I normally do not write in reaction to someone’s views, but in reaction to events. However, the following article that appeared in the Hindustan Times caught my attention: ‘In a week of tragedy, four reasons that give me hope in Kashmir‘
I will focus on the last point in the article, which is summarized below (quoted from the article):
So, it has been uplifting to see the unambiguous condemnation of the attack on the Amarnath Yatra (and before that the lynching of Ayub Pandith) across the spectrum — mainstream political parties, separatists and of course civil society. Every Kashmiri I know is repulsed by what happened …
The above is a statement that is bordering on ridiculous. Let me explain why. First of all, “condemnation” is free, it costs nothing. Of course, leaders condemn such attacks. Hell, even Lashkar-e-Toiba went out of its way to deny involvement. Even Lashkar does, from time to time, say that it will “protect Hindu shrines.” Such statements mean nothing when dealing with a highly duplicitous enemy, be it the Lashkar, or be it the Hurriyat. The same Hurriyat, on India Today sting, admits it is burning schools across Kashmir. The same Hurriyat that includes, among other noteworthies, Bitta Karate who boasted that he lost count of the number of Hindus he had killed. A public condemnation from such criminals – does it have any value? Does it represent anything?
Next, the “political parties” that the author mentions. There are mainly two – PDP and NC. The PDP is in power, and must condemn such an attack – it would scarcely be possible for them not to. Coming to the NC, again similar situation – they have to condemn the attack. But like I said, condemnation is free. The important thing to note is that the NC did not call for a Kashmir bandh! Kashmir valley, which is in bandh very frequently over this alleged atrocity or the other, was not called to bandh by the NC for such a major attack. The NC called for a Jammu bandh, but refrained from making the call for a Kashmir bandh! Does this not tell you, more than any other tweeted condemnation, what they stand for, and what their political base in the valley stands for?
The bandh call – Kashmir’s standard mode of protest – is where the rubber meets the road, and any serious political observer would have taken note of that. It is really disappointing that journalists who claim to be such, seem incapable of reading the right political cues. Or perhaps they are capable, but are deliberately misleading their readers.
Let me repeat this, because it was, to me, the single most significant notable in the post-attack “drama.” The valley was not called to bandh by anyone—not by the separatists, not by the NC, not by the PDP. Please remember that the attack took place in the valley, not in Jammu.
Second, there was no street protest in the valley. I scanned all the TV channels for reportage of any such protest, and could find none. This is the same valley which, throughout last year, has been protesting on some pretext or the other. Hell, even schoolgirls come out and pelt stones, in order to make their “protest felt.” How is it that there was no such protest over the Amarnath attack? What does it tell us about the “ordinary Kashmiri”? Does it not confirm what the lack of a call to bandh tells us – that the ordinary Kashmiri did not feel particularly aggrieved by the Amarnath attack?
Now to the case of “civil society” of Kashmir. This one is particularly laughable. On various TV channels, they brought a few of these civil society members to interview. Some of them had been to “sit-ins” on the Amarnath attack (read: a group of a few ten who collect in a large hall to register that they had actually done a sit-in). Some of the things they said would make your blood boil. A pair of them, appearing on NDTV, openly suggested that Amarnath attack might have been “like Chattisinghpora” – meaning, done by Indian security forces themselves to give a bad name to the separatist movement! One should know that Chattisinghpora, where 36 Sikhs were killed in 2000, is considered by most Kashmiris to have been an Indian false-flag operation: this is the nature of the Valley, where all kinds of outlandish conspiracy theories abound.
Lastly, the “every Kashmiri I know…” line of the Hindustan Times columnist – what kind of a nothing statement is this? Does this list include, for example, Burhan Wani’s father, who that author famously used in order to humanize Burhan? The father is, by the way, a committed Wahabi, and a committed separatist. If so, that would have been significant, especially if she could get a strong statement of condemnation from Wani’s father, who is very highly respected in the valley for producing a son like Burhan. Remember, Burhan is a hero in the valley.
In conclusion, some journalists with big names make ludicrous conclusions from insignificant events, while (perhaps deliberately?) ignoring significant ones.
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