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HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014
Get a life in Kashmir
Chanakya, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 03, 2013
First Published: 15:39 IST(3/8/2013)
Last Updated: 08:30 IST(4/8/2013)

If there was a competition for lack of imagination and intellectual bankruptcy between the government and the so-called secessionists in Kashmir, it would be a pretty close call.

The only thing that I can say for the government is that it does try now and again, when it is jolted out of its stupor by one horrifying event or the other in Kashmir, to do something constructive. But Sisyphus-like, it rolls up the boulder of solutions, only to find that it rolls down again.

As for the secessionists, they seem too lazy to even come up with any new idea with which to challenge the government or anyone else for that matter.

There is the perennial Cassandra Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. His solution to the Kashmir problem, sorry I should have said his latest solution, is to call upon people to not rent houses to non-Kashmiris labourers. That will show the government of India what’s what.

He also then adds that it is ‘highly shameful for us to send our girls to the army-organised tours and functions.’ Then we have the official high priest or mufti Basheer-ud-Din who had termed music unIslamic but was present at a music function where he presumably did not hear or notice the lilting melodies.

And in case all you naysayers thought that the dear man had compromised on his beliefs, he tells us that he went to the function because it was literary in nature complete with a recitation of the Koran and discussions of the works of Akbar Jaipuri. By the way, this is the man who has issued a fatwa against an all-woman Kashmiri rock bank Pragaash.

Once in a while, our secessionists turn up in Delhi like bad pennies and grace a Pakistan day do. This is enough to get our government, which is completely in the loop, to get its knickers in a twist and rage and rail about how India will never give up Kashmir.

Our secessionist worthies have also been known to take a swing around Pakistan where they have viewed democracy at work at close quarters, especially when it comes to telling people where to get off with a well-timed bomb or two.

They must be coming back thanking their lucky stars that unlike many Pakistani politicians, they can say pretty much what they want in India, without some jihadi coming along with a ticking parcel.

But before you think that I have got my knife into the Hurriyat leaders, let me say that the Centre and the state government have also matched Geelani and co in what can only be described as a complete lack of application to an essentially fraught and complex issue.

The Centre with great fanfare set up a panel of independent interlocutors who notched up several thousand air miles to and from the state meeting with a wide range of people. Before they boarded their first flight, the Hurriyat leaders had dismissed them as people of no consequence.

Nevertheless, the doughty trio who by then was squabbling with each other, did come up with a report, recommending other things, you guessed it, greater autonomy for the state.

And after thanking them heartily, the government flung the report into a cupboard which has not since been opened. I wait with bated breath with to see when another committee or panel will be set up and we go through the whole rigmarole again.

If the government has failed the people of Kashmir, the Hurriyat has failed them even more so. At times, it has seemed to me that the Hurriyat worthies are just being contentious for the sake of it.

They live in considerable luxury, quite divorced from the ugly realities of daily life in Kashmir, and seem to come alive with their often preposterous demands only when television cameras are around. Many of them have visited Pakistan and I doubt whether there is one among them who find the kebabs of Lahore alluring enough to actually go and live there.

Both the Hurriyat and the government should end their zero-sum game. The excitement over the young cricketer from Kashmir, the IAS topper, the all-women band show that the young are not in the least bit interested in the hysterics of either the Hurriyat or the government or their pathetic allegations and counter allegations.

I can only assume that even the Hurriyat wants peace in the state even though it seems to have run out of ideas. I also imagine that it is what chief minister Omar Abdullah wants though he too seems to have no clue how to go about this. I feel that they should perhaps keep quiet for a while.

The state’s young have definite ideas about where they want to go. They are not particularly interested in the outdated shibboleths spouted by both sides. They want to make a mark in life, take advantage of the opportunities that for the moment India and the world can give them.

I suppose I cannot mention Pakistan because even it does not know what it wants. So my advice for what it is worth is, leave well alone. If you have nothing positive to contribute, do us a favour and keep your admonishments and poverty of ideas to yourself. The rest of Kashmir wants to get a life.


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