Najeeb Mubarki

From The Economic Times: “The Islamism Bogey in Kashmir

“It was Bertolt Brecht who once suggested, in his sharp, almost genial way, while talking of a different uprising, in 1953 in East Germany, that the state could, as a solution, dissolve the people and elect another. That, perhaps, would for many be a consummation devoutly to be wished for when it comes to Kashmir. For, faced with the kind of uprising, the narrative as exists in Kashmir these days, it seems the counter narrative can only attempt to subvert or subsume the facts. And if one were to employ a bit of hyperbole, beyond the propaganda seems to lie a desire to somehow do away with the present lot of Kashmiris, and elect, or invent, another. Paradoxically, this consists of either seeking to invent a people more to one’s liking or, inversely, creating an image of a people so prone to extremism that empathy is simply impossible.”

There are broadly two main strands to the discourse on Kashmir which attempts that act of dissolving the reality. One would be the staid, stale assertion that the protests in the Valley, if not instigated from across the border, are managed by a mischief-prone minority, and are not really representative of the people’s feelings. In the third month of protests, and after 63 killings (thus far) by the state police and the CRPF, that ‘assertion’ seems to have died a natural death.”

“It is the second strand, that of invoking charges of Islamic extremism, which the counter campaign in the Indian media now seems to have settled on. On the surface, this campaign is conducted purely at the level of deploying images. By playing up the pictures and statements of an Islamist or two (preferably a female for better effect) and attempting to conjure a link to wider Kashmiri society. It is a classic case of abiased media seeking, and using, the few scattered instances which can reinforce that pre-existing bias. Quite like highlighting ‘letters’, pasted on a few walls, addressed to a minority community, to whip up visions of some imminent pogrom.”

“The drive to seek, invoke, an Islamisation of Kashmir is insidiously linked to regurgitating, within Indian public opinion, the subcontinental history of partition and the creation of Pakistan. It is also an act of dissolving the Kashmiris and electing the ‘Muslim anti-national’. That done, Kashmir can be presented as reflecting the danger of that partition, again. Which then becomes a major roadblock in even attempting to articulate to the wider Indian public what Kashmir is really about, leave alone seeking a solution to the problem.”

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