The Kashmiri population has responded to India’s action with mass civil disobedience. With all their leadership locked up across the spectrum, with no means of communicating with one another, they appear to be acting in concert to show resistance. Should we be worried or concerned about them or about what we are doing to them and what is going on?
Actually, few of us know what’s going on there because local TV channels in Kashmir have never been permitted by Delhi. On Friday, the state government published an advertisement in a newspaper that was revealing. Commenting on it, a tweet from Mehbooba Mufti’s account said: “Notice the pleading tone of state admin in a front page ad for Greater Kashmir. Despite the brutal lockdown since 5th August, Kashmiris have been resolute about a civil curfew as a mark of protest. If the authorities truly cared for people, they’d lift the telecom ban.”
The advertisement seems to suggest that ‘normalcy’ (a word we have been hearing about Kashmir for 30 years now) was the responsibility of the population. It was unsigned but ended with the line “Government of Jammu & Kashmir.” The administration doesn’t give the background for why it published this. It assumes that readers know what is going on.
I didn’t realise this till seeing this advertisement that we are being fed a totally different narrative than what is present on the ground. To examine this aspect and for clarity from the state, I thought it appropriate to reproduce the text of the advertisement in full below. In brackets are the queries that I have that arise from its assertions. Here goes:
“CLOSED SHOPS (why are they closed?)
NO PUBLIC TRANSPORT? (why isn’t the government running public transport?)
WHO BENEFITS? (who?)
Are we going to succumb to militants? (how can anyone succumb? There are 300 active militants, J&K police chief Dilbag Singh says. Against them are 4.5 lakh armed forces — army, paramilitary and J&K police.)
THINK!!! (okay, let’s do that)
For over 70 years now, the people of J&K have been misled (how? By whom?). They have been victims of a vicious campaign and motivated propaganda (have they been watching India’s news channels?) that has kept them trapped in an endless cycle of terrorism, violence, destruction and poverty (but doesn’t Kashmir have a better Human Development Index ranking than Assam, Arunachal, Andhra, Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, MP, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tripura and UP?)
While separatists (who specifically?) send their children to exotic lands (should they remain in Srinagar?) to study, work and earn (what is wrong with going abroad to study, work and earn?), they instigated the common people to push their children into violence, stone-pelting and hartals (does common people mean the entire population?). They used threats of terrorists, coercion and misinformation to beguile the people (all the people?). Today militants (are they the same as terrorists?) are using the same tactic of threats and coercion (how?). Are we going to tolerate this? (Who is “we”? The ruler of Kashmir is from UP. He reports to a Gujarati, who reports to another Gujarati)
WE ARE AT THE CROSSROADS TODAY (who is “WE”?)
Do we permit the age-old tactic of threats and coercion to influence us? (Whose threats? Whose coercion? Influencing whom?)
Will threat and misinformation prevail or will we take informed decisions on what is best for us? (how can informed decisions be taken without information and communication?)
Will we let a few posters (posters saying what?) and threats push us:
Into not resuming our businesses (Which businesses? There’s no Uber/Ola/Flipkart/Amazon/Zomato because there’s no internet economy.)
Into not earning our legitimate livelihood (Could it be because of constant curfew?)
Into not securing a rightful education and secure future for our children (Many in jail under illegal detention)
Into not letting development bloom for our Kashmir (Seems to be blooming fine. See HDI index)
This is our home (Whose?)
It is for us to think of its well-being and prosperity (Define “well-being”)
Government of Jammu & Kashmir” (Is this a sign-off or is this line linked to the one above?)
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.