Why the Kashmir charade never ends
The Happy, Progressive Kashmir: Do You Know It?
By Mir Qayoom
I am so amazed. Back in 2019, I had read each page, each word of Bashir Assad’s courageous, path-breaking debut book K File: The Conspiracy of Silence. The book gave me some understanding, but couldn’t open my eyes to this big circus in Kashmir. As they say, the Light dawns when has to.
There is such a big joke at play in Kashmir. There is a cuss word commonly used across north India. Ye hamara wahi bana rahey hain. Apna bhi bana rahey hain, hamara bhi bana rahey hain. Kyon bana rahey hain, ye nahin pata. Why have a section of Kashmiris become so blinded that they are killing themselves and getting their children killed? I cannot figure out. But there is a huge, grotesque, bizarre joke at play here. Everybody is jumping. On this side of the fence, on that side of the fence. Kashmir is on fire! Kashmir is on fire!
BS! There is just a huge joke at play. The emperor is not wearing any clothes. The emperor is nanga. But everybody is pitching in, shaking their heads in worry that Kashmir is on fire. And trying to find out the solution to that fire.
You think there is a fire on? Check out the lives of all those who want to lead happy and prosperous lives in Kashmir. They wanted to. They have done so.
Most of all, check out the traditional Kashmiri elites, the affluent mullah clans of Kashmir. They are living the good life right there in Srinagar, Anantnag, Kupwara, Pulwama, Baramulla, Sopore and more. They are having a ball. There is wealth, the most plush houses you shall see, big cars, secure jobs or flourishing businesses.
The affluent members of the other castes too are living the good life. Kashmir is no Kandahar. Kashmiris love to live life king size. They enjoy abundance and affluence. They are aspirational. They enjoy all the trappings of the good life. And they live it. Why hasn’t the Indian state busted the big myth of Kashmir being dukhi and oppressed? Why hasn’t the opulent life of Kashmir been brought to light for all of India and the world to see? I cannot figure out. All Kashmiris who have wanted to achieve something positive have done so. They live happy, fulfilled lives because they want to. Life is always about the choices one makes.
The charade of the conflict never ends
The charade of the conflict in Kashmir never ends. Everybody is playing the charade here. Lies oft repeated are regarded as the truth. Going up amidst this huge make-believe, many among the young generations of Kashmir now believe this charade to be the only reality.
The charade played on the politics of victimization. Those thriving on the conflict economy have drawn immense benefits from the politics of victimization. The Indian state was always walking on eggshells around these conflict entrepreneurs. They were enjoying this huge joke, always showing India the middle finger. The tragedy is that the charade comes with costs. The Kashmiri society paid heavily for it.
The Mullahs And Their Kids Aren’t Part Of This Muck
Note this: the affluent mullah clans of Kashmir don’t pick up the gun. They and their families lead prosperous, fulfilled lives. The rogues among them reap the benefits of the conflict. These rogues remain at the forefront, driving the bloody narrative. The gun is placed in the hands of the sons of poor Kashmiris. The poor are inspired to kill and die in the name of jihad.
The children of the mullahs study in good schools and professional colleges. They don’t get exposed to indoctrination at school. They take up white-collar jobs. Some of them are armchair jihadis, but none of them get into the battlefield to die. This task is left for the sons of poor Kashmiris.
The mullahs of Kashmir control the levers of power – be it politics, bureaucracy, trade, media and so on. The rogues among them have perfected the charade. Some feign a sympathetic or protective attitude while others adopt an aggressive approach.
Mullahs Ke Ghar Pe Party Chal Rahi Hai
You watch the Mullah clans of Kashmir, and there is no conflict. Zilch. These are the traditional Kashmiri elites. Abunant, joyful families. Large get-togethers. The numbers at their parties have reduced due to Covid. Even during Covid times, family weddings are grand and houses are decked up like resorts.
The children of the mullahs study in the best colleges and universities in Indian metros and work in blue chip companies. When it’s time for weddings, these happy clans dance merrily to Bollywood hits or to popular Kashmiri songs. The elites live the good life. A rich, charming girl says into the camera, “Ye mein hoon, ye Hamara ghar hai, aur hamare yahan shaadi ki paaarrrty chal rahi hai.”
This is the so-called conflict region for you, folks. This is Kashmir. The girl is absolutely right. Yahan sach mein party chal rahi hai. Aur chalni bhi chahiye. Affluent Kashmiris give so much gold to their daughters and daughters in law, that the bride is truly weighed down by the gold. The families proudly say – hum ne bride ko gold mein tolna hai. Again – the so-called conflict region. When the sons or daughters of Kashmir’s mullah clans marry, caste supremacy is always upheld. “None of those Wani, Bhat, Rather etc. We don’t marry into those families. They are convertees. Our weddings take place only among high caste Kashmiris,” says a matron of the mullah clan with pride. I look at the various social media posts on Kashmir, always doing the big crying act. Always crying Kashmir Kashmir! What the *%#&* is going on here? What are these hashtags carrying on with? For whom is the conflict? It is only for sections of the peasantry class.
Pakistan Manufactures The Conflict For Kashmir’s Lower Classes: Their Sons Are Cannon Fodder
Jamaat e Islami and similar other so-called socio-religious organisations have been driving the conflict for decades through government schools and madrasas. The result: a sizable number of children from the lower classes who study in these schools and madrasas are deeply indoctrinated. They look at everything from the conflict filter. These children are the ones who choose to die for some obscure goals of illusory Islamic and Heavenly Glory. The children of the Kashmiri elite, meanwhile, continue to enjoy privileged jobs, businesses and positions.
Entire industries are built around sustaining the Kashmir sob story. Pakistan whips up Kashmir and claims that India is an existential threat. The so-called global Kashmiri experts cry over the big lie created in and over Kashmir. Everybody is living this big lie. And everybody is playing along. For those who gain from it, there is big money in keeping the lie going.
Many years ago, I had heard the quote: Everybody loves a good drought. It was in the Kashmir context that I finally understood it. Everybody is loving the drought in Kashmir. Everybody is milking it to get big.
Why good governance is vital for Kashmir
The so-called Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of Kashmir has milked the conflict for decades. Fattened by Pakistan for keeping Kashmir on boil, they have led opulent lives. The JRL deliberately crippled the delivery of governance. Conflict with the state brought with it social and economic challenges for Kashmir.
Simultaneously, radicalization was sold to the Kashmiris in the name of Islam. The JRL never took up the gun itself. The children of Kashmir’s affluent mullah clans did not take up the gun. It is the poor man and his sons who have chosen to kill and die. Kashmir will change when the poor man and his children feel a qualitative difference in their lives. Good governance and efficient delivery can make that possible.Why do successful professionals, businessmen, artistes continue to emerge from the elite clans of Kashmir? Why do terrorists, over-ground workers, radicalized young men emerge from the poor sections of Kashmir?
The difference is in the education. The affluent Kashmiris send their children to schools where the thrust is on global-standard education and cosmopolitan thinking. The poor send their children to government schools or madrasa. Most of these are compromised by radicalization and competitive Islamization. An alarming percentage of government school teachers are Jamaat-e-Islami activists or terror sympathizers. They were co-opted by the State Education Department after many FAT schools were shut down by the government. They continue to live with the ideology that initially shaped them. The result – to quote a Kashmiri intellectual – is a sharp decline in thinking minds. The poor man’s children are brought up with an idealized version of the Islamic caliphate, totally divorced from rationality and geo-political realities. Steeped in radicalization, these children are easily moved to unquestioning violence.