“When people cannot adequately speak or write their language, there arise strong men to speak it for them – and at them.” When linguist Wendell Johnson said this, he was referring to the importance of learning one’s native language or mother-tongue. However, if this saying is seen through political lenses, it very may also explain how important it is for the people to speak for themselves, for what is rightfully theirs and in opposition to what they feel is wrong.
Taking a cue from Johnson again, it can be said that in the wake of peoples’ inability to speak for themselves, their rights, “there arise strong men who then speak it for them – and at them.” This is exactly what has happened in Kashmir. With every Tom, Dick and Harry in the political echelons claiming to be representing the people and their sentiments, and their sacrifices -- it has become their standard line to claim that “they are speaking for the people”. And going by their argument, they not only claim speaking for the people but according to them they do whatever they do “for the people – for their good!”
Now the question is: is it really true that these leaders and politicians are peoples’ representatives? Do they really enjoy public support they claim they are backed up by? And how true is it that whatever these people say and do is for the people’s good?
In this God-forsaken land of unaccountability, what has actually encouraged and patronized the culture of this unaccountability here is the public silence. Like elsewhere, people of Kashmir too are confronted with a multitude of problems of all kinds. However, unlike elsewhere in the world, people here have perfected the art of ‘silent suffering’. As if their unremitting endurance and unfaltering patience was a great trait to be worn as a badge over their foreheads, people here have developed an uncomfortably submissive behavior so much so that they never question why they are being meted the treatment they get at the hands of the government and its agencies. In fact, why blame the government only when fact of the matter is that everyone here is as if sitting on the throat of everyone else, just waiting for appropriate time to cheat and torment the other …?
Very insulting it may seem but let’s confess that we have needlessly grown sacred cows among us – in the arena of both politics and organized religion. Now we take their words as gospel truth and supporting rationale for everything. The obvious fallout has been that the crooks and thugs have come to dominate each and every sphere of human activity. Our shopkeepers and other business people cheat gullible public openly, giving and taking bribe has become an accepted norm in government; even the pulpits of mosques are misused by the people to advance their petty interests, not to speak of other important public platforms also having become the tools for propagating brazen lies. Here leaders trade in their fellow peoples’ blood and never ever think before trading their loyalties or shifting their ideological iconographies!
Making matters worse is the fact that instead of acknowledging all the vices within, we are desirous of ‘change’— without actually bothering to spell out what that change would be like. They say a sacred human being gives birth to a sacred cow. It needs to be understood that the genesis and survival of sacred cows is rooted in fear and reverence. Therefore, those who want change will have to be ready to go against these sacred cows. They have not only to be irreverent innately, but outwardly and purposefully also irreverent in their actions. They will have to be ready to question all those who have, despite having ridden the waves of public anger and support, failed to deliver for the public good. It is time for all those who want the situation here to change for good to think of and devise ways and means of becoming iconoclastic bulldozers. And mind it there are so many myths and mythical characters in Kashmir’s social and political field fit to be demolished. Remember for achieving this goal one need not to resort to violent tactics – it can, and it should be done without physical abuse.