‘Politics of Humiliation’
Javid Ahmad Ahanger/Muzamil Yaqoob
After 9/11 most Americans asked the question, “Why do they hate us so much?” It was obvious that Americans were referring to Muslims. The answer to this question was framed by west in terms of “clashes” that were backed by the constructed notion of emotions [particularly humiliation]. It was in such context Islamic scholars and Muslims all over the globe believed that the West (Especially USA) has humiliated and oppressed Muslims all across the globe.
In 2003, Tom Friedman, a New York Times columnist noted a speech on this theme by Mahathir Mohamad, then Prime Minister of Malaysia, and argued that the “single most under-appreciated force in international relations is humiliation”. Friedman suggested that a sense of humiliation was driving both the Palestinian revolt against Israel and the armed rebellion against the American occupation of Iraq. The humiliation theory and the role of emotions on an international scale have become more recognized in twenty first century and opened new ways of thinking about conflicts across the globe. The “Humiliation debate” has been receiving its befitting position since recent past in the domestic and international political discourses. Once considered a social scum, humiliation is now being addressed and debated in the international forums and conferences from different shades. Scholars have now started to talk of the ‘Political Humiliation’ in the West Asian, and other conflict-prone societies, which have been witnessing humiliation since last many decades at the hands of intruders. Some laudable efforts have also been taken by Indian scholars who invented the tradition of debating humiliation of the powerless, unprivileged and those located in the lower rungs of society. However, there has been the dearth of efforts to understand and debate the political sphere of humiliation, which is often being credited to the policies and programs of the state and its coercive agencies, which they carry out in the conflict-prone or “disturbed” regions. The case of ‘Indian controlled Kashmir’ would be of special consideration here, where many types, as well as features and dynamics of political humiliation are at work to suppress the popular demand for the right of self-determination. The Indian state in Kashmir is driven by emotions and lust for power and the opposite side of this notion of power are powerlessness and humiliation of Kashmiris by Indian state.
The past acts of humiliation in Kashmir, as well as growing new trends, have been a foremost cause for the aspiration of separatism among the populace since 1989 in particular. These humiliating trends led to the mounting insurgency, which then emerged against the undemocratic state government as well as Indian control of Kashmir. Indian state responded to the secessionist tendencies with ‘military might’ and ‘iron hand’ and constantly denied the Kashmiris their “rightful demand of self-determination”. Kashmiri society since then, although bereft of many societal inequalities, had been witnessing humiliation from the political agencies of the state. Under this, many attempts were made to crush the popular sentiments by inflicting humiliation on the whole community based on their identity and other values they cherish. Though, these worked contrary and fostered the secessionist tendencies in the region more strongly since past three decades. The tactics of political humiliation are many. History bears witness to the fact of sexual violence during the war times between imperial powers. The harrowing accounts of torture and killings are few worst examples. With the demise of war tradition nurtured by imperial rivalries, this legacy was then taken by Nation-States, often self-proclaiming democracies, to suppress the popular sentiments in the disputed regions. The North Eastern part of India and the popular “Red Corridor”, the Sikh region of Punjab had been witnessing one after another all the dexterous efforts of humiliation since last 70 years.
Kashmir too has been witnessing the use of these inhuman and humiliating tactics, where attempts were made to humiliate the entire community. In the first decade of the armed uprising, the incidents of mass rapes were part of this nefarious design of humiliation. There are countless incidents of mass rapes both documented and undocumented where the government forces were the obvious perpetrators. The same period saw the development of torture centers like Hari Nivas, PAPA II, Cargo, Kawoosa House, Red 16, Badami Bagh Cantonment and countless others where armed rebels and civilian suspects were brutally tortured and humiliated in every sense to send the ripples of fear and humiliation to the entire community. The tortures had clearly the identity considerations attached to them. The fact is quite evident from the last half a decade that the humiliation by government and the armed forces is directly as well as indirectly contributing to the cause of Kashmiri uprisings. Another humiliating trend has been the use of innocent civilians as human shields by the government forces in anti-militancy operations which has now found its condemnable place in the intellectual discourses. People under these circumstances are exposed to greater risks and humiliations if by any chance the armed forces find them not properly obliging to their authoritarian dictates. This war crime of humiliation has been in use for decades now. In the conflict areas like Kashmir the power-laden military forces often use violence to reinforce dominance for the suppression of popular claims of discordances by inflicting humiliation on the whole community, which often leads to the victimization and marginalization of the innocent individuals from the social spheres and political structures of representation. The recent humiliating trend has been the planned move of “Braid Chopping” which caused a great hue and cry in the whole valley.
Thus, we can conclude that loss of identity and the constant neglect of popular aspirations had destroyed the hope for dignity which has contributed to the ongoing trend of humiliation. The sense of internal colonization, the flagrant human rights violations and the neglect of popular demands have also contributed to the growing sense of humiliation and the identity assertion by the people of Kashmir. It is this humiliation that has led to the end of state narrative in Jammu and Kashmir. In fact one can put it like, once paradise is now turned into the valley of humiliation. (Author can be mailed at Ahanger.firstname.lastname@example.org).