Thursday, July 19, 2018 | 6:03 PM

The real heroes: Their role can never be forgotten

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ZG Muhammad 
In our case, it is the people who have been protagonists of the resistance movement - the real heroes. It is they who have perpetuated the resistance narrative. It is they who have defeated machinations of the ‘hegemonic powers’ conjuring alternative narratives for subverting the peoples’ movements for their rights.  In stating this, I don’t intend to demean the ideologues who at different junctures of our history through their inputs have strengthened the peoples, discourse and endeavoured to defeat the ‘dominant discourses.' I don’t mean to delegitimize the incarcerations suffered or the sacrifices made by different leaders at various points of time in our nine decades old organized resistance movement- that started in 1924. Nevertheless, what has made me believe that the real protagonists of the resistance movement have been people of the state is that despite leadership at various junctures of history succumbing to the pressures of the ‘dominant forces’ or getting sucked into greed for power they sustained their political struggle. History of the resistance movement in the state has lived up to to a famous quote, “the cemeteries are full of men this world could not get along without and note the fact that things move along after each funeral procession at about the same gait they went before.”

To dwell upon the point that it has been the people, not an individual or an organization that has been in quintessence the protagonist of the resistance movement in the state, I will confine my take to the developments that took place in quick succession after 14 August 1947. 

The overwhelming majority in the state, remembers as a class one primer, how the peoples’ narrative was drowned in the cacophony of an alternative narrative scripted by the Indian National Congress and played upon after 29 September 1947, almost a month before the Afridis appeared in Poonch and Muzzafarbad.  That the alternative narrative bolstered by a progressive economic narrative that included radical land reforms and the top leaders falling in line at the beginning had a broad sway is a reality. Nonetheless, it is equally a harsh reality that the alternative narrative conjured by the Congress leadership and its Communist's ideologues failed to kill the vox populi that in popular parlance is called as the “sentiment.” To keep the alternative narrative and hegemonic discourse afloat the then powers that be despite progressive economic agenda had adopted terrifyingly brute arm-twisting policy and hooliganism – more than ten thousand people imprisoned. But the undercurrents of the peoples narrative despite intimidation and terror gathering strength were sensed even in New Delhi- as Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz writes that it strengthened belief in people in the Indian capital that given an opportunity people will not vote for an accession to India. To dispel New Delhi’s fears, the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir had toured various parts of India. But the inherent strength of the ‘peoples narrative’ had such galloping impact that within a year New Delhi questioned his loyalty and popularity- deposed and arrested him and only a few of his loyal colleague stood by his side.  

To drain out the inherent strength of the resistance movement that despite oppression survived, New Delhi changed its tack in the state and introduced carrot and stick policy. Notwithstanding concessions and chastisement, in 1955 when the Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front was born, and it welded itself to the peoples narrative- it not only attracted massive public support but also emerged as a bastion of the resistance movement. Its main strengths were the people and its committed cadres- overwhelmingly the have-nots. It cannot be denied, New Delhi, through its three fold tactics, one,  seeding doubts, two, coercion and three, money power had succeeded in creating cracks and defections in the organization more than once. Nevertheless, for the commitment of its cadres to their cause and peoples support it did not crumble but for the shortsightedness of its top leaders- who chose to abandon the struggle to walk into the corridors of power. 

It cannot be denied, by tactfully reversing their roles the power centers having mastered the art of reducing organizations and leaders as political vestiges. In the late sixties and early seventies according to the state phraseology,   the Plebiscite Front was a “secessionist” party, and Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg were “separatist” leaders- the Front had boycotted 1957, 1962, 1967 and 1972 Assembly election. So was is correct about the Political Conference, its leadership, and cadres. For their participation in elections held under the Constitution of the State and India that recognizes the State as an integral part of India the National Conference, the Democratic National Conference, the Congress and the Jamat-i-Islami could be called as the “mainstream” political parties. The process of winning over the resistance organization and bringing them to electoral politics did not end up with the Jammat-e-Islami. After 1990, the Jamat reinvented its role.  In 1977, the whole lot of resistance organizations and leaders jumped on the Janata Party bandwagon and participated in 1977 elections thus lost their political moorings. Many of them, with a track record of trials, tribulations and years of incarceration after getting sucked into the ‘dominant discourse’ overnight became political nonentities and were pushed into political oblivion. In common man’s parlance, almost all other lost their address. 

For the inherent strength of the resistance movement and commitment of the people - including the silent majority the burial of the Plebiscite Front, the seduction of middle wrung leadership to the electoral politics or the lure of towering leadership for power the peoples narrative or the cherished political sentiment did not die. Instead, it reinvented itself with more strength- 1955, 1965, 1990 are some of the classical examples.    

Ostensibly, it always seems that the resistance movement in the state has been personality oriented or organization driven- in today's world, electronic media plays a significant role in perpetuating this notion. Nonetheless,  history has vehemently blunted such assertions in the past- that even if a leader with a halo of cult figure submits; for whatever reason, the cult figure dies a political death and the people's movements survive and strikes with great vigor. 

To quote a bete noire, ‘Instead of alluring or coercing organizations or leaders, the long standing dispute needs to resolved with an open mind.’ 

Source: Greater Kashmir