Skip to main content

Kashmir's minor stone-thrower elevated to the status of a vicious enemy who needs to be dealt with “sternly”

Counterview Desk
Open letter by Murtaza Shibli, a well-known writer and consultant on Muslim issues in Europe and South Asia, editor of ‘7/7: Muslim Perspectives’, a book that explores the British Muslim reaction to the London bombings, to the Indian army chief:
Ever since you assumed the top position within the Indian army, Kashmiris have been following your statements with quite an interest. This is because they are unique despite now being too many – from outright threats to elderly counsels, and prophecies to the ones that clearly show that you are as clueless as the rest of us despite being in the thick of the things. On the few odd occasions, your statements have provoked me to write as I took exception to some of those pronouncements.
Not that I have anything personal against you or that I am inherently disposed to detest the men in uniform, but because your words challenged me both as a Kashmiri and a human being. Regardless of my criticism and disagreements, I have developed certain awe for you because of your willingness to offer unvarnished and brutally honest opinions. No matter how uncouth or unsuitable some of these declarations may sound, you say what you believe in and with full force of your conviction. For that you rise above your contemporaries in India, and perhaps in the region.
I find it extremely fascinating that you are captivated by the Kashmiri yearning for azadi and the charismatic lore of its slogans; the concept seems to have overpowered your imagination more than the slogan shouting kids on our streets. This should afford you enough clues about the power of dreams even when the people have to deal with nightmares on a diurnal basis. Coming back to the favourite topic of azadi, I seem content with your observations that Kashmiris cannot fight your army. To be fair to my kindred, this does not need any complex set of algorithms or rocket science calculations to bring it to the fore. 
This is so very obvious that even the boys err the PhD scholars and academics that leave the classrooms and choose to fight your expansive wherewithal might know about it. But the power of dreams, as the history might teach those of us willing to learn, is often more potent that the visions that wanton power can invoke and actualise on the ground. Before you start revving up your lethally armed drones to conduct a surgical strike on a small-time pen-pusher like me, let me quickly add a disclaimer: I am not too fond of acquiescing to the identities thrust upon by the politically motivated arrangements of cartography.
Like every other Kashmiri, I feel frustrated for having to live in an open prison that affords us nothing but despair, death and destruction. As a Kashmiri, I have a dream that we should be allowed to live in dignity and respect, in an atmosphere where no one, not even the Army Chief of the third biggest military force, can cast aspersions on our allegiances or yearnings, or can feel empowered to issue threats with an aim to discourage us from engaging in the politics of dissent. 
The political nature of the problem that you have also alluded to in your statements means that the situation needs to be handled with care. However, when you feel empowered to continually issue threats against civilians, it is hard to believe there is any appetite left for engaging in a political dialogue or perusing a non-violent solution. 
Also, when you start feeling good about the conduct of your forces and goad Kashmiris for being ungrateful for having been spared afflictions such as Bashar Al Assad has visited upon his countrymen, you are alarmingly legitimising your misconduct. Aside from whether you meant this for simply comparing the two situations or to offer us a pointed glimpse of what lies ahead, I feel consternated that you have started to use the war conduct of the thuggish Syrian military as some sort of a benchmark to measure your own performance.
I understand your frustration for having to deal with the Kashmiris. Honestly, I am exhausted being one, as it offers little room for any meaningful engagement with our adversaries or competitors to chart out a future with any possible positive outcome. If I had a choice I would love to be incarnated as a Brahman with a creative freedom to interpret the past and the future while living a cushy life at present! 
Through your statements, you have elevated a minor stone-thrower to the status of a vicious enemy who needs to be dealt with “sternly”. You also justify glaringly illegal and immoral actions on the ground including the use of civilians as human shields. Then you also wonder as to why Kashmiris are all that angry? While I feel genuinely sorry for your inability to discern the obvious, I would suggest you to hold your fire till the time you are confident and knowledgeable enough to understand their rage. It is not demanding at all to nurse an expectation that having served in Kashmir prior to your elevation would have afforded you some valuable opportunities to understand the ground situation. 
But you may be forgiven for perhaps being too busy in ‘peacemaking’ – generating news stories with the help of pliable hacks on the ground – under the rubric of the Sadhbava (goodwill) programmes. At the same time, I must show some sympathy for it must be really terrible operating in an atmosphere that evokes nothing but dread. When you seek guarantees for safety of your men and material, you are acknowledging the fear of dealing with a public who are no more willing to be cowered down.
General Sahib: If more than half a million personnel with a partisan legal and institutional framework cannot bring you a sense of security even when the militant resistance is all but symbolic, things are terribly wrong. You should start seriously questioning your political leadership who are pushing you to fight not an ‘enemy’ on a par with your professional training or outlook, but a bunch of angry and untrained stone-throwers. It is bad enough to push politics on their behalf, but worse to politicise yourself and your service to suppress what is actually a political rights’ movement.
In the end I would like to share some good news. The Legislative Assembly of Punjab, the largest province in Pakistan, has issued a customary condemnation for your recent comments that also provoked me to write this letter. I can assure you that at least half of the lawmakers at the Assembly don’t even know the difference between the two sides of the divided state. None of them can pronounce your name, and almost all of them think you are actually a place on the outskirts of the federal capital Islamabad. Worse, I have seen some of them really getting cheesed off as to why Pakistan was not allowing its citizens to visit Srinagar to “expose the Indian atrocities”.
This should afford you some solace in the fact that ignorance rules on both sides!

Comments

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Nehru legacy? GDP-centric growth has had 'no positive impact' on people's livelihood

By Dr Kamal Nayan Kabra*  Experience has shown that many counties adopt measures to go in for the growth of their GDP, basically in the existing framework, though also going in for, at the same time, new products and technologies and similar other changes. It is believed that by means of this process enough new job opportunities would emerge to meet the economy’s needs both in terms of numbers as also in terms of the requisite remuneration (wages) as also the supplies of the goods and services to maintain the economy on an even keel.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.

Conceived as infrastructure, western approach 'not fit' for building Indian cities

By Arjun Kumar* A recent webinar on Rethinking the City, organized by the Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) at the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, even as stating that Western concept of city cannot be applied on India, insisted, urban areas were conceived as infrastructure, disregarding the actual inhabitants who live in there. Those who participated in the webinar included Prof Pithamber Rao Polsani, Faculty and Dean, School of Advanced Studies and Research, Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design & Technology, and Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla and Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI. The session was initiated by Tikender Singh Panwar providing the context on the current state of city planning in India. He emphasized the need for more sustainable models in order improved urban habitation. Prof Pithamber Rao Polsani focused on two important factors that force us to rethink the city as a construct and a space of habita

As Afghan economy crumbles, West working out emergency plans for 'cash airlifts'

By MK Bhadrakumar*  The Taliban is getting many suitors lately. It is far from the “pariah” that the Biden Administration thought it was destined to be. During the past month alone, the Taliban received six suitors from the region and beyond offering courtship – the foreign minister of Qatar; the special envoys of Russia, China and Pakistan; the High representative of UK Prime Minister; and the foreign minister of Uzbekistan who visited Kabul on Thursday.