living here who are face to face with the silent onslaught of covert violence that has held sway down here even after the comprehensible “downfall” of the armed insurgency. What the daily tells you is never even close to what actually is happening.There may have been periods of comparative peace and normalcy but these were significantly precarious in their very presence when extrapolated on the long categorical context of war-scale violence that has dominated recent history of the people of Kashmir. Whatsoever, there is a certain cross-contemplative attitude that people outside Kashmir and to a certain extent within Kashmir carry which is directly proportional to the reportage from within Kashmir – most of it being sponsored or subjugated to an elitist sentiment of financial belonging. The actual case in point, the condition of the people of Kashmir has been categorically withdrawn from.

The point is that if there is violence in Kashmir, Kashmir is a “topic” and once the paraphrasing of peace turns routine all relevance bears semblance to a parabolic “not so hot” kind of an attitude. The writers, the commentators, the activists and all leave Kashmir to tend to itself and that has been the case for a long time now – I guess ever since the security forces and police in Kashmir started figuring that the “number of militants” have gone down to a “handful” in Kashmir(while no one kept score of bullets fired directly at people here); but what about the sentiment of the people of Kashmir? “What sentiment”, a scribe from outside the Valley recently quizzed me, adding, “Are you speaking about the Azaadi sentiment”? I caved in since I was not myself sure what I had been talking about. There are people in my own circles who do not give a “rat’s ass” to anything that may develop a seizure within India for the Kashmiri Muslims. Well, I was not sure of myself then and when I deliberated on the matter I found that it was not the sentiment of “Azaadi” that I had been discussing howsoever the barrage of the term all over social networking sites and the sentiment of negativity attached to it, enrolled the term into my own unassuming lexicon and my unassuming-self got painted into the corner. This is what terminology does to things. I have always been uncomfortable with terminology especially where people are involved, for instance the Muslim from Kashmir has metamorphosed into an abbreviation “KM” while the Pandit has been abbreviated to “KP”. Then there is the “K-issue” which sounds like a protocol defining the parameters of the G8 Summit. It is very degrading since the entity these terms and abbreviated forms represent are loaded with prejudice and faulty history. Let me abstain from digressing and connect the dots. What I am meaning to say is that there is a deep-set sense of injustice within the collective Kashmiri psyche and howsoever rational and pro-democracy one might get witty about there is no isolating this sense of injustice since it has percolated in proper conjunction with real-time atrocities committed by the Indian forces stationed down here. The very presence of the Indian soldier on our streets is an injustice to us Kashmiris for he is the historic emblem of violations, right’s abuses, rapes and murders committed here. He is violating the sanctity of our land and unerringly keeping the sentiment of affliction boiling at a constant. Besides, violations of human rights at the hands of Indian military paraphernalia stationed in Kashmir have not exactly hit “rock bottom”. So the people of Kashmir are hurting and this hurt is not healing till more hurt follows.

It is a pitiful subject that only petty word conjunctures (the latest being a well-loaded document “staged” by Amnesty International) have been drawing attention to Kashmir and its people. Why is it that the dissociation of writers, thinkers and political analysts and yes especially the media – which survives on the very culture of violence – and the demise of further terminological extension of the debate has led to the isolation of the collective conscience of Kashmiri people into a trap-door sentiment of negation. The people of Kashmir are as alive and as dead as they were 25 years ago and their problems remain the same  except for the fact that the television and the commercialization of culture and the culture of commercialization has paved inlets for a deliberated long term association with the “reasonable Indian” and the “reasonable India”. Whatever way you look at Kashmir, when you are actually looking and not searching for clues to your new paper or book on the subject, you will land grief, pain and injustice.


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