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Searching for hope

Can we hope for anything better, brighter

‘ The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it is very difficult to build and very easy to destroy’.

Thomas J Watson

Suddenly he seems to be drawn to the dominant narrative the region reverberates with. ‘ My representation of the sentiment’, claims the bureaucrat who resigned from the lucrative post of Indian Administrative Service some two weeks before, ‘will be as per narrative of the people’.  It is nearly eight year after he expressed this feeling. Before that we didn’t palpate in him even a hair-width empathy towards the ‘ sentiment’ he is talking about now. 

The first Kashmiri to top the civil service exam did this feat in 2010 when state was shaken up by mass unrest. The hyper nationalist media, news channel, political class from Delhi projected him as a ‘role model’, a youth ‘icon’ against the surging sentiment that the streets in Kashmir were reverberating with. Peaceful articulation of anger through massive protests and the surging sentiment  Shah Faisal called  as violence. ‘ It is time’, he advised Kashmiri youth, after making it to the premier civil service, ‘ we move from enterprise of violence to constituency of peace’. ( GK, May 8, 2010). Again when state was jolted by yet another phase of  uprising in 2016, did not hide his disdain for the people, especially youth. He wrote in Indian Express on December 28, 2016, under the caption ‘ Kashmir trapped in deadly politics, must abandon macabre heroism’. The very title reveals where his heart was placed and for whom it was beating. He demonized  people of Kashmir for perpetrating violence and made them squarely responsible  for death and destruction. He accused them for getting swayed to and nurturing ‘ politics of hope’. From which, as he  in sarcastic tune said,  they ( people of Kashmir) reap  ‘politics of grief’. Pronouncing  his guilty sentence against the people he derisively dismissed the sentiment nothing but  ‘people’s violence’. Not difficult to infer who he wanted to exonerate from and why.( In rebuttal, I wrote ‘ Trapped in servitude, GK, Jan 13, 2017)

Now to massage the peoples’ pro-sentiment nerves, Faisal, in a marked shift of his earlier outpourings against people, has cast himself in new avatar. He expressed his turn-about in an article ‘ A paradox in the valley’ (Indian Express, 3 January, 2019), he co-authored with a Kashmiri writer, Mehboob Makhdoomi. The write up admitted that Hurriyat, even not being part of electoral process, represent the sentiment while as those participating elections do not represent the sentiment. A week after, he announced his resignation from the coveted service to join politics. This time—in synch with the acrobatic theatrics from the pro-Indian leaders show-- when they join electoral politics-- Delhi has to be profaned as a villain, a monster. And himself a messiah, in saintly robes. ‘ To protest’ against ‘ the unabated killings in Kashmir and absence to any credible political initiative from the Union government’.  Announcing his baptism to the electoral process, he thundered ‘ Kashmiri lives matter’. 

 For those who want to graze on more green pastures, electoral politics, more so in Kashmir context, has become a fascinating enterprise. It is only when elections are approaching new discourses  are weaved and new catchy phrases croaked up and attempts made to reconcile sentiment of Aazadi with their redrafted pledges, rather poll gimmicks. Believing people are too naïve to forget how scurrilous and petulant they were in their denunciations against the sentiment and people. Till it didn’t serve their political ambitions it was ‘ politics of grief’ purchased by Kashmiris by themselves. Now ‘ life matters’ because their political career, they believe, needs a reference or two of this sentiment. All political figures smeared their faces with these deceptive tactics. 

 It is not the first time  people use the sentiment to worm their way for ulterior motives. Through the route of plebiscite, self rule, autonomy and Achievable proposals, they all grabbed us from our forelocks and de-robed us from everything precious. Today we are like pigeons pinioned among the howling cats. The paradox Faesal  is talking of makes him captive of the same. If Hurriyat, as he now asserts, truly represents sentiment and election-oriented groups are just for dealing with municipal works, how he splits himself in between the two opposite extremes. And will the ‘system’  give him a free leeway to do as he claims he will do. If to nourish and promote the sentiment—in all peaceful manner-- the Hurriyat is denied public space, curbed of free movement, harassed  and incarcerated within and outside state, even charged with sedition, how come an ex- bureaucrat’s journey into politics will be accorded state reception.  If he does Hurriyat floating in Indian mainstream politics, then ‘ King Faisal’ should be a collective choice for Nobel Prize and I would feel lucky to hold his hand in Biat (allegiance). In the immediate future, we should see skies of Kashmir roaring with Aazadi slogans as  for the King ‘ words like Aazadi, right to self determination and plebiscite should not be seen as taboo in mainstream politics’( GK, Jan 12, 2019). 

History of Kashmir in relation with India has been history of countless betrayals, broken pledges, deceptions and back-stabbings. The system he wants to serve in has left no one inassimilable. It has sucked all in its inferno.  That the King wants to write a new page of Kashmir-- different from the lot that pledged to serve people but ended up in consolidating the status quo --is nothing but a grand delusion he is pursuing in the ‘politics of hope’. The breed of politicians the system has groomed to act as buffer between people in Kashmir and Delhi have lost credibility and public faith. May be they in Delhi think the King’s induction in electoral politics may bring some respect to the ‘mainstream politics’ and, by extension, help in eroding influence of Hurriyat that has maintained glory of public trust and has emerged more strong as has  been unifocal and unidirectional in all these crucial years. Some expect him a game changer. May be. But dice is heavy loaded against him. I am afraid the gamble may cost him in name, fame and honor. Unless some miracle happens. The system has a terrible black-hole in it from which no one has escaped un-mauled . The graveyard of power of trust and dignified stature he has plunged in has all horrible memories.  From Sheikhs to Muftis ! Wherefrom the  frightening shrieks keep haunting.: 

Dekho mujhe jo 

deeda-e-Ibrat nigah ho

According to MORTH, J&K tops among two other states in road accidents with an average of over 900 deaths every year in the last five years.

Source: Greater Kashmir