Hartal is back
According to Webster’s Unabridged (dictionary), ‘imagination’ is the “mental synthesis of new ideas from elements experienced separately… The broader meaning starts with the notion of mental imaging of things suggested but not previously experienced, and thence expands… to the idea of mental creation and poetic idealization (creative imagination)…”
But to a political or a trade union leader, imagination is not only this but something deeper. It is the dynamism that starts and sustains her/him and her/his politics. It ignites and feeds the force that drives her/him to organize people for change. Imagination is not only the fuel for the force that keeps her/him organizing, it is also the basis for effective tactics and action. The political leader has to know that the real action is in the reaction of the opposition. To realistically appraise and anticipate the probable reactions of the adversary, she/he must be able to identify with them too in her/his imagination, and foresee their reactions to her/his actions.
Having said this, one can say without any fear of contradiction that imagination is a very scarce commodity with the political and other leaders in our part of the world, Kashmir is particular. Had it not been so, then of course besides the highly abused tactic of shutdowns and strikes, they would have, over the years, evolved with better ways and mains of protest -- something that would have been effective against the political adversary but not at all harmful to ‘own people’ - those who are asked to use and practice it.
However, nothing of the sort has happened. Instead the shutdowns and strikes have dotted the agitational landscape of Kashmir so much so that the tactic has long lost whatever political utility it may have had. But unfortunately, unmindful of the fact that such tactics are hurting common people more than anyone else, separatists have been coercing the poor people into following the diktat of observing shutdowns and strikes every now and then, at the proverbial drop of the hat.
Without going into the merits and grounds of issues at stake, these calls have traditionally come at very inappropriate times. At least there should have been some consideration of the ongoing mid-term exams of the students of various schools and colleges. But as has always been the case here, those who are in leadership roles, just to conceal their own tactical bankruptcy always resort to calling people to shut work and sit idle at their homes. Although time has proven it that such tactics don’t and won’t work, but since ‘leaders’ lack the ability to think of anything different, ‘hartal’ (shutdowns and strikes) always come as a handy tool (read excuse) for them.
It goes without saying that strikes and shutdowns as a political tactic have lost its appeal and potency. If anything, it hurts the protesting people only while the government and its agencies are hardly bothered by and about it. For them, if the Kashmiri people have decided to tread the path of self-annihilation and bring every sort of economic and concomitant political hardship to themselves, why should anybody in the government, here or in New Delhi, be worried about it. Without any doubt, this ‘hartal’ tactic is wrong, for it hurts Kashmiri people more than it hurts anyone else. However, what is really tragic is that the so-called leaders of this land’s hapless people are repeatedly refusing to acknowledge their follies and learn lessons from their tactical blunders.