Stricken Swami

Editorial from Greater Kashmir

Srinagar wednesday, September1, 2010

A delegation of Indian Civil Society headed by Swami Agnivesh visits Kashmir in the wake of an unprecedented situation that has engulfed present day Kashmir.  No harm coming to Kashmir and meting whosoever they wanted to meet, but there is a rider. The rider doesn’t come from someone who has any control on the situation, or has anything to do with who comes and who doesn’t to Kashmir. It comes from a common sufferer of this situation. And the rider is this; if you come to Kashmir and see for yourself what has been done to Kashmir by the state authorities sitting in Delhi, you must raise your voice against the oppressor back home. It is one small thing that if happens may not change the fate of Kashmir, but at least will change the perception of Kashmiris towards all such delegation that come from India to Kashmir, especially in the times like we confront today, and also spare some oppression. Right from 1990s, people from India, in different capacities, have trickled into this bleeding Valley trying to sympathise with the suffering people. Teams from Indian mainstream political parties, fringe political groups, social activists, feminists, human rights activists, journalists and other civil society groups have been consistently flowing in the direction of this unhappy valley for reasons as myriad as could be; needless to say that all the groups and some prominent names cannot be brushed alike. While the majority of them have been sniffing around to discover some ready lines that can be hooked on to get an access to the internal recesses of the Kashmiri’s politics, there are exception who spoke for the tyrannised masses without any equivocation. Between these two extremes lay the majority who only come to do their professional job no matter to whose advantage or disadvantage that goes. However, the dominant impression about all the visiting ‘sympathisers’ is that they come, they see, but they never concur to speak for the oppressed when they are back in the land of master. If Swami Agnivesh and his team have come to Kashmir we have no reason doubting their intensions, or thinking of them as wave breakers ultimately working to the advantage of the one who is actually responsible for the bloodshed in Kashmir, but we do have our reservations. And all these reservations are rooted in the experiences that Kashmir has had with many such delegations. We wish that Swami Agnivesh, a social activist and Known Arya Samaji, who has his own standing in Indian political circles, proves us wrong. We would be delighted if our cynicism, coming almost closer to rejection, is blown to bits. We in Kashmir earnestly desire that people like Swami prove us wrong this time around. They can do it by entering into a dialogue with their own people in India. When last time Sri Sri Ravi Shankar came to Kashmir in 2008, there was a nice message that was dropped to him that he actually needs to talk about peace in India, because the trouble comes from that end. Similarly Swami and his group can contribute to peace if they educate their own people about the truth in Kashmir.  If they can fight the misinformation campaign undertaken by the political establishment of India right from the times of Nehru they can concretely contribute to peace. Though it’s a good idea to help establish channels of communication between pro-freedom leadership of Kashmir and the people of Indian states, but even more is needed an honest retelling of a story called Kashmir by people like Swami Agnivesh themselves. If Swami Ji begins with his own Arya Samaj, a known socio-religious reform movement, he will be doing a noble job. Likewise if all such groups candidly speak about the situation in Kashmir and prepare India to question their power centers, Kashmir can be spared much of the oppression. If only it can be brought home that the political establishment of India is being seen as a tyrant who ‘when cried the little children died in the streets’, an 8 year boy might not be thrashed to death.