Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

Fight on all fronts

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 16, 2009

ART, CULTURE AND RESISTANCE

Not just slogans, we will have to broaden up the canvas of our resistance to make our voice heard. Let’s not forget the great legacy we own in the form of art and culture, writes Malik Sajjad.

 “We won’t give up this time, people will protest till Kashmir is demilitarized,” says Geelani during a recent demonstration against the alleged gang rape and murder of two women in Shopian. But the protests finally ended so that the people can survive and earn their livelihood. The fate of this agitation could have been easily predicted. The question is why does it always end in hartals and nothing more. And when the same people are back to normal, it seem as if nothing had ever happened. We live the normal life because we are used to live abnormally. We know more people are going to be killed in the coming days and among them it could be you, or me who knows? And then there would be protests, which would ultimately end. That is how life goes in this part of the world.
Hartal might be helping us register our anger against the human rights violation at some level, but at the same time it makes us forget the same human rights violations very quickly. We know that these killings and abuses are not going to end. There are more than six hundred thousand India troops in Kashmir with their guns loaded and targeted on us.
Hartal can’t shield us for long, as we have examples that we lost more precious innocent lives during the protests. When we see the international media coverage, strikes have lost their punch, as the newspapers cannot carry the same news or cannot give the same space to the old news every day. We don’t have to give up our struggle against the indiscriminate killings. We victims have to protest by observing strikes, but we have to prepare ourselves to protest by other means also to save our new generation. Recently we witnessed how people supported the hartal, called it a genuine move and came on streets to protest against the gang rape of two women, but some times the same people get sick of hartal when they feel it unnecessary and this results in confusion and distrust. Our leadership has this sensitive responsibility to use their “only” option so that we don’t reach the point of exhaustion so quickly. It seems that we are more dependent on hartal than a leader who could make a strategy to give a shape to the ongoing moment so that everyone including rich and poor or children could feel secure. Our leaders call for hartal, and people bear the loss to keep Kashmir cause alive. But this hartal ends without any change in the situation instead we lose more lives and economy. Those who kill innocents have nothing to do with our economy or the state of mind. Infact our misery makes them happier. Economy is one of the factors, but the concern here is that we are not really able to defend ourselves by only observing hartal. It has made us cynical, as we don’t know the other ways of protesting.
Today when the strike is announced, our intellectuals are the first who lock themselves in their homes, while as, our students remain cut off from the education. And as the result our future generation would be illiterate and easy to be exploited by anyone. We solute our leaders, but sorry to mention, what after Geelani when there is no one to call for strikes frequently and the killings would be on the same rate may be higher, no one is here forever.  The system will fall apart, and our already collapsed society will leave no trace behind.
“Long live Kashmir” but do we really mean it? Or it is as monotonous as a ring tone. From the last sixty years we have almost lost each detail of our culture. What would we pass on to our next generation? It is not the first time that Kashmiris are struggling for the survival. Our culture and beautiful environment makes us proud of our being, but do we really consider our culture, landscape and environment part and parcel of Kashmir. When the Indian army breaks the windowpanes of our mosque we protest with all our vigour and we must against any such incident. We have 5000 mosques in Kashmir. I wish we protest the same way against the army for illegitimately possessing our only SPS museum, they stole our rich heritage, our past from us and exported them to Delhi and other parts of India. Today our only museum is almost empty, desolated and serves as the bunker for Indian army. The walls of museums, that were adorned with the fine miniature paintings and paper-machie, are now smeared with the black smoke as they burn wood to cook and to keep themselves warm in the winter inside the museum. Should we blame army or ourselves for our illiteracy?
For the last two decades Kashmiri artists, writers and poets were not given the space they deserve instead scaring their audience, shutting down the platforms they had already discouraged them. All this resulted in the collapse of our famous means of communication to the world like Bande Pther, Ladishah, Kashir Mousiki, minature paintings etc. We have Internet but we lack the platform where people can criticize each other’s ideas and refine them. We targeted the cinema, which once screened “The Loin of Desert” or Umar Mukhtar, and this film resulted in bringing the revolution against the suppression in Kashmir. These means would have served as the mirror and guide for our struggle.
Today we are unaware of what is going on in the world outside. How the people in conflict zones like Palestine, Iraq are documenting their experience of conflict and fighting against it. This intellectual movement exposes the suppressers and unveils the wild and ugly face of civilized world and at the same time the moment encourages the people to work for themselves and for the nation, use their art as the tool of defense, releasing their frustration and warns the world of the dark future.
We are being tortured and harassed for decades now but our present tragedy it that we lack strategy. We have forgotten our power, but, at the same time we are being killed with fine strategy and with hundred of weapons like probes, custodial killings, fake encounters, disappearances, rape, murder, tortures and of course suffocation by everyday harassment.
We have lost more than one hundred thousand innocent lives, more than fifteen thousand Kashmiris are disappeared and our whole generation has been devastated. There is a heap of our memorandums in UN offices now. We have made hundreds of appeals to the human rights advocates like Amnesty International etc, but nothing has changed.  People here are being suppressed and killed everyday. With all this experience and having lost the trust in the world we stand confused at the crossroads.
It is time that we had a look at the map of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh, our boundaries, population and above all the rich past to take lesson from it. We will get the idea of our power and how we can defend our selves to live freely.
We need to educate people to get the independence of the mind first.  We need self-reliability for ideas and resources. We had golden treasures like handicrafts, agriculture, and tourism and many other such sources. We need to train ourselves again in these jobs to unearth what God has blessed us with and get back on our feet.
Today we are paralyzed and outsiders are feeding us. And this resulted in the fall of last year’s revolution when more than twelve hundred thousand people were in Eidgah and our passion froze due to the blockade for highway. And we didn’t even brother to take a lesson from this failure.
For strategy, we need the debates we see at the places like barbers, coffee shops, bakers shop while waiting for the bread in the morning but on the bigger platforms like seminars, art exhibitions, theater, public gatherings, poetry sessions etc and our leader must listen to us.  We need to train ourselves so that we can take our genuine cause to the common man at the global level by the means
of art, poetry, books and debates etc before they label us anything what we are not. We need to look at the examples set by the other nations who fought for independence successfully.
Our struggle has to continue on many counts. We have to pass on our cause, heritage, beautiful environment, rich culture and history to our future generations. Mere slogans won’t do, we will have to work on all fronts. Of course, we have to pelt stones to keep ourselves safe from the suppressers, but we have to sculpt our future too.

(Malik Sajjad is Editorial Cartoonist Greater Kashmir)

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