Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How Effective is Excessive Use of Strikes?

Utility of strikes as a means of political protest may hardly be contested, but the over use of it has left it bereft of any impact. Shafi A Athar gives expression to a popular sense of unease over the excessive use of strikes

They say 'Child is the father of man'. I firmly believe it when small children of my son's age shout to their own amusement Ye Muluk Hamara Hai. Iska Faisla Hum Karenge. (This is our country and we only shall decide its future).

These small children extract their sense of satisfaction from this slogan and relief from abandoning tough school work on the hartal days. Unmindful of the importance of this slogan, they on one side rejoice having been able to remain off the school but continue to remind the nation that something important still needs to be done. They use this Hurriyat given opportunity while playing with the slogans having tremendous importance in the history of their nation. I have been hearing this slogan since I came of age and well into adolescent stage. And now I have been watching the response to such a slogan for years together. The Hartal, experts say, has an importance of sorts in the history of nations. It has been used to protest the high handedness of the repressive forces or as a means to communicate the general ‘No’ to the state policies. A non violent tool of great application!

As the father stuff in the small children roam in lanes and by-lanes of my Muluk with the firm declaration that they will decide the future of the country, the non violent use of hartal is thrown into the pieces. The couple of bullet ridden bodies, scores of bandaged foreheads, bruised bodies, plastered legs and arms reach their homes. Wailing women and chest beating relatives receive such gory gifts. The days pass and compassion fatigue of our people comes into play and the rest is history.

Having had a sigh of relief that the state administration, with New Delhi at its back, was kept on tenterhooks by their Lal Chowk Chalo call, the separatists rejoiced the 'success' and the state administration felt relieved that it could this time lift the curfew in two days only. Next came the opportunity of declaring yet another hartal. Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh with his carrots of Baghliar, Railway and All Party Meet came and his stick remained with the JCO of army or an inspector of para military troops. One question arises in my mind; whether Indian government has been shaken to its foundations with the one and half day hartal call given by our leadership. And whether civil curfew that we imposed in our market places helped us achieve the right to decide the future of our Muluk.

Hartal is a non violent tool and has been used in all parts of the world during resistance movements to press for their demands. But the million dollar question remains, whether it could still be used as an effective tool in the context of Kashmir conflict. The Kashmir imbroglio is different and multi dimensional. Equally are the ways and means equally different. The problem, for many years particularly post 1975 Indra-Abdullah accord, looked phony with Pakistan occasionally raising the issue in the UN. But post 1989 the dimensions changed abruptly. The Kashmiri youth took the bull of mighty Indian security establishment by its horns. Roaming with the guns hanging down their shoulders the youth challenged the military might. When gun is in use, what kind of hartal remains effective! When gun powder puts dwellings at fire, what role can hartal play? When bullets are fired in all directions what good can be expected from hatals?

So went on around eighteen years and the calls for hartal still continues. The bang of the grenades and IED are mingled with calls for hartal; and, occasionally, some sane voices raising the question over the futility of hartals, too join in.
And then came the summer of 2008 and everything was thrown into shambles. The security establishment, Pro India political setup, and the separatist leadership was shaken out of slumber. No grenade attack, no firing, no IED going off, and of course no Hartal. Ensconced in their chambers, people belonging to the above mentioned establishments were shaken up by the new developments. The common people on the streets took charge and forced the leadership of one form to vacate and the other to helm the affairs. If people’s participation is any index, referendum was enacted on the lanes, by-lanes, markets, highways and the open spaces. Again the question arises; in such situations what is the point of going on strikes every other day.

Time has come, rather it has already too late, when our leadership has to decide once for all; do we need to go on frequent strikes. They need to ponder over whether they want to pursue the non violent means of protest, or an armed struggle, or just give birth to confusion. If they continue with confusion in their minds they will produce a confused nation. Hartals will give them some space in the banner headlines of news papers but wipe them off from the pages of history. Hartals will result giving birth to violence. On every Hartal-day couple of bullet ridden bodies, scores of bandaged foreheads, bruised bodies, plastered arms and legs in the form of gory gifts are and will be received by wailing women and chest beating relatives.

Compassion fatigue to the visitors shall continue to take its toll after every bereavment.

(Rising Kashmir)

No comments: