An arresting photograph, earlier this week, on the front page of this newspaper, caught my attention. Some 30 young women, in college uniform, faces partly covered, are gathered beside standee panels that say ‘Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan’. At least 10 of the girls hurl stones—dhan dhana dhan—in the direction of photographer Nissar Ahmad where he is, most probably, standing alongside the J&K Police or the Indian paramilitary.
The photograph draws notice for several reasons. For one, it is perhaps the first time we are seeing an image of Kashmiri girls/ women pelting stones. We’ve more or less got used, over the past decade or so, to images of Kashmiri boys/ men throwing stones. We’ve even seen the local police and armed forces indulge in stone throwing.[/quote]
Girls are seen for the first time in the stone action.
When Modi government came in place in the centre in India Yasin Malik or Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front was there on an Indian TV show called Apki Adalat - Your Court.
The show is conducted by a person called Rajat Sharma.
In last few years he has come out an a rabid and out and out partisan person shamelessly advocating the anti-Muslim drive of RSS-BJP-VHP-Bajrand_Dal and all that, the Sangh parivar or the saffron Brigade.
Yasin Malik said that people in Kashmir are saying that we shall face much tougher time now that Modi is the PM of India.
As the events unfolding later on have shown us this has turned out to be the case.
Then there is this new chapter unfolding before us.
Earlier too people had been pointing out that half of indian army is posted in Kashmir.
This was usually taken by the official establishment to mean that India is acting excessively.
In reality the point made by the people was different.
They meant that India is over streatching her capabilities.
Numerically it means that a population, Indian side of Kashmir valley, of about seven million has held up about half of Indian army-seven hundred thousand.
Internationally that is the largest employment of army in the world.
The girls pelting stones presents a paradigm shift - if that was needed at all.
Kashmir problem has dumb founded Indian intelligentsia.
It is surprising because historically the issue does not look very complex.
At the time of partition Sardar Patel, helped by Jawaharlal Nehru, dissolved all Indian princely states that were lying in the geographical area that would be India into India.
In this statement it looks like a dry and boring administrative procedure but in the craft of state building it was a monumental achievement.
A Hindu majority princely state, Hyderabad Deccan, ryled by a Muslim ruler was ultimately absorbed in India and that too with considerable Muslim bloodshed - an army action that was called police action.
What should be done for a Muslim majority state ruled by a Hindu?
That was Kashmir.
After the partition Kashmir opted to remain independent of both Indi and Pakistan but latter sent tribal armies into Kashmir whose intention could only have been to assimilate Kashmir in Pakistan.
Kashmiris lost the nerve and asked India to help and Nehru was very willing, perhaps too willing, to offer help. Indian army protected them from tribals sent in.
Then one Kashmiris realized that Indian army should go back and leave Kashmir to Kashmiris.
The person to contact the then Prime Minister of India was Shaikh Abdullah, himself a Prime Minister, this time of Kashmir. Shaikh Abdullah was a friend of Jawaharlal Nehru, Nehru himself being a kashmiri Pandit - a Brahmin.
Nehru did the sweet thing. He imprisoned his friend Shaikh Abdullah for asking a silly question like withdrawal of indian army from Kashmir.
Of course there some other important details in this context like UN resolution on Kashmir, article 370 of India constitution, plebiscite in Kashmir, democratic process in Kashmir every single one of which can lead to very volatile conversation.
That is why this sinner hs been avoiding talking about Kashmir all this time.
The Hindu majority in india, not only the saffron brigade but the majority in general, will not like any presentation of the problem of Kashmir given by a Muslim of India. The result is that Muslims in india keep their mouth shut on this issue.
What about Indian position on this issue - in that context above quoted paragraph says a lot if one can get the hint or if one can read in between the lines.
Of course, for all of them, it was the boys who were being irrationally violent. None of them thought it necessary to mention that the mere presence of 7,00,000 armed personnel in the Valley, the largest mobilisation at a single point anywhere in the world is, by itself, an act of brute violence. For them, it was merely an exercise in LoC management. None thought it necessary to ask why the guns were pointed internally. The late Prof. Dharampal, one of the intellectuals the Hindutva brigade loves to quote, has pointed out an interesting moment in Valmiki Ramayana when, for the first time, the otherwise subservient Sita questions Rama. It is just before they are to set out to the forest. Seeing that both Rama and Lakshmana, though dressed austerely enough for the forest, are nevertheless carrying their bows and arrows, a troubled Sita breaks her silence and asks, “Why do you carry arms into the forest? Just as taking a flame to a bunch of dried wood can cause a fire, so too carrying arms into the forest can cause violence and war.” The presence of the Indian armed forces in Kashmir has similar consequences. Governance or resolution has been substituted by military occupation leading, inevitably, to endless attrition.
