WHAT AFTER HARTALS
Though Hartals can work as a short-term method of protest, shutting down the Valley for too long is bound to prove counterproductive. There is a need to think beyond the strategy of Hartals to invest the energy in innovative ways to keep the momentum intact
|| SHEIKH UMAR AHMAD
With Kashmir gradually itching towards “normalcy” after months of Hartal a debate is going on among many circles on whether the separatists should find an alternative to Hartal as a tool of resistance. “If you have an alternative, suggest us one. We will adopt that” is the response that the resistance camp has often come up with to the question about the need for change in the Hartal strategy. For quite some time now while this demand for change in the strategy is being talked about more openly, so far no alternative has come to fore for carrying forward the resistance struggle forward. Kashmir witnessed the longest ever period of strike without any break following the killing of Hizb Commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani by security forces in July this year. The five month long protests reminded New Delhi that Kashmir was an unfinished agenda of partition and needs to be resolved keeping in view aspirations of people.
Last month, while announcing a five-day break in Hartal the separatists hailed the uprising as a “historic and moral victory” for people of Kashmir against Indian, reiterating that the resilience shown by people of Kashmir has “defeated” New Delhi and brought Kashmir back into the notice of the world community. With the intensity of the protests going down and the separatists limiting protest program, time was right to think beyond the strategy of Hartal to redesign and invest the energy in innovative and concerted efforts to keep the momentum intact. Many expert opinions coming from different quarters of society and intellectual class are opining the resistance leaders to break the status quo of Hartal and find an alternate mode to assert the demand for right to self-determination. No doubt there is dire need for introducing some alternative forms of protest not only at times of innocent killings and frequent detention of youth and separatists but a calendar, moderately framed and intelligently put together need to be framed in which Hartal is not seen as the only tool to achieve conclusive results.
If we don’t allow our children to go to schools where from the human resource development will happen for creating a pool of intellectuals. Long periods of Hartal can prove self inflicting pain that kills both socially as well as economically
Though Hartal can work as a short-term method of protest but shutting down Kashmir and business for too long is bound to prove counterproductive. It is an open secret that the majority of people in Kashmir share the ideology of resistance leadership which has now gained roots after the killing of Burhan. During the past five months people religiously followed the weekly protest calendars punctually and planned their programs as per these calendars. But fatigue is a natural phenomenon and Kashmiris are not immune to it. Sensing this, separatist, who were spearheading the uprising asked for suggestions from people across the society for taking the struggle ahead by holding meetings with different sections of civil society. Hartal, protests, or any form of resistance is seen as a means to achieve the end goal. People in Kashmir need a mission statement, a clear demarcation of short term and long term objectives to achieve the goals. If we don’t allow our children to go to the schools where from the human resource development will happen for creating a pool of intellectuals.
Many expert opinions coming from different quarters of society and intellectual class are opining the resistance leaders to break the status quo of Hartal and find an alternate mode to assert the demand for right to self-determination
It is a self inflicting pain that kills us both socially as well as economically. For any tactic to prove successful, there are so many other things which should also be in complete sync to create a necessary atmosphere for it. In case of Kashmir, it is now presumed that the shutdowns and strikes haven’t worked in the past and in the future too, there is no indication of the measure yielding any meaningful achievement. The sheer frequency and redundancy with which the tactic was used or rather overused has also played spoilsport in rendering the ineffective. Having shrunk their politico-tactical arsenal to shutdowns and strikes only, not only have the political maneuvers of the separatists become predictable for the adversary but it has also lost relevance and meaning within their followers. They might be sincerity in what the separatists claim to stand for but they need to know how to go ahead to achieve the goal. Calling for street protests, Chalo and shutdowns are the only weapons they have been living with. It goes without saying that street protests and general shutdowns are effective weapons to express anger and political dissent but, as overuse of anything makes it extraneous, the Hartal politics has become not only irrelevant but also wearisome for the common masses.
With the intensity of protests going down & separatists limiting protest program, time was right to think beyond the strategy of Hartal to redesign and invest the energy in innovative and concerted efforts to keep the momentum intact.
People have got fed up with this monotonous way of protest though nobody can deny that Kashmir has been a victim of grave human rights violations over the years. An alternative strategy needs to be evolved to protest and counter the human rights violations on one hand and to seek political rights on the other hand. If we can provide conducive atmosphere to our students for studies, they can bring effective change at the grassroots level. They would thrive at higher levels where they can project the plight of Kashmiris at bigger forums. This is the age of Internet and modern means of communication can be used to register protests to bring the immediate attention of world peace keepers. We can alert the governing body of world human rights violation through our coordinated and concerted efforts in the form of writings and opinions highlighting rights abuses to seek their intervention strategically so as to create atmosphere for international intervention for conflict resolution. Moreover, we can encourage our writers, artists, painters, philosophers, lawyers, rights group and others to put extra effort for highlighting the Kashmir problem at international forums through their artistic, intellectual and philosophical expressions so to seek consensus at world level for Kashmir resolution.
Sheikh umar Ahmad (Gold Medalist), Research Fellow – Skin Biology Lab,PK – PD & Toxicology Division,Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR),Canal Road Jammu, (J&K),09906778863.