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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 34 New Delhi August 10, 2019

Severe Erosion of Pro-India Politics in Kashmir

Sunday 11 August 2019

BOOK REVIEW

by Abid Ahmad Shah

Kashmir: Rage and Reason by Gowhar Geelani; Publisher: Rupa Publications, New Delhi; Price: Rs 395.

Kashmir is glorified the world over as paradise on the earth, second to Switzerland in terms of scenic beauty, serene valleys, calm and fresh waters and colourful flora and fauna. But, beyond the gaze of this whole matrix lies a narrative of pains, sufferings, broken promises and what not. Caught in the whirlpool of hypersensitive political environs, the Kashmir imbroglio is refusing to cow down and assuming multiple forms of uncertainty and chaos with the passage of time.

Time is witness to the fact that a lot of theories have been put forth by the political pundits within and outside the Valley, but those theories go astray and turn rudimentary within the framework of time. Like elsewhere, writings on the Kashmir imbroglio were nascent and miniscule till the narrative of Basharat Peer’s Curfewed Night caught the attention of the readers worldwide regarding the Kashmir problem and gave impetus to further inroads of fresh narratives and perspectives on Kashmir which subsequently assumed some weight and the authors began to write and rewrite stories on Kashmir.

Kashmir: Rage and Reason by Gowhar Geelani is a fresh narrative on Kashmir, which was recently released after publication by Rupa Publications, New Delhi. The book offers fresh insights into a number of themes about Kashmiri nationalism; resistance of the new age and rebellion after the demise of the militant commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, in July 2016.

The book is divided into ten chapters, each narrating a different theme lucidly.

Chapter one of the book narrates the killing of rebel commander, Burhan Wani, on July 8, 2016. Burhan Wani had become a phenomenon and glamour over the years of his militant affiliation. The author narrates his travel to the place of his birth in South Kashmir, Tral, and Kashmir, where men and women, children and Sikhs could be seen at his funeral prayers. He used the social media to further his cause. Militancy got revived after his departure.

In chapter two of the book under the theme, ‘Why Tral Bleeds Green’, the author narrates a series of events where he found veneration for militants.

Chapter three provides a perspective regarding Kashmir’s struggle, whether vying for homeland or caliphate. The author argues that the struggle of Kashmiris is for political and economic rights, justice and dignity, and predates the birth of India and Pakistan. According to Geelani, it is important to contextualise and historicise the struggle of Kashmiris for independence which can be traced to the 16th century when it was taken over by the Mughals. The author writes that Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of the Valley by Governor Jagmohan and those who are living back in the vale live as brothers and sisters.

In chapter four titled, ‘A nationalism of multiple identities’, the author argues that multiple identities have played a role in rallying public opinion in J&K.The first mobilisation of the masses was against the Dogra rule in 1931. There was rigging in the 1987 elections to thwart the rise of the MUF (Muslim United Front), which caused eruption of militancy subsequently in Kashmir.

In chapter five titled ‘Violence to Non-Violence: A lost opportunity?’, Geelani argues that violence that ravages the State emanates from New Delhi, whose witness is the current generation. The majority in Kashmir is involved in a battle for their unique identity and existence. Preaching peace to Kashmiris in the current atmosphere hurts them as an invective.

In chapter six under the theme, ‘A New Language of Resistance’, the author narrates about the development of intellectual and narrative resistance in Kashmir, where the main contention is the resilience through creative defiance forms. Words are weapons, so is memory.

Chapter seven ‘Hell in Paradise’ narrates the author’s observation of crackdowns, civilian killings, torture and exodus of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits. He vies for the recreation of communal bond among Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits.

In chapter eight, the author says that truth in Kashmir is overlaid with competing narratives and hermeneutics. Working as a journalist is a tough job. The Indian journalists, barring a few, have lost their credibility in Kashmir. The Indian media covers one-sided stories and the masses of mainland India have been misguided about the whole situation.

In chapter nine, the author says that the world is yet to take cognisance of the Kashmir conflict. Religion, nationalism and cultural and other identities are key to understand the Kashmir imbroglio. For the peace and prosperity of the region, peaceful negotiation is the sine-qua-non condition for its resolution.

The last chapter of the book titled, ‘A Leadership Crisis’ narrates that pro-Delhi politics indulges in doublespeak in Kashmir. The pro-India politics has severely eroded its credibility in Kashmir. The author ascribes the factor of the lack of political will and statesmanship in New Delhi, Islamabad and Srinagar to the current problem. The author feels that statesmanship is the last say for the crisis resolution in Kashmir.

Overall, the book offers an articulate view of the author and the passion to understand the current uncertainty in politics in Kashmir in the present global geopolitical context and the conflict as a whole. The book is a must read for one and sundry.

Abid Ahmad Shah is a columnist-author from Seer Hamdan, Anantnag, Kashmir.

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