I have read multiple view points emerging about the recent Kashmiris cheering Pakistan episode. Of special mention is the article ‘Of Sedition and Cricket’ by Shujaat Bukhari. It is well written and the writer has brought all aspects of the mindset of Kashmiri youth. However, it fails to make inroads into the mind of other Indians and the reason for discriminatory behavior towards the youth of the valley per se.
My personal view is the government has been unnecessarily harsh on Kashmiri students, with 67 of them booked under seditious charges, who also faced suspension by a Meerut University.
It is hard to dig deep into the heart of any Kashmiri by others in India every time he or they commit a faux pas. Dictionary defines a faux pas as a socially awkward or tactless act, especially one that violates accepted social norms, standard customs, or the rules of etiquette. “People only see the overt face value!” is what the world says. They have little time to spare to dig into your psyche, your history and your compulsions to understand and condone the acts.
Say for example – If, I was to shout at my wife in front of train passengers. Everyone will hold the view that ‘I am a bad tempered man’. They will not dive for reasons why I displayed such behavior publicly no matter how right I may be and how wrong my wife may have been.
Coming back to sports – can an American cheer for a Russian team in a match between the two countries? I don’t think even multicultural Americans, who hold civil liberties and freedom close to their heart and call themselves a civilized nation, can digest that in their country in an open platform against their rivals. It is difficult to explain to the rest of India why Kashmiri students cheer for Pakistan against India. When I queried about this cheering, a Kashmiri youth