Pied Piper of Kashmir

It would have been much easier to make decisions and judgements if all the fights were between good and bad. Right and wrong. Oppressor and oppressed. This world is a complex one and what adds to its complexity is the nature of human perceptions. The question whether people are more important than the cause or vice-versa seems easy on its face value because of pre-cognitive beliefs.

Do ends justify means or vice-versa? Who holds the higher moral ground? The question of people and cause is one of the fundamental reasons of conflict escalation and procrastination. So it happens with a particular set of people with common interest that leads to their interaction and then results into disagreements and conflict of interest and then, ultimately into collision if not addressed, or if the stakes and incentives are higher. In case of the Kashmir conflict the question, whether people are more important than the cause or vice-versa, is intertwined in such a way that it becomes difficult to find a logical end to either of the two, leading to disengagement or hopelessness. However, it may be stated that this argument does not exist in its direct denotation but is underlined in different connotations. This is not due to the misunderstanding of people in Kashmir or lack of sufficient intellect but due to the immense pressure that an oppressor puts over its subjects. The oppressor often creates a discourse that grows away from the roots of the conflict and while addressing the same the oppressed are entangled in the peripheries rather than finding themselves at the core of the issue. Although, the question of people-cause relationship is an important component in this conflict, it exists in the outer shells of Kashmir issue. However, it is also equally vital to address this dilemma in order to pre-empt the further divisions among the people who in fact share common aspirations. Oliver Swift in his famous fantasy tale, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ symbolises such a question and the conflict between high heeled and low heeled Lilliputians. The religious question of breaking the egg on a particular side. The question resulted in a major war between the two groups. With an eagle’s vision like that of a reader, it becomes easier to nullify such a basis of confrontation but, at the same time the same kind of question that exists in general discourse seem to be of religious importance. Although, it’s but a fact that these questions always lead to tedious engagement or violent confrontation instead of resolution. The most important gradient of human society that pre-dominantly defines civilization, culture and guides morality is religion. During the course of human history, religion without human assistance perhaps could not have succeeded. However, a continuous struggle between people and the system or cause or principles always shifted balance in religion as well. To strike a perfect balance between religious torch bearers and religion itself has been a mammoth task. Most of the times there seems to be no confrontation between the two due to their complimentary nature. But the conflict of interests exists as much as they supplement each other. The dominant Christian era was overtaken by Pope who became more powerful than the religion he preached, as it happened with many other religions at one time or the other. But due to its requirement, religion is flexible enough to mould itself according to the needs of masses as argued by many. Others believe religion is reiterated time and again in different forms with common ideal constituents which keeps it standing. In Kashmir, apart from the leadership debate which is a connotation of people-cause relationship discourse, another internal conflict was initiated by pitching minorities against the majority. It worked appropriately as per the interests of the oppressor. This did not stop here but later added further dimension on the same lines. Kashmiri Pandits did not lay onus on a single person but a particular ethnic group themselves. Devoid of any cause earlier, they were spoon fed with a cause and an enemy. Rahul Pandita’s book, “Our moon has blood clots” is an insight on how Pandits from Kashmir easily played in the hands of the oppressor in the early 90s and continue to do so. The author being a part of this affair himself. In their case, if closely observed, people, cause and aspirations appear at loggerheads with each other. Also, the idea of embracing victimhood is a direct repercussion due to imbalance in the people-cause relationship. Choice breeds diversity, flexibility and at the same time dilemma. In some cases, dilemma overthrows every other positive tendency choice provides. Similarly, in determining whether a person or a group of people or ‘masses’ are important than a particular cause, an ideology, a system or a faith is a tricky one. Though, there is one important baseline that both of them are complimentary and most of the times it is easy to predict whether someone chooses ‘people’ or ‘idea’ on the basis of relevant doctrines. This happens in cases where stakes of choosing between the two are lower e.g. in case of milder discourses addressing sports, entertainment, morality, arts and so on. The roughness comes when stakes are relatively higher like in cases of political dissent, economics and conflict resolution. It is in these cases the question of people-idea relationship is difficult to comprehend. Without exaggeration, today, socialist movement has been reduced to a mere symbolic representation attached to fashion statement, glamorous activism and ambiguous alliances. In real terms and on the popular front Capitalism has outshined the Socialist movement to a greater extent. The faces of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro have over-powered the ideals that Socialism as a system it intended to enforce. It is immensely struggling to reinforce its values and the guidelines it proclaimed to hold. It succumbed to its own modus operandi. Today, it holds role models with greater esteem rather than its principles. On the contrary a capitalistic approach is to hold ground no matter what; with or without you. In Kashmir, there was a time when the popularity of a single person, Sheikh Abdulla overtook the greater cause, it ended as a faux pas. It lead to further devastation when people desisted from nominating a successor who could represent the cause owing to the distrust sown by planting a seed of betrayal. Then, Maqbool Bhat’s popularity overpowering the then dominant pro-Pakistan cause brought the cause of Independent Kashmir to the forefront.¬ However, the stakes of putting faith in a martyr are least due to his glorious departure. Quite true, the oppressor always visualizes the activities of the resistance from an eagle’s eye perspective and their thought processes are way ahead than of the oppressed. This gives them an opportunity to create deterrents and hurdles by inducing irrelevant discourses among the oppressed masses which is heterogeneous in each case. This heterogeneity helps them in targeting a specific group and pitching them against the other creating internal conflict. The internal conflict obviously takes away the focus from the external oppressing stakeholder and becomes self-consuming for the oppressed. The question of people-cause is one such popular deterrent used since time immemorial.

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