Who Will Lead Us Through?

Shams Irfan
Shams Irfan

Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures. True. But it is the extraordinary people who actually create nations out of aspirations and revolutions.

However, in Kashmir context, people with extraordinary ability to guide any mass moment to a conclusive end have been desired for long.

Disappointing as it may sound but no single name comes to mind when one talks about leaders in the valley. None enjoy[ed] undisputed faith of the masses.

It would be wrong to presume that genuine efforts were not made by the people of Kashmir to find an able leadership who could have voiced their concerns at international platforms. Search for such a talent is on ever since we [Kashmiris] learned to say no to injustice and yes to free-will.

Unfortunately there is no strong voice audible yet; all one can hear are incoherent cries of the distressed people who have been suffering silently at the hands of heartless forces shielded by draconian laws.

The history of Kashmir itself is full of examples where lack of able leadership has disappointed the masses time and again. No single person or party has ruled over the hearts and minds of the people, ever!

Even leader like Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who commanded god-like following in Kashmir, has to face criticism and public ire for stooping in front of Indian government for ‘personal’ as well as political gains. The young born-in-conflict generation of Kashmiris still blame him for his infamous accord with then Prime Minister of India Mrs Indira Gandhi in 1975. After his death in 1982, it is said that people tried to desecrate his grave as a revenge for his pro-Indian stance. Later his son and former Chief Minister of Kashmir Dr Farooq Abdullah posted armed guards for his father’s protection but failed to change the public opinion.

But his comrade turned political rival Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad [Prime Minister of Kashmir] who enjoyed almost equal public support and trust during his hey days, was saved from any such posthumous hatred.

At that critical juncture in history, when the fate of Kashmir was hanging in balance, people were split between these two leaders. No single person or party managed to represent the sentiments of the ordinary Kashmiris who have been suffering silently and indefinitely at the hands of the defunct political system, often run by the people in New Delhi.

Unfortunately this vacuum created by the lack of leadership post 1947 has once again given rise to doubts in Kashmir. There is no strong or clear voice among Kashmiri leadership who can lead the present movement to its conclusive end. Or even help in negotiating the terms of truce with the Indian government who have been on the unstoppable rampage in the valley ever since people opted for the non-violent means of protests.

In June 2010, I travelled a lot, from extreme south to the north of Kashmir, and back to centre i.e. Srinagar.

My trips were mostly for recreation by at the same time I often tried to gauge the mood of the common Kashmiris living in the most disconnected villages, to ascertain their idea of freedom, peace and above all life.

But the confusion and chaos that has filled people’s lives in last twenty-five years looms large over their visage.

With discord among separatist leaders, who busy themselves in fighting personal battles, has left entire generation of Kashmiris at the mercy of a heartless regime.

Hope we learn to rise above egos and feel the pain of common Kashmiris who have sacrificed their lives for a breath of fresh air flowing from vast pasture lands that are free.

– Author can be reached at [email protected]

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