It’s a tough time. It’s a tough time for India indeed, when 44 of our brave-hearts have been murdered in cold blood by an ideology that rejoices in anarchy and bloodshed. The entirety of India’s political plethora stands united by a gory attack, and so does the global community- marred by a few tardy latecomers- but still, united. Our closest neighbor refuses to feel the heat, but we’re quite used to it by now; we don’t expect the offender to offer condolences.
Parties have, for good, been forbidden to politicize the issue, but there is one kind of politics that refuses to be restrained. It is the very idea that germinated, sponsored, formulated and perpetrated this ghastly crime. Separatism refuses to die down in this moment of crisis, and is more so emboldened by our bereavement. And when I call it out, I do so, treating it not as a visible physical structure, but as an ideational demon, that seeps into the intelligentsia, whispers from among united crowds, and subtly serves to undermine India as a structural entity. It is not the malevolence of Pakistan which is as dangerous as the hostility of a segment, which proudly calls itself Kashmiri, but doesn’t deign to be called Indian. It is this ill-informed rancor which is creating pseudo-nationalities within an integrated, lawfully and ethically constructed India. And it would be highly fallacious to think that this idea comes from across the border; it is already here, brewing surreptitiously day and night within our physically defended enclosures.
One might wonder what led me into this quagmire of observations. Well, it is obvious that the entire world is currently resorting to the media for accurate reports of the attack. Here, the media becomes our spokesperson to the world, and shoulders the gigantic responsibility of doing so correctly. But when ideological warfare percolates into the 4th pillar of democracy, we’re indeed in danger. On the 15th of February, I happened to come across an article by the Reuters, which on first reading seemed to me an article written by the Pakistani media, giving their general take on the attacks. The usual -mentioning the area as “Indian- occupied Kashmir” and giving us a view into the innocent rage of a harassed Kashmiri youth who avenged himself- I expected no better from a Pakistani journalist.
However, by the end of the article, as I read the names of the reporter and the author, I was slightly jolted into the reality of it (slightly, because it wasn’t altogether unexpected). The names clicked and I googled it to confirm, that the writer was Alasdair Pal, a Delhi based journalist, and the reporter was Srinagar based Fayaz Bukhari. A ‘technically’ Indian journalist, giving us a peek into the perspective of the terrorist without once calling him that, telling us how his rancor was a product of harassment by the CRPF, is quite obviously trying to tell another story which completely strays from the truth.
There are a few things one might like to point out to them. Firstly, calling Jammu and Kashmir “Indian-occupied Kashmir” is not going to help juggle Kashmir to Pakistan. It was legally made a part of India through an Instrument of Accession, and not through forcible occupation like what Pakistan did. Secondly, if you think you can get away by putting your own perspective within inverted quotes, you’re terribly mistaken. Third, getting beaten up for stone pelting isn’t harassment, but being pelted with stones while doing your duty is. Fourth, the entirety of Indian political representatives is out giving statements, and you couldn’t find one ‘available for comment’? Fifth, your style of expression is clearly evident of your sympathies. When the entire world is offering condolences for this tragedy, you could at least pretend to be supportive, or at least wait till the dust had settled.
Having to deal with enemies across the border is a tough job, but to deal with those hidden in your own rank and file is the toughest job indeed. The Roman poet Cicero had put it very beautifully, and I’d end with his words, lest I be accused of being a jingoistic fanatic nationalist-
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”