Of all subjects of importance, the most written and talked about (of course after Dal Lake and dog menace) is hartal. Whatever happens or doesn’t happen invites a single and singular response from our leadership. Shutdown. Hartals have become like punctuation marks in the text of our daily life. You don’t miss a mark for too long. No line can go without a full stop in the end the same way as no week can go without a hartal. A shutdown either begins or ends our week. It links our today with tomorrow and the chain must not break. The longest we can go hartal-less is a fortnight and then we feel a drought which ends with a call. Not just our moon, our calendar too has blood clots.
Well, protest is an inseparable part of any resistance movement. But this is not the only way to register our protest. Protests are spontaneous and sudden, not arranged and asked for. We have made hartal a one-answer-fits-all solution which it can’t be? `If we don’t call for a shutdown, should we shut up’? We often face this question form our leadership camp. They seek alternatives and they are right in asking so. But making hartal a music that runs our life has silenced our life itself. Hartal is a list too long to bear. If we can’t abolish it, we can at least edit it. Let it remain as a weapon which it has ceased to be.
How powerful your method of protest, take it beyond a point, it becomes pointless. That’s the story with us. The hartal bite stands long blunted and it impacts no one other than the protestor himself. It’s like hungry going for a hunger strike. Who cares!
The recent arrest of Hurriyat members is a great source of worry for leaders and for people as well.
Whatever the nature of the investigation, but the way a section of Indian media is busy scandalizing the whole Kashmir movement is atrocious though expected. In such matters we are often deluded by a unilateral version of the story. Before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) concludes about the individuals they are enquiring about, the media channels have already pronounced their verdict.
Wonder what the agency is investigating if the findings are foregone with the media. That no doubt is a sad part of the story but our leaders can defend themselves without closing down the valley. Pushing nation to hibernation won’t prove my point.
It won’t be an answer to the crackdown launched on the resistance leadership. You can’t hold Kashmir a hostage as you have been held hostage by New Delhi. That way you are doing the double damage.
Besides effecting the daily life, there is one ghastly dimension associated with hartal. One way or the other it creates an atmosphere of unrest. An unrest that leads to violence and violence that results in loss of life. Who kills whom and who is responsible is a studio debate, but the upshot is that we die. Hartal may or not mean anything, but life means everything.