by Ipsita Shome
The Guardian (UK) quoted Basharat Peer saying this – a rather controversial rationale for not attending the Kashmir Literary Festival:
“It really makes me angry,” Peer said. “The mainstream Indian press has made it sound like the festival is part of bringing civilisation to Kashmir. It’s a fine idea but the framing of the event in the media has been extremely problematic and condescending.”
In reply, the main organizer of the event, Namita Gokhale said, “The idea arose from a wish to emulate some of the stimulating results of other festivals. There was special interest and enthusiasm from several Kashmiri writers after the success and visibility of the Kashmir sessions at the Jaipur literature festival this year … The festival will attempt to provide a literary platform for all shades of opinion.”
While Namita Gokhale’s rebuttal is official and holds its end, here are a few more cursors for Basharat Peer – of the Curfewed Night fame – that can help prevent the usage of limp excuses and enliven false situations –
Kashmir’s civilization is not tainted – its politics is. If there is anything that can help augment reason and sense in the valley, it is awareness. Political, social and fundamental consciousness, brought about by writers such as Peer himself – so that stone pelting does not gain pop culture levity and the youth are wakeful about their electoral preference, options.
As a writer, commentator and a Kashmiri, it is but sound not to muddle the media and the administration of the statehood. It is common knowledge that the media is not an intrinsic authority and at most times is externally fuelled, speculating in more ways than one on critical issues, obscuring them further.
Hence, there can be two possible derivatives of Peer’s analytical abandonment of the Kashmir Lit Fest – 1) He is weak knees at the thought of employing political parlance in one of the most perilous zones of the world 2) His geopolitical inclination is not allowing his conscience to be a part of a process that might just work in favour of peace and stability in the present contour of the valley. Either way, it goes in poor taste for an author and a Kashmiri of his establishment to nudge constructive participation and dig only on the meringue itself.
The much renowned Mirza Waheed, again of Kashmiri origin, was quoted by the Guardian, saying –
“The organisers have said the event will be apolitical. So what would I do if I was there? What would I read? Every page I have written is political”
To which, Gokhale reverted, “There was perhaps some misinterpretation of my use of the word ‘apolitical’…”
To reiterate Namita Gokhale’s point –
How is it a practical notion to surgically eliminate politics from Kashmir and vice versa? From the blink of its genesis – all it has undergone is politicization and fabrication of all sorts. That it holds a wholesome shape today points at nothing but a heavenly miracle. That it has not become the sanctuary of the Taliban Emirate is yet another miracle.
The idea is to dwell in reality, transparency and not fall under the separatist, secessionist and totalitarian weather. To make use of literary resources to demystify the Kashmir mystery – shed light to preconceived decisions – creep lucidity in a state inebriated by confusion. To encourage education, infrastructure, pluralism, multilateralism – a Valley which is inflated with improvement, not gun powder and cannons. Where people can walk freely, where war is history. If one can’t maintain this clause of an ‘apolitical’ median – then no, please do not oblige us with your weighty participation.
A gentle shove is all the lovely Kashmir needs to get it back to its feet. From the cradle of hazard to normalcy, truth and order. Is that too much to ask for? Certainly not. Does fundamentalism and cronyism get a hard hit there? Definitely, yes. Does politics get drowned in the light of effective perspective? Yes. Is it a functional process? Yes. Who wins in the big picture – India/Pakistan/China (in an ambiguous consideration)? None. The answer would be, rightfully, the Kashmiris.
With the answers to the most gullible and predictable of all questions – I leave you, to rest my case. Decide for yourself. After all, decision matters.