Kashmir: The Azadi Illusion

10 February 2015
Bilal Shaheen

Srinagar: Just as individuals do nations too should take stock of their lives. We must ask ourselves as a society, and as a nation, is Azadi the only viable and ultimate solution to the 'complex state-of-affairs' in Kashmir we were attested to?. Is there any alternative to it? If yes, what is that noble Idea and what should be done to cherish it? Azadi has become a voguish word in our poisonous lexicon. It has left us numb and overburdened us with lofty ideas, political failures and military agressions. The collateral damage our society encountered during the past three decades has proved hafazard with no end in sight. The 66 year tirade against the Indian occupation proved superflous and now an undeniable fact of our life. It has vehemently ravaged our social fabric, torn apart our economy and criminalised our social life. The major discourse on Kashmir cherished azadi as the only viable political strategy to put permanent end to political aggression and the military offensive. The vociferous support for azadi is premised on its promise of returning agency to the community and win back our distinctive identity and cultural pride. The apparently grand success of our freedom struggle to resist the temptations of the imperial power gave azadi a wider recognition. But behind this apparent sucess, lies a hapless nation of agonized, traumatised and fear-rotten lives. In its aweful journey, our azadi struggle left us valnurable to empty rhetoric and the consequent state terrorism. Our stiffle resistence to overthrew the last vestiges of colonialis has turned nightmare and eating up the vitals of our society. Maqbool Bhat, Afzal Guru and thousands other were no ordinary men. These sons of soil sacrificed their everything for a cause, the cause which continously haunt us as a hydra-headed monster. One tricky question lingering on in the mind of every Kashmiri is this; Why our azadi struggle failed so miserably and why this struggle always breeds voilence, repression and alienation. Does our unencumbered obsession with azadi is doing an allround destruction and pushing our collective life to a grinding halt?.Or is azadi a political utopia, a false consciousness to paraphrase Marx. Colonialism is the most horrific human invention. Colonialism not only plundered the lands but corrupted the minds as well. History shows time and again that what is more horrific is the struggle against colonialism. Every challenging attempt is overtly meted with sheer force. There is no alternative to azadi in Kashmir. Azadi is the sole legitimate force of winning political freedom. But Our meta-narrative of azadi is repugnant with leadership crisis and Intellectual vaccum. Intellectuals apply their intellect and forward-looking vision for the awakening of society. Intellectuals are the agents of change, particularly in those parts of the world where unjust and abberant behaviour are the norm. The social responsibility of leadership is to put into practice this intellectual imagination and drove their societies out of the abnormal political order. Lack of Intellectual activism and good leadership is a major tragedy with our freedom struggle. These two things prevent any well-ordered resistence coming into offing and pushing our movement into doldrums. In the absence of a coordinated strategy and responsible leadership, our euphemism with azadi is lurking between hope and despair. Hypocrisy is the order of the day in Kashmir. The ruthless power of colonialism has destroyed our alternative ways of thinking and employed the practice of 'epistemic voilence'. Every attempt against the repressive order is seen with suspicion and attract diverse and loathal practices of voilence. The radicalization of politics during 1990's remain a watershed period in the history of Kashmir freedom movement. It marked the end of civilized order and its overtaking by the militant political order. Militarism, of both brands, deeply penetrated our psychogy and tarnished our image as the paraside on earth. The enthusiastic militants of yesteryears turned belligerant renegades which plummeted the idea of azadi as a mere rhetoric. The period saw the destruction, killings and plunder on a scale never equalled in history so far. We don't have enough resources, both human and material, to repeat the horrors of 2008 and 2010. We must make sense of this lost of precious human capital. Dream of azadi today posed a serious threat to our existence. Are not we heading toward a collective suicide. Our azadi struggle failed miserably at the peak of its chances of sucess. The use of sheer force remain a major strategem which has prevented our struggle from becoming a grand strategy. But it can't be denied that the lack of well organised and coordinated leadership was a significant stumbling block in the grand sucess of our azadi struggle. The fissures within the Hurriyat not only pushing our struggle into doldrums but divided the public opinion as well. Disunity among the Hurriyat leadership was a major roadblock in the creation of a mass struggle. Time is high to address this question of what azadi mean and earn for us. Our Hurriyats and azadi preachers devise ways and means to combat this voilent character of resistence or stop bullying us as the prophets of empty rhetoric. The author is a writer-activist, based in Kashmir.