Again this Indian writer has been trying to tell the truth that was known to all but not mentioned by anybody. To read in between the lines the the only option.
Ever since partition problems of muslims have not doubled but tripled.
Pakistan is not a well managed project.
Bangladesh has not come out of the identity crisis.
India has failed in dealing with the problems of Muslims at the same monumental level.
Once upon a time there was a man called Sanjay Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi.
Someone convinced that brat that Muslims are multiplying uncontrolably in India.
The moron went on a top drive of forced vasectomy and tubectomy of Muslims.
Similar hot headed solution was applied in Kashmir.
Once that exquisitely beautiful state fell into Indian hand, more out of providence than wisdom, then India went about owing it not by love but force.
The end result is for all to see. How does an unarmed population show its sentiments? Parts of India look like European lanscapes. Kashmir physically looks like Switzerland but, again phyisically, also looks like UP. In fact worse than UP.
The oft repeated sentiment in India is that Kashmir is an integral part of India.
The other part of the sentiment is little bit less pleasing.
When Italy occupied Libya and later Ethiopia one of the more brutal generals effectively had the philosophy to get Ethiopia (earlier Libya) with our without the Ethiopians.
thankfully we have not heard that kind of words from Indian army in Kashmir but ground reality is very unpleasant.
Again the writer of this opinion piece simply can not come out with his actual feelings.
In the 1970s, Susan Sontag, a pioneering theorist of the photographed image, had proposed that the photograph might have lost its ‘power to enrage’ and that a sensitive narrative might do this more effectively. However, the photographs from Kashmir prove otherwise. These images of the sheer takeover of the life and liberty of a people and the brutal violence they are subjected to; the constant interruption, disruption and dehumanisation of their lives; the blatant violation of local, national and international laws by instruments of the state; the impunity with which terror and torture is administered (by the state, not by ‘terrorists’); the unconscionable uses that AFSPA and pellet guns are put to, etc., certainly indicate how to transform outrage into political action. The young girls in the photograph are a product of that schooling.
And bravo - this time he said it!
It is constant interruption, disruption and dehumanisation of their lives.
It is occupation.
Clearly Kashmir has not been an easy issue for Indian nerves too.
May be even India has lost the perspective that is requisite to deal with a very volatile and sensitive issue. One can say it at least for those who are directly involved with the matter.
Of course India is a big country and there are people who advocate more official violence from the cozy drawing rooms of their homes.
[quote]Witness clearly establishes how the image itself has become an integral component of the waging of conflict. The public sphere gets constituted by the visual technologies integral to the conflict. Ironically, the photographer is often positioned within the perspective of the battle and even becomes a soldier/ reporter who visually consecrates the destructive acts of the conflict. The visual effects of the conflict, then, become the ground of everyday life, almost destroying our abilities of discrimination and focus. It is a situation where photographing a leaf or a bird or a bride could be interpreted as an act of betrayal.
Many people will miss the import of this paragraph. Let me help them.
The sentiments in india are so heightened, the nerves so frayed that even a pastime activity might get interpreted as an act of political nature.
[quote]It is interesting now to reflect on how, from the time of the Vietnam and Palestine wars and now recently in Iraq, Syria and Kashmir, the visual realm has converted the victim of aggression into a non-being, a metal (therefore, non-human) shield, who can be assaulted at will, without scruple or shame. The Indian army’s use of pellet guns on unarmed youngsters or of tying a civilian to the bonnet of a vehicle is a product of such immoral thinking. When the larger civil society does not respond to such acts is when this immorality becomes a collective crime.
This paragraph is remarkable in its expanse of canvas, exquisite focussing and hitting the target with micro level accuracy.
[quote]And that is when little girls pick up stones and take to the streets to make us re-examine our conscience—and our nationhood.
I doubt that this hitting the nail on the head will imediately percolate to the gray matter of the India Babudom - the highly intellectual bureaurocracy but the arrow has been shot.
[quote]The writer went with his camera, for 25 years, to many conflict situations; today he is conflicted about the role of photography.
Thank you Sadanand Menon. You have done what no one has done till now - you have peeled off some the layers from the unpleasant truth.