dadyal, Dadyal Online
Published On: Tue, Sep 4th, 2012

Gandhari of Mahabarat

One who denies that there is indeed a deep-rooted, indelible undercurrent of anti-India and pro Azadi (pro-freedom) sentiments in Kashmir is closing his eyes deliberately’

Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani
I am borrowing today’s title for my column from the book “India’s Internal Security: The Actual Concerns” jointly authored by Dr N C Asthana a very senior IPS officer and his wife Dr Anjali Nirmal a political scientist just published. Dr N C Asthana is a specialist in counterinsurgency operations both in combat and in intelligence and has served in Kashmir.

It may not only be the State of India but our leaders also in their respective spheres of responsibility, that seem to have closed their eyes to reality like Gandhari of Mahabarat who had blindfolded herself. Gandhari made a conscious and voluntary decision to blindfold herself to share the pain of her husband who was born blind. Indian State or the Kashmiri leadership do not have any such exalted reason in the interests of common man to turn Gandhari of Mahabarat in addressing the principal and other grievances in Kashmir.
Examining the question of ‘internal security’ author has three variables in his mind, namely, “the Kashmiri who shouts at the top of his voice that he wants independence from India and shoots at you; the Naxal who wants mining to be stopped in jungles and shoots at you; the Naga who wants independence from India and shoots at you; or the Muslim young man who wants to take revenge for some real or imaginary persecution and explodes bomb in the market”. Asthana addresses the Indian audience (including the State apparatus) and points out, “You must understand and decide for yourself as to who really is a more serious threat to internal security” and “Unless you decide that, you would be wasting your efforts”.
As a specialist in counterinsurgency operations both in combat and in intelligence (with firsthand knowledge of Kashmir situation) he advises the State, “Spending thousands of crores of rupees is not the solution of the problem. Gadgets and more gadgets to the security forces will not solve human problems – there are no technological solutions to socio-political problems. If ever problem could be solved by building more roads, installing more street lights, providing more Internet kiosks, or giving rice at a low rate, the question is why your efforts in all these decades have not borne results? Why are you still so terribly beset with internal security problems? You must understand that real life is not like a Hindi film where anything can be done by pumping more money”.
The author has voiced his wise counsel to the State and said, “It would be an insult if you think that you could ‘win the hearts and minds’ of your alienated people by giving them tea, trinkets, medicines, tonics, transistor radios, solar systems, sports items and t-shirts – and that too 65 years after independence. Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been; what you have been doing all these years? Moreover, your people are not so dumb or primitive as the people those exalted generals had encountered in those backward places.”
On his part, the author has part replied the question and has left the remainder for the State to answer. He has brought into discussion a very real phenomenon which we seem to have ignored in Kashmir all these years. Although we have a colossal pile of post 1990 political literature littering the streets of Srinagar, India, Pakistan and some important capitals of the world, yet this literature mostly manufactured on order of interested parties in Delhi and Islamabad, does not remain more than a waste. We have failed to identify an important phenomenon which the author has so ably and honestly put on the page. He has cautioned the State against an unholy nexus of media, police and intelligence agencies to ‘manufacture consent’ which is ‘dangerous for the future of democracy because in the process we are alienating millions further”.
The author dilates his caution stating “We have often been falling prey to overblown and false psychoses that have trapped us in hysteria. A dangerous prejudice has crept into the psyche of not only the police but the media and the people as well. The moment a bomb blast took place, the immediate, almost instinctive presumption was that it must have been done by the Muslims in general and the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI)/Indian Mujahideen in particular, in pursuance of their transnational anti-India agenda at the behest of the ISI or the Lashkar-e-Taiyyibah, to fight a global jihad and establish Islamic rule once again. To most people, what matters is that someone should be blamed and blamed quickly; if he can be arrested or shot quickly, all the better. Any voice in protest is sought to be silenced – an ordinary man is likely to be dubbed anti-national for questioning the police and the media. In other words, the unholy nexus of media, police and intelligence agencies is trying hard to ‘manufacture consent’”.
In explaining the dangers of unholy nexus which promotes a ‘manufactured consent’ to go to war with a people (civilian population) author has quoted a piece written by Tarun Tejpal, the editor-in-chief of the Tehelka magazine in 2008. Under the caption “The Thin Red Line” Tejpal has pointed out in 2008, “The Indian State must tread carefully…For the last many years – abetted by global trends, the state’s actions and utterances seem to be deepening a prejudice against Muslims. Catching the mood, Bollywood’s arch villains are now mostly Islamic. India has 160 million Muslims, more than Pakistan, more than any other country save Indonesia. Even if 10,000 are radicalised it’s barely a tree in the forest. To create an atmosphere that blights the entire forest is a mistake. To foster a psychology of siege in an entire community is a disaster. Before it seeks further bans, the state ought to vigorously introspect”.
The chapter on Kashmir entitled “Kashmir and its Real Implications” from pages 28-64 makes a very enlightening reading. Kashmir watchers and others who subscribe a serious interest in Kashmir should read the book. Writing about the Kashmir situation in 1989 the author states, “It was almost an uprising against India. The end appeared to be round the corner. One could feel the ‘climate of collapse’ everywhere. But perhaps it was a miscalculation by those in the ISI who armed and trained the Kashmiri terrorists that saved the day for India. The ISI had thought that the insurrectional focus would trigger a chain reaction leading to the collapse of the regime. What they had not been able to do in 1947 from outside, they hoped to accomplish this time from within. And, by God, they did come perilously close to it. Unfortunately they underestimated India’s moment of inertia, to use the term from physics.”
Pointing out the advantages of the role of Indian size, author writes, “The ISI was following the classical technique of inflicting upon us what is famous in Chinese torture as ‘death by a thousand cuts’. Yet we were so huge that we did not bleed to death”. In regard to human endurance author has made an important observation which most of our social scientists have failed to make and have no interest to consider it either. He writes, “That (size) frustrated the ISI. The ISI failed to understand one more thing. It is that no society can maintain a given tempo of agitation for an indefinite length of time. Things tend to subside – time deflates any balloon. In 1942, we had a galaxy of leaders who could be called charismatic. Yet the Quit India movement could never fire up the Indians en masse and the movement effectively fizzled out by March 1943.”
The other most important observation in the Kashmir chapter is how ‘opportunism’ sets in over a period of time. Kashmir scene offers an apt example of the role of ‘opportunism’. However, author has advised the State not be Gandhari of Mahabarat in its consideration of Kashmiri sentiment. He writes “One who denies that there is indeed a deep-rooted, indelible undercurrent of anti-India and pro Azadi (pro-freedom) sentiments in Kashmir is closing his eyes deliberately like Gandhari of Mahabarat who had blindfolded herself. Such sentiments are not seasonal or dependent on instigation by the ISI or the Hurriyat. They exist and have existed all these years…Remember, the Hurriyat or the ISI play the role of a catalyst in a chemical reaction. A catalyst only changes the rate of a reaction – the reaction is still carried out by the original ingredients. So is the case with the Kashmir”.

Author is Secretary General – JKCHR, NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. He can be contacted at

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