Friday, December 12, 2014

Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad
No doubt many in Kashmir today would agree with Carlyle’s famous maxim that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men”. They also believe that the discourse of “azadi” in Kashmir is written and verbalized in such a fashion where most of the attention is focused on few luminaries who like ‘elephant in the parlor’ try seek and grab more attention.
The new writers often wittingly and unwittingly adopt a tunnel vision view to deliberately create a smoke screen in order to ignore and forget those who really deserve the mention. Anonymity and inscrutability thus continuously engulfs those who really have created the discourse of “azadi” and have explicated its meaning.
No wonder, today, the discourse of “azadi” in Kashmir has got reduced to an “aristocratic pseudo intellectualism business” whereby a few, “English speaking and nonresident Kashmiri intellectuals” have created a new dialogue on Kashmir ignoring the quintessence of the conflict itself.
This new wave of “azadi” writing with elite colors is not only undermining the real contributors but is also eulogizing wrong heads and hands. Those who deserve to be the subjects and objects of our history are elapsed as if they never matter. No one has ever bended the stick to other direction to hear the voiceless masses or to appreciate the real, local discourse. These new romantic narratives of “azadi” won’t serve any purpose unless the actual or peoples narrative is not restored to its rightful place.
The contributions made by our socially subordinate, illiterate and subaltern people have unfortunately not left the paper trail that these new writers customarily depend on for evidence. They rather use the paradigm of English written novels and other fiction, and never bother to reexamine the reality or look for the literature written in vernacular languages.
The jargons of western philosophy are used to obfuscate our simpler demands.  People who even have the solutions for the present morass are frenziedly relegated. The folk wisdom and the lore of these illiterate, rural people is considered inferior compared to whatever junk is reflected in English.
This new discourse is exactly following the pattern of writing the gentleman’s history whereby the power relations determine the agenda of writing. Continuous attempts are made by these elite writers to overlook the reality and are attempting to reinforce their status in order to set themselves above the herd of ordinary men.
Whence the examples? Because many may argue that such abstract mode of thought is quite farfetched and possesses least relevance to the ground reality. Fair enough. I have substantial evidence to support my argument.  We have ample number of cases in Kashmir where the stories are being told from the perspective of the elite.
Imagine more than three dozen reviews on Curfewed Nights a short story novel by the son of a state bureaucrat, more than two hundred newspaper articles on Aga Shahid Ali, but not a single piece on those who have more powerfully wrote about Kashmir conflict and in return lost their lives.
Why nothing is published on Operation Eagle or Operation Catch and Kill. Why no one talks about the reputed editor of Azan, Dr. Ghulam Qadir holding a PhD from reputed JNU, New Delhi who lost his life on November 4, 1998 advocating the cause for Kashmir.
Can we afford ignoring Munawar ul Haq Shaheen, Dr Haji Shabir, Ghulam Hassan among the few writers who were burnt alive in a brick kiln for contributing to a tabloid namely Zarb e Kaleem. Jaleel Andrabi is a recent example.
In short, a new framework of Kashmir conflict is under construction, where the facts are distorted and reality is made obscure. The “new poster-boys” are continuously introduced like Hollywood actors with some romantic script and made to run the show while the actual script writers are kept anonymous. This cult of new writing and celebration is creating more problems than solving one.
But condensing the whole discourse to these few “men of enlightenment”  and branding them as only “intellectuals” in the town would qualify as  grossly exclusivist approach which has the potential of alienating a common Kashmiri from his own cause for which he has suffered immeasurably.
Now the question here is why this “cream of the crop writers” voice possesses more power of penetration than the majority. The answer seems simple, that the social and economic capital they have accumulated over the years essentially empowers them to rule the roost. This new culture of telling stories has made the common man’s demands look off the track and labeled his aspirations as esoteric.
In order to show how an ordinary Kashmiri does possess more powerful ideas vis-a-vis his political present and future than those of our “lunar scholars”, some “ordinary writers” of Kashmir should come forward to scrutinize this new elite “azadi” discourse. They should rather show the way by revisiting and documenting the history not only of the people but for the people of Kashmir as well.
We should bring back those people to the stage whose contributions are enormous but are no where mentioned in the new elite discourse, if at all only in birth and death certificates.
Author can be mailed at fayazjustinternational@gmail.com

A GENTLEMEN'S HISTORY OF KASHMIR

A getlemen’s history of Kashmir?

Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad  TFT Issue: 12 Dec 2014
A new elitist discourse on freedom is hurting the Kashmir cause more than helping it
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A getlemen’s history of Kashmir?



Many in Kashmir would agree with Carlyle’s famous maxim that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men”. They also believe that the discourse of Azadi, or freedom, in Kashmir is written and verbalized in such a fashion where most of the attention is focused on a few luminaries who are like elephants in the parlor, while those who have really created the discourse of Azadi and have explicated its meaning remain anonymous. Today, the discourse of Azadi in Kashmir has got reduced to an aristocratic pseudo-intellectualism business whereby a few English Speaking and nonresident Kashmiri “intellectuals” have created a new dialogue on Kashmir ignoring the quintessence of the conflict itself.
This new wave of Azadi writing with elite colors is not only undermining the real contributors but is also eulogizing wrong heads and hands. Those who deserve to be the subjects and objects of our history are ignored as if they never matter. No one has ever bended the stick to other direction to hear the voiceless masses or to appreciate the real, local discourse. These new romantic narratives of Azadi won’t serve any purpose unless the actual, people’s narrative is not restored to its rightful place. The contributions made by our socially subordinate, illiterate and subaltern people have unfortunately not left the paper trail that these new writers customarily depend on for evidence. They rather use the paradigm of English novels and other fiction, and never bother to reexamine the reality or look for the literature written in vernacular languages. The jargons of western philosophy are used to obfuscate our simpler demands. People who even have the solutions for the present morass are frenziedly relegated. The folk wisdom and the lore of these illiterate, rural people is considered inferior compared to whatever is reflected in English.
This new discourse is exactly following the pattern of writing the gentlemen’s history whereby the power relations determine the agenda of writing. Continuous attempts are made by these elite writers to overlook the reality and are attempting to reinforce their status in order to set themselves above the herd of ordinary men.
Can we afford ignoring the writers who were burnt alive in a brick kiln for contributing to a tabloid named Zarb-e-Kaleem?
We read hundreds of reviews of books written in English, but why doesn’t anyone write about Operation Eagle or Operation Catch and Kill? Why does no one talk about the reputed editor of Azan, Dr Ghulam Qadir,a PhD from the reputed Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi who lost his life on November 4, 1998 advocating the cause for Kashmir? Can we afford ignoring Munawarul Haq Shaheen, Dr Haji Shabir, and Ghulam Hassan, who are among the writers who were burnt alive in a brick kiln for contributing to a tabloid named Zarb-e-Kaleem? Jaleel Andrabi is a recent victim of state oppression.
In short, a new discourse on the Kashmir conflict is being developed in which a cult of new posterboys is creating more problems rather than solving any. Condensing the whole discourse to these few “men of enlightenment” and branding them the only “intellectuals” in the town would qualify as grossly exclusivist, and has the potential of alienating a common Kashmiri from his own cause for which he has suffered immeasurably.
Now the question here is why these new writers’ voice possesses more power of penetration than the majority of Kashmiris. The answer seems simple – the social and economic capital they have accumulated over the years essentially empowers them. This new culture of telling stories has made the common man’s demands and aspirations look esoteric.
In order to show how an ordinary Kashmiri has more powerful ideas about his political future, some “ordinary writers” of Kashmir should come forward to scrutinize this new elite Azadi discourse. They should rather show the way by revisiting and documenting the history not only of the people but for the people of Kashmir as well. We should bring back those people to the stage whose contributions are enormous but are nowhere mentioned in the new elite discourse, except in birth and death certificates.
The author is pursuing a PhD at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy at the School of Social Sciences at JNU, New Delhi.Email: fayazjustinternational@gmail.com
- See more at: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/a-getlemens-history-of-kashmir/#sthash.feD9lzZW.dpuf