Terror of the time

ANANYA S GUHA

Instead of continuously harping on the same theme, blaming Pakistan, and playing this game for decades, it is time that the Government seriously tries to resolve the Kashmir issue. And this cannot be done by sending the Indian Army which does not draw any boundaries in dealing with its own people, and using strangulating laws like the AFSPA. Most of the damage done to the North East India, and the alienation that the people there felt and still feel is because of this draconian law which gives impunity to kill, without any use of the law. The Supreme Court’s recent stricture against the AFSPA is a case in point where the Apex Court of the country has said in no uncertain terms that the law is applicable for everyone, a criminal or a terrorist. By sending the Army to combat people within the country is a harsh error of judgement that we have been making again and again. We have not learnt lessons in North East India or from the past. The fact is that the feelings of alienation and subjugation that the people of this part of the region feels still continues.

In Kashmir, it is war time once again. Whether Wani was killed by accident or design is not the point. The point is that the people have built forces of resistance against the Army which they consider have occupied their land. This may not be construed as anti-Indian. It is a coming together of a people, for whom suffering has been a way of life, but for whom the Indian Army is a symbol of injustice and attack. The same happened and is still happening in North East India. Irom Sharmila’s resistance is just that, taking its guard from an incident which she saw happening before her very eyes. Does her protest make her less Indian? We have reached a situation where dissent or questioning the law is construed as anti-Indian sentiment.

Children, men and women being blinded and maimed as is happening in Kashmir is worse than death. The suffering of people helpless, wounded even famished is a sign of anarchy of the times. Blame it all on Pakistan, but Pakistan will call it illegal occupation.

And in the midst of all this the press has been gagged. The voices of the fourth estate cannot be ruthlessly banned like this. This points towards a fact that the entire peoples and community are branded as traitors or are against the Indian Government.

From bullets to pellets. The intent is the same. Alienation and more alienation. The over hundred unmarked graves in the valley remain a symbol of the state’s death wish and the recalcitrance urge of a people to resist brute force, men in uniforms and the feeling that the entire population is manned by terrorists and forces of an undying separatism. The question is why, the roots of this apathy, the history of the state, the present state government established in a hurry for very short term gains. If this is working, it is fine, but it is not. By pinning faith in two families ever since independence- the Abdullahs and the Muftis the government has ignored totally the will of the people. All the politicking has been done at the behest of these two powerful families. Are they the only one who can call the shots.

Dividing the state on the basis of two territories, one Muslim and the other predominantly Hindu is once again the age old trick of division. The valley is one, but its multiple orchestration of Muslim and Hindu views has made its division deeper seated. Of course the torture of the Pundits is a slur on the history of the state, but to simply accommodate a fleeing population in other parts of the country is not solving the issue. It is only to keep it burning. The division of the state is a classic representation of a house divided made public if not official. The language assimilation of a community could have been used to bind a community on the basis of language and culture. Instead what happened was hard core division, animosity and hatred. Then the blame game. Then, the generalisation that everyone is separatist, if not terrorist.

It is now time we talk, soul search and deploy methods of talking to leaders of the community and senior political leaders of the country. Rather a group of political leaders, academics, intellectuals, artists and writers from all over the country, including Kashmir must be constituted and measures of persuasion rather than coercion must be chalked out. That is imperative. Some healing, some affection, some compassion must be on display. Otherwise the country and its people will be the biggest losers. There are people in this country who feel sad at the state of affairs there. Their voices must be heard.

What is it we want? Do we want that the bitter pangs of separation to  still continue? When we talk of integration, emotional integration, what does it mean? Why has also this unrest in Kashmir restarted since a new dispensation came to power? Is it a fear psychosis of a people who think that their voices will be suppressed? Ruthlessly? Is it the angst of the times? Have other ‘ happenings ‘ in the country stirred emotions? This is the test of the government. Honestly it must do some real introspection. Otherwise the terror of the time will continue to exert its vicious demon like grip on all of us who, care for the nation.

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha works in the Indira Gandhi National Open University, Shillong (Meghalaya) as an Academic Administrator. He has over 30 years of teaching and administrative experience. He has six collections of poetry and his forms have been published world wide. Some of his poems are due to appear soon in an Anthology of Indian Poetry in English to be published by Harper Collins.