Niloofar Qureshi

Kashmir Issue- conflict of emotions and rationality

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Muhammad Rafi Bhat was an assistant professor working in the Sociology Department of Kashmir University (KU) on contractual basis till Friday after which he went missing. Twenty four hours later his parents learnt that he had joined Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and before this shocking news could sink in he was dead. Bhat was one amongst the five militants killed in an encounter with forces in Badigam village of Shopian on Sunday. While his colleagues were experienced militants, Bhat himself had joined the HM just a day earlier and thus there are bright chances that this 33 year old academician may not even have had the opportunity of learning how to use the AK 47 properly.

Besides these five HM militants, another five people also lost their lives during the protests that followed. This tragic incident has once again brought out the futility of violence by reminding us of how militancy has claimed thousands of lives in the last three decades and is continuing to do so without achieving anything. However, for those who thrive on ‘coffin politics’ Bhat’s death has come handy. It has helped ex-Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to strengthen his pet allegation of how the PDP led coalition government is responsible for everything that is going wrong in the state. And by tweeting “Sadly this is also an answer to those who claim jobs & development is the solution to the violence & alienation in Kashmir,” Abdullah has demonstrated how politicians are adept in even using human tragedy to their advantage.

By saying that “Prof Dr Mohammad Rafi Bhat had joined Hizb ranks just a day ago and his martyrdom has proved that one day of freedom is better than thousands days of slavery,” United Jihad Council (UJC) chief and HM supremo Syed Salahuddin has skillfully deflected the more thorny issue of what has the ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir actually achieved. Moreover, by stating that “history is witness that the sacred blood of martyrs creates many more such militants,” the Hizb supremo has made it clear that despite the ongoing bloodshed he is adamant on continuing with the ‘armed struggle’. And with the Hurriyat and the Kashmir Inc coming out in full support of militants and stone pelters the situation has become extremely dangerous as emotions seem to have completely overshadowed rationality in Kashmir.

The need of the hour is to guard against getting carried away by passions because the moment we do so we end up doing things that go against our own cause. For example, while we keep appealing to the UN and international community to intervene and force New Delhi to implement the UN resolutions on Kashmir, we are also wholeheartedly supporting the ‘armed struggle’ to achieve our ‘right to self determination’ with Hurriyat (G) chairman SAS Geelani declaring “We (the Hurriyat) never denied or ignored the role of gun in our struggle.” If viewed with an emotional frame of mind, this dual approach is justified because we have been pushed against the wall due to apathy of the international community and Indian atrocities. However, a rational mind will comprehend that citing oppression and international apathy as justification for indulging in violence to achieve a political objective will find no supporters!

The more serious matter is that the ‘armed struggle’ has destroyed our moral standing on the issue of ‘self determination’ that the UN resolutions on Kashmir give us. By taking things into our own hands and striving to achieve the ‘right to self determination’ by force we have unwittingly displayed a complete lack of respect for the UN resolutions which seek peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. And once we have done so, then what right do we have to blame the UN and international community for not fulfilling their moral responsibilities to resolve the Kashmir issue? An emotional mind will use the aforementioned argument of Indian atrocities and international apathy to say that peace loving Kashmiri youth have been forced to pick up the gun. However, a rational mind will tell you that any mass movement, no matter how strong its ideological and moral standing may be, cannot succeed if it patronises use of force to achieve its ends.

Ever since the 2016 summer unrest, Kashmir has seen a phenomenal increase in fatalities. However, despite Islamabad, the Hurriyat and even the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) as well as UJC chief  repeatedly bringing up the issue of ‘Indian atrocities’, no other nation has done so and this is something that we must take a serious note of. Why is it that despite Islamabad raising this issue in all international forums and Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi meeting UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to  specifically apprise him about “Indian atrocities” in Kashmir all that the UN and international community have done is to only express ‘concerns’? An emotional interpretation would be to blame this apathy on a ‘grand international conspiracy’ or vested economic interests of the international community but the more rational explanation is that once you indulge in any form of violence you lose the moral right of portraying yourself as the victim.

Tailpiece: By failing to harness our emotions we have unwittingly allowed the erroneous belief that violence is the only way to achieve ‘self determination’ to dominate our thought process and outlook. Here it would be appropriate to recall the following words of Martin Luther King Jr. – “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.” It is for our leaders to set things right as violence doesn’t solve problems – it only aggravates them!
The columnist is a New Delhi based writer and can be reached at [email protected]

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