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Photo: WN / Imran Nissar
Photo: WN / Imran Nissar

The dilemma of a Kashmiri Voter

By Adfar Shah

My own commitment to understand the social and conflict phenomena in Kashmir has been fundamentally shaped by the very identity of belonging to the State.

Today when we are going to vote for next Lok Sabha, the ghost of uncertainty still haunts the valley despite the fact that in spite of enough peace loving creatures in the valley it is equally true that there are more than enough war mongers, vested interests, rumour mills too.

Years of observation and insights gained by meeting my fellow natives along with the document analysis speaks of a need of sociological diagnosis of the psycho-social pathology in Kashmir and the need to see Kashmir both from the theoretical prism and sociology on the ground.

They say behind every method lies a belief. But when it comes to Kashmir, beliefs seem to have turned to skepticism and reality to rhetoric. Who is actually benefiting from the chaos ridden Kashmir, remains a question.

Most certainly delaying tactics by the power apparatus in solving the dispute aided by mass alienation, mass unemployment, bad governance, corruption, etc., has shown a dysfunctional trend and lead to the poisoning of the mental geographies of the people of the valley.

The ontological belief that reality is socially constructed also does not hold good for Kashmir because the so called socially constructed reality is all shaped up by prolonged vulnerability in the valley.Who represents the reality of Kashmir is a more painful question. Under the debris of doctored realities and (dis)beliefs, knowledge of reality hardly comes to surface.

In Kasmir, social reality is constructed as a result of intentional and politically motivated actions and social interactions and the masses hardly get to know or understand what is actually happening. Preaching on Kashmir massively differs from practice in Kashmir for our political pundits.

Take the example of BJP’s personalized (NaMo) campaign in the State (Jammu) recently and see the manifesto for (actually against) Kashmir today. While BJP’S manifesto is widely criticized in the social and intellectual circles, the party seems in utter perception dilemma on Kashmir. Despite knowing their rapport in the valley BJP instead of clearing people’s confusions and spreading good will has only added fuel to the fire by making the abolition of article 370 their manifesto subject-that is however a utopia.

Mr Modi comes to Jammu and while putting his feet in charismatic Atal Ji’s shoes, talks’ InsaniyatJamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat but the manifesto of the party says otherwise today, reflecting party’s conflicting perspectives on Kashmir.Instead of working on their image in Kashmir, BJP loves to keep the pot boiling by throwing such tantrums. Back home such a manifesto has quickly stirred a debate on the question of accession in 1947 that too by the ruling party this time and if the article is debated in reality it will surely revisit the Kashmir’s painful history adding to the confusion.

The question is, are we ignorant of history or shying away from the reality for petty political gains?

Jammu and Kashmir along with northeast India needs governance at the centre that understands their prolonged suffering and devise ways of reconciliation in the strife torn regions rather than politicize the historical wrongs that have been done against them.

We need to realize that the country is not winning but losing the people’s faith by such slogans. By talking of abrogation of 370 party fails its very slogans of upholding Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat in the state because 370 bestows some identity to J&K and loosing the identity means a disaster when already thousands of human lives have gone and so much of collateral damage is before us.

Keeping politics, vote bank creation and hoodwinking innocent and unaware voters apart, all the political parties and national leaders irrespective of party affiliations need to understand the State, and move forward on peace initiatives and development rather than rubbing salt on the wounds.

The fact remains that even some separatist leaders had recently hailed the BJP’s concern on K-Issue during the Vajpayee era. However the painful question remains whether BJP is really thinking with empathy on Kashmir?

BJP needs a rethink on their J&K policy because every time they discuss Kashmir even casually, an enemy perception for the party evolves in the valley. People argue that it is either their craze for hoisting a flag in Lal Chowk to prove Kashmiris’ as anti nationals or their slogans of ‘remove the NC government’ to destabilize Kashmir or their pledge to abrogate article 370 without any positive and developmental vision on conflict torn Kashmir.

Elections come and go as a routine affair but the issues remain unaddressed. Mostly people vote for BijliPani and Sadak and amidst all this, the politics of probes, delaying tactics on Kashmir, interlocution drama, reconciliation mess, faulty mediation, ego clashes, and bad governance continues.

Last Word

Kashmir undoubtedly is today the victim of not only the fusion of conflicting horizons but the confusion of many political and theoretical horizons. Dual standards, critical, social and organizational issues and the ‘the interests of the powerful’ in Kashmir continue to haunt the Valley.

The fact remains that Kashmir and its special identity within the Indian Union has always been politicized for vote bank and the suffering of the natives has always been ignored resulting in people’s ‘disbelief in everything’ culture. The so called ambassadors of peace have over the years manufactured the conflicting ideologies on Kashmir (based on religious, sectarian, ethnic identities and distinctions) to hit its pluralistic ethos by hitting the social fabric simply to keep the lid of uncertainty open.

BJP must realize that modernizing the Indian landscape from Kashmir to Kanyakumari does not mean snatching people’s identity but developing the underdeveloped with their identities intact which is the true methodology of development.

About The Author

Adfar Shah is a Delhi Based (Kashmiri) Sociologist and Guest Columnist at Pointblank7.Views expressed are personal. Mail at adfer.syed@gmail.com.

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