In the high voltage drama that gained traction this week with the beating of MLA Er. Rashid in the Assembly , the sit ins outside the Assembly, the attempted unfurling of the BJP flag at Lal Chowk, the burning of a truck in Udhampur and the reactions all these have generated, the people of Kashmir watch this drama of course, as mute spectators awaiting the rolling out of events with both trepidation and uncertainty. This, perhaps, is the ultimate irony of Kashmir, the conflict in and over Kashmir. The depredations visited upon Kashmir and the frozen nature of the conflict has spawned various themes, ideas and actions. While some view the conflict as an industry to be milked for personal gain , and others latch on the accoutrements of the conflict and play politics around these, the common Kashmiri stands as a spectator to the circus. The beef ban controversy- even though it has pure political rationales and motivations informing it- is a metaphor for this.
Kashmir then has become the gladiators arena where people as spectators can do nothing but watch the sport being played. This has historically been the bane of Kashmir and even the theme that has informed its politics right from the time when the British sold Kashmir and Kashmiris to the then Maharaja of Kashmir till now. The politics of manipulation, coercion and the impropriety of much of politics attached to Kashmir took Kashmir away from Kashmiris. This development has had manifold consequences- social, psychological and political. The Kashmiri psyche has remained hostage to these and has not attained expansive dimensions; the uncertainty that this has spawned has made us short termist and even self centered and all this is reflected in our politics. As a result, we have become detached and withdrawn watching developments as they unfurl with bemused disinterest. This detachment and the problems it has spawned have impacted our collective consciousness and even identity. Our politics has then become into a mediated politics.
The ultimate irony, however, is that we have ceased to care about these issues- issues that have a direct and powerful resonance in our lives , our future and posterity- with the result the ground, so to speak, has been ceded to others. All this is bleak and gloomy. The question that should exercise our minds is can this condition be remedied? It perhaps can but for the catharsis and redemption to take place, we need to come out of our respective shells and become engaged and autonomous beings- with our selves- individual and collective- attuned to social and political responsive issues.
We have none but ourselves to do this. Theres no one out there for us to alleviate our condition but God and ourselves. What should gain primacy in our psychological and emotional universe are prudent calculations of both self and collective interest. As they say , charity begins at home. Let each one of us introspect and resolve to be fully engaged and conscious people lest the larger forces-social, political and historical-consume us.
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