‘Azadi’ and the Common Kashmiri

Skinder Lone
September 9, 2016 OPINION 480 Views
‘Azadi’ and the Common Kashmiri

The decision of ‘Unified’ Hurriyat to yet once again extend the duration of the ongoing two month long illustrates two things. One is that besides issuing protest calendars the Hurriyat ‘think tank’ doesn’t have any other strategy up its sleeve; the second is that the separatists don’t seem to be the least concerned about the problems which the common man faces due to prolonged shutdowns. Truck and taxi drivers, casual workers and labourers whose households run on the daily wages that they earn are the worst effected but no one cares to highlight their plight!
If something new was planned to be done during the extended period of the protests then prolonging its duration was understandable. But the schedule of activities issued by the Hurriyat is a ‘cut-paste’ job of things that have already been done- ‘azadi’ marches, ‘pro-freedom’ activities and even a repeat march to the UN office in Srinagar on Eid-ul-Azha. If the intended message that these activities were supposed to convey to the international community and New Delhi has already gone across then where is the need to prolong the hartal programme? If this hasn’t happened then obviously there is something wrong with the approach that the Hurriyat has taken. If this is the case then wouldn’t it be better for the ‘Unified’ Hurriyat to introspect and rectify the shortcomings rather than prolong the protests?
Going by what has happened thus far the results of these activities can easily be predicted. The law enforcement agencies (LEA) will attempt to stop protesters and there will be clashes and stone pelting. The situation will soon get out of control and the protesters will pelt stones and the LEA will fire tear gas and pellet guns causing civilian casualties. This will once again enrage the public and frenzied mobs will attempt torching some government building or damaging public property and invite retaliation from the LEA and suffer yet more casualties. In this way the cycle of violence and casualties will continue. With 75 civilian deaths and thousands injured out of which over a hundred people are wholly or partially blinded.
The Hurriyat may feel that they have been gracious by allowing shops to open after 6 PM so that people can buy their daily needs. But what about those daily wagers who are forced to sit idle all day due to the hartal and hence have no money to buy provisions? Who will hire a carpenter late in the evening? Then there are cases of truck and taxi drivers who have taken loans to purchase their vehicles and are facing a ‘double hit’ as they have no income to either feed their families or to pay loan installments. There are students who haven’t gone to school for two months and there are people who have to wait all day in order to take their seriously ill family members to hospital.
What does a daily wager tell his children when they ask him for the new clothes that he had promised them on Eid? If he tells them that they must sacrifice their ‘Eidi’ this time for the sake of ‘azadi’ will the children understand? Why should those writhing in unbearable pain or running dangerously high fever which requires immediate medical attention have to suffer till 6 PM and only then be taken to a hospital? While those well-provided for may hold that ‘azadi’ is all that matters and everyone has to make sacrifices for its attainment, try telling that to a father or mother who can’t look into the eyes of their starving children and I assure you that they will not be amused!
The All Party Delegation (APD) visit gave the ‘Unified’ Hurriyat an excellent opportunity to call off the protests without losing face. Infact by doing so it would have proved to the world that lives of their Kashmiri brothers meant everything to them. Had it done so then it would have also quashed allegations that the ‘United’ Hurriyat was merely riding on public sentiments aroused by the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani and extending protests just for the sake of it. It is still not too late and the Hurriyat can still make amends.

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