The problem of a sponsored media has always been the central problem of occupation. The elitist journalists use false narratives to build a name for themselves burying a just cause under the debris of narcissism. The elitist journalists can never protect an occupied populace from the propaganda of the political class. In situations like this, our foremost duty is to tell to truth, not only to ourselves or our people, but also to those who blatantly lie. We must all be capable of spitting it on the faces of these arrogant and politically neutralized beings.
In her recent piece for The Washington Post, Indian journalist Barkha Dutt claimed that “the recent terror attack on Hindu pilgrims could change everything for Kashmir”. She also said that the attack had brought Kashmir’s “27-year-old insurgency” to critical crossroads. There are some stark realities in the statement which cannot be denied. The recent attack alone should not wake us up, but the post 9/11 realities and global shifts of politics cannot be overlooked too. In a world marred by wars and dangerous diplomacies, opportunistic policies of nation-states are never there to resolve longstanding disputes. Their businesses are running as long as the disputes remain unresolved.
However, the arguments she raises further in her piece are unfounded and have been written in a manner of looking down on the people of Kashmir intellectually. She pretends to be the messiah of people (I don’t know whose) while writing narratives that build up the current Hindutva myth. These lies destroy every credibility she may have with the people. This is not a curious Barkha Dutt case. Many Indian journalists and “Kashmir experts” have a habit of glorifying their political setup and aggressive policies in Kashmir because they cannot survive without appeasing their masters. Perhaps, they will get jobless if peace returns, who knows!
She asks, “In the land of Mahatma Gandhi, why is there not one non-violent icon in the valley?” She has forgotten the dialogue offered by Yasin Malik to the government of India. What happened to JKLF in 1994 must serve as a reminder to all the peace loving people. They were backstabbed and ignored by the Government of India and its consequences are well in front of us. In 1996, the Jammu and Kashmir government set up the State Autonomy Committee and recommended the restoration of autonomy in 1999, the NDA government rejected the resolution passed by the J&K assembly. Dr Farooq Abdullah was not trusted. Even the People’s Democratic Party was formed just days after the Kargil War had ended. Although it had been an old dream of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, it was formed to bring peace between India and Pakistan at that point of time. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is called a moderate in Delhi, in fact. Advocate Jalil Andrabi was killed by Army for his zeal to bring peace in Kashmir. We have the father of Tufail Mattoo, who has has shown exemplary valour and his fight against the state apparatus is an inspiration to all of us. Therefore, there is no dearth of non-violent icons in Kashmir, but the truth is that they are not recognized.
She mentions Irom Sharmila and tells people of Kashmir to get inspired from her. No doubt Irom Sharmila is an inspiration for the whole human race, but exactly like the Indian state, she did not recognize Parveena Ahanger, the Iron Lady of Kashmir. After the disappearance of her son during 90s, she championed the cause of all those subjected to enforced disappearance. She was nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize for Peace in the year 2005 but she never got any recognition from the state. Do you expect dialogues to happen in the atmosphere of arrogance? People deserve justice, equality and freedom while activists are busy proving their worth.
‘Militants’ of Kashmir have no role in India and there is no point of their want to start communal riots in India. Communal riots in India are as old as the partition of India. This rhetoric of linking Kashmir to Muslims of India is an irrational one. MJ Akbar also said last year that giving up Kashmir was surrendering Muslims’ rights which is baseless from the face of it. Linking ‘Muslim’ to Kashmir does not help because Kashmir issue is not the issue of religion and the question of Indian Muslims is distinct from that of Kashmiris. It is due to their will that Indian Muslims form an absolute part of India and the fact is quite undeniable.
Our hearts bleed when a protestor or a policeman is killed in the streets of Kashmir but the selective sermonising over human losses does a lot of disservice to the values we respect and observe as humans. The soldier, the policeman, the civilian, the militant, all belong to the category of humans and they all deserve to live. While pursuing our agenda, we attack the consequences, not the root cause. While a group of families of Kashmiri young men killed in protests in 2010 and 2016 were planning to gather at Lal Chowk to condemn the attack on Yatris, Farooq Ahmad, Wamiq’s (a young boy killed in 2010) father was quoted as saying, “I can feel the pain of the families of every killed yatri. I have been living with this pain for the past many years.” He also said, “There was no condemnation from the people of India.”(Muzamil Mattoo, Kashmir Reader, July 14, 2017)
It is, therefore, humbly argued that the learned journalist needs to present the view of the people, their struggle, instead of a state focused perspective. By presenting a state perspective, you betray your own people. The liberals in India badly need to organize #NotInMyName protests for the violence committed in Kashmir. They must ask for forgiveness from the people of Kashmir.
Excerpts in Greater Kashmir newspaper: