Delivering Kehwa from Delhi

Basharat Ali

The leading lady of Indian media gave her verdict last night – ‘There is not going to be any plebiscite in Kashmir’. Acting more like a spokesperson of Indian State and less of a journalist, Barkha Dutt declared before a handpicked audience of youngsters flocked inside a hotel in Srinagar that Syed Ali Geelani should contest elections, like Sajad Lone.  There are important issues that we need to look at with a clear head.

At the outset, some well-meaning people in Srinagar have allowed our public space to be vitiated by the likes of Barkha Dutt for their careerist objectives and material pursuits. These men ranging from journalists to businessmen and some ‘respected’ columnists have provided Indian media enough latitude to reflect the “majoritarian” view in Kashmir. Barkha, by comparing Kehwa stop to Chai stop, made the intention of these people clear, who had earlier disguised as some research group.

With fancy and catchy names, scores of research based NGOs, have cropped up in the lanes and by lanes of Srinagar in last few years, but their activities are mostly restricted to Facebook. Instead of getting involved in research, these organisations prefer PR and a healthy liaison with journalists. Their mantra is simple; get a story done and seek funding. 

Creating separate spaces for dialogue and discussion is a welcome gesture, but to what end? If debates in these spaces reflect dominant Indian narrative on Kashmir, then please wind up these shops!

More than anything, the on-going elections in Kashmir are being shown as culmination of Kashmir’s resistance movement and these coffee shop analysts seem to have bought the thesis without any question or criticism. They too want a change now! Wear a pheran, put on an Afghani cap, sport a moustache and be Junaid Matto. Please go! Also click a photograph with Barkha or Rajdeep Sardesai and get instant likes on Facebook.

It is this demeaning attitude and an urge to shine some light on our obscurity that brings the “international courts of justice” by people like Barkha and Rajdeep to Kashmir. 

On NDTV, the headline read; ‘Uri Hits back at Terror with 83% turnout, Tral stays cautious at 38%’, as if the Uri attack was on people, not the Army, thus the huge voter turnout, and hence, by logical deduction, people in Uri are brave hearts and those of Tral are cowards, since they voted in lesser numbers.

Barkha starts her court with these lines: “Shift to Jammu and Kashmir where the State is maintaining a healthy turnout”. Thank you! The turnout is indeed maintained. The language that the Indian media uses is replicated by these youngsters who are called to participate in these pompous shows. The jury stays on the margins, enjoy perks in the power corridors of Delhi and later issue sermons about the futility of our political resistance, thereby implicitly legitimizing the illegal occupation of Kashmir by India. 

It is time that sense prevails in Kashmir. The times are challenging and the opportunists among us will side with the machinations of India and would like to send the resistance movement to gallows. It is time to stay calm, and yes, safe too, because he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.


Basharat Ali

Author – a student of Conflict Analysis and Peace Building at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, can reached at darbasharat@gmail.com

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the website.