KASHMIR –not BEFORE OUR EYES
Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad
This is in response to the “festival” titled ‘Kashmir –Before our eyes : A festival of films on Kashmir’ jointly organized by the school of Arts and Aesthetics , Centre for English Studies , Jawaharlal Nehru University and Films Division Zone, Mumbai on Sep. 22-29 , 2013. This so called film festival on Kashmir featured some selective short documentaries besides some selected readings and deliberative discussions. Many known ‘intellectuals’, film makers, M.Phil and PhD students and some lesser know song writers had been invited to debate Kashmir in SAA Auditorium of JNU in New Delhi. Whether or not these people will help solve Kashmir Imbroglio is difficult to comprehend but something which is very explicit in the programme and in the after-movie discussions is that the arguments on Kashmir are severely presented in an obfuscated manner and an obstruction of ambiguities is created to form a smokescreen precisely to overshadow and evade the real issues and questions on Kashmir. These local and non-local ‘junkers’ through their politico-intellectual and economic supremacy are hard trying to capture the voices of dissent and through their noblesses-oblige are presenting the distorted arguments by creating a misleading impression of the ‘real Kashmir issue’. These traditional and vulgarized film makers, state funded intellectuals can be considered the category of ‘intellectuals’ which in the words of famous Philosopher and Intellectual Antonio Gramsci ‘are organically bound to the state and state machinery’. These people believe and always carry a misconception that they are a lot of autonomous, independent and unbiased intellectuals, when in reality they have managed this Gramscian ‘esprit de corps’ through the state patronage. Cut short, state feeds these intellectuals, nutrifies them, recognizes them and then makes use of them to change, malign and distort the basic character of people’s movement and popular discourse. These individuals hailing from various ‘elite and royal’ families have formed a guild of self styled celebrated authors and song writers whose work the state can tolerate, reward and appreciate. These self styled ‘intellectuals’ can be very much compared with the ‘American Negro Intellectuals’, who were groomed simply to be used as agents for the American expansionism in Africa or for that matter with some Indian intellectuals who by blood and colour were Indians but in reality were carrying the Whiteman’s agenda. These state funded pseudo- intellectuals, amateur film makers, royal and elite radicals are wearing the mask for concealing their real identity and are busy repeating the litany of their ‘fancy’ idea. Busy, as they are, in objectification and commodification of the dead souls and rape victims for their personnel privileges. Busy in letting unwanted propaganda and misinformation to spread about Kashmir. And after successfully doing all this drama these individuals in collaboration with the state organize an annual feast or what they call a “film festival”.
Festival for what?
Is it celebrating the dead souls of tens of thousands of Kashmiris who where mercilessly killed by the state or entertaining the heinous mass rape of Kunan Poshpora’s victims? Is this the festival for successfully commodifying the agony of the victims or festival for achieving all their implicit designs?
In the name of these short films these people are actually not countering the ‘bootstrapped silence of the army’s continuing impunity’ as is argued by others elsewhere but they are producing the same rhetorical lamentations and presenting the same old absurd and distorted views about Kashmir. This lot, through various techniques and technologies are confusing the masses, bringing in unnecessary and irrelevant discourses and present Kashmir as a ‘communal issue’, which is inherently fraught with blatant lies and far from the reality.
May I dare to ask some other bold questions to these royal fellows and elite film makers? That who on earth has given you the right and license to commodify the sentiment of the oppressed? Who has given these ‘imperial intellectuals’ the authority for creating social, economic and political capital by broadcasting and romanticizing the torture and nagging voice of the victims? Will you ‘elite intellectuals’ please explicate on your ‘theory of ‘romanticization’ and tell us how and who sponsors you to USA immediately after you write a novel or make a documentary? Will you please for heaven’s sake tell us also about your implicit messages you carry in these ‘powerful’ films and novels which otherwise goes beyond a common man’s comprehension?
One wonders why this intractable group of pseudo intellectuals are so dear to the state that a University of repute (National in character) is dedicating all its assets to welcome them. University officials waiting with garlands and a red-carpet reception for these ‘visibly yuppie revolutionaries’ raises many questions and serious doubts. Because the same state in the recent past booked and bulldozed many individuals for exercising the same intellectual right. Jammu and Kashmir police without wasting time booked 15 officials of JK Board on sedition charges in 2011 for publishing an illustration in a local text book. For one illustration fifteen officials were jailed. Not only this but the same state very recently arrested and suspended another college professor under the charges of ‘Unlawful Activities Act’ for framing a question for graduate level examinees allegedly attempting "to glorify the Kashmiri stone pelters”. Why this discrepancy when both the parties and individuals are explicitly asking and doing the same thing? Why one lands in a jail with dozens of FIRs and the other in Manhattan USA? Why are some so dear to the state that even the top level officials of the state are accompanying for documenting and colleting so called “facts” about Kashmir conflict and the other is pushed behind the dead, dark and dissolute walls of state torture centers.
The answer to these questions is probably simple and easy to comprehend. These self-styled poster people of our struggle are paid and encouraged to damage and do much harm and exacerbate the real cause. They are nourished to help state create a smokescreen to hide and erase the real issues. Kashmir conflict, which is an internationally recognized political dispute need not be captured either in documentaries or in novel writing just for economic and other incentives but a discourse devoid of opportunism and adventurism is required. We all need to immediately dispel the perception that a ‘short film’ or a novel with concocted stories will help the cause of Kashmir and we all should eschew this intellectual vandalism of Kashmir discourse by doing this filthy, murky politics which is full of drama and state –melody.
The author is PhD scholar at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.