Around a couple decades ago, my dad was posted in a city-cum-village; narrow roads, no multiplexes, very little electricity, regulated water supply on a specific time, etc. But we had a lawn, the one and only highlight of that place. Our neighbors had their’s too. Ours was divided in two halves. On the left was an open area with green grass, where we could play cricket although, with a tennis ball (a soft ball and not a hard leather ball). Even though, the right half (right of the main door) looked more beautiful but I never liked it and loved only the left half.
There were different flowers, plants, some veggies next to them, all quite colorful. The thing was, my dad would do all the interesting stuff like sowing, planting, trimming etc. etc. But who was going to do the boring stuff like throwing away the dried leaves or watering the plants or removing dried leaves or stems? Tada! there were two “mature” people in the house, one nine year old and the other six year old who would take care of these functions. Out of which the six year old always remained busy with eating crying sleeping and of course playing. Who was left? Me! the nine year old one.
And that’s not all, watering those plants was not an easy task. In the initial period, the saplings were weak, fragile and the soil was tender. So when I used to water them using a water hose, some times the water from the hose would make a mark as in erode some soil or skew the tiny saplings. After that I would hear things like “You are not suppose to hit them with water, reduce the water pressure, spend some time in watering plants, it is a very important activity, you don’t have to finish it in two minutes, do you have some business to attend to?” and “I told you, this plant needs less water, are you trying to kill the plant by drowning it? This plant needs more water, were you in some hurry?” To me all those little pain in the head plants looked the same, they had same color, how was I supposed to remember, who needed how much water. It is not that I din’t ask, “Bro, do you need more water?” They had their own attitude, wouldn’t reply. What do I do?
But this was not the big problem, a 5-minutes lecture, that too with the similar sentences I mentioned before but paraphrased differently and that’s pretty much it. However, if while playing in the left lawn the ball comes in the right one and hits any of the so-called precious, sophisticated saplings, there would be a longer and upgraded version of the lecture. Since, we had damaged a lot of plants already, we ended up getting an ultimatum: “If we break any more saplings, no game for the next day and no TV hour on Sunday.” We were allowed only one hour of TV every week and we would never want to do anything to miss that one hour.
We did it again, the ball went several times in that part of the lawn and did what it does best, tear some leaves and break some saplings. Rest we did, in order to fetch the ball, we made a bigger mess, walked where we should not.
After we were done playing, we realized that we were in trouble. We were thinking of ways to save ourselves. We came up with a brilliant plan. The plan was: “We move the fence slightly, so as to create a small opening, which would be just enough for the pig to come inside. He comes in, treads all over the place and when he walks over the place which we had damaged, we rush him out.” Easy Peasy, problem solved.
We let the pig in, we watched him walk over the damaged area overwriting our marks by his own. But our smirks didn’t last long, the clever plan turned into a pig shit in no time. Something that looked easy-peasy was not at all easy, the pig came from the slight opening in the fence, but would not go back. It was way more difficult to get him out. In addition to simply walking, he had started digging the ground and making loud grunting sound. We kept on doing shi-shi-hurr-hurr and banging the stick on the ground. But that wasn’t of any use. In fact the pig looked at us and as soon as he did, while making that grunting sound, the six year old started crying, and crying louder than the grunting sound made by the pig.
In next two minutes everybody was out there, mom came from the inside, the neighbors came and finally dad came too.
Somehow, everybody pushed the pig out of the lawn. The important takeaway was that even though the plan did not work as we had wanted, but we did achieve the goal of not being held responsible for breaking the saplings with a ball. Everybody blamed the pig. Did the pig do anything wrong? He behaved in accordance to his nature. Didn’t he? The only problem was that he was at a place where he shouldn’t be.
Coming back to the present. When I look at the history now, I realize I was not the only “mature” person, who let the pigs in. In the ’80s and the ’90s some mature people also let the pigs in (metaphorically). They not only allowed the militants become the mainstream, but also awarded them with fancy titles and designations along with allowing some a place in regional security forces and some in regional politics. The militants who were responsible for exodus of a complete community from the region were awarded by giving them a place in “Special Operations Group” and accepting them as leaders, “the separatist leaders”. They have been behaving exactly in accordance to their nature; they were suppose to destroy the garden. The situation in Kashmir deteriorated only because militants were at the places where they shouldn’t be. Who let them in?
A nine year old, made a selfish and a destructive decision to avoid a few flying ‘chappals’ (slippers) and avoid forfeiting his one hour TV time, but what forced the government in Kashmir and the then government at the center to take these poor steps?
These separatist leaders display their problem solving skills by first creating problems and then appear to be solving them. Or at least making sure that they appear to be the only choice people have, if the problem has to be solved. Moreover, why were they entertained at all and not nipped in the bud in the first place? Did the then government ignore the fact that Kashmir is an integral part of India and there is no question of a separate entity? Didn’t the government by letting these separatist leaders flourish, create a window of doubt about that?
The previous government did not have the intent to fix the issue. They along with their friends were being benefited by the issue. They were feeding on this issue. In fact don’t you think a tiny state like J&K with as many as 30 different political religious parties smells of something fishy? Moreover, what is The Difa-e-Pakistan Council doing in All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an alliance of 26 political, social and religious organizations formed on March 9, 1993, as a united political front to raise the cause of Kashmiri separatism?
What will the separatist leaders and the Huriyat leaders do if the Kashmir problem is solved? I think, they would be unemployed. Will they or for that matter any one else would want to kick their only source of bread and butter away? No, which is why the problem is Kashmir would not solve until there are separatist leaders. They exist as long as the problem exists.
I, gladly and from the bottom of my heart welcome the current government’s actions of cracking a whip on some of the separatist leaders and their parties. They are put behind bars, which is where they actually belong. But this is not all, it is just a start. The government now need to get rid of the weeds (unwanted plants) from the garden.
By the way the garden story is not yet finished. Have a look at the second part “Weeding the Lawn”
Thanks for your time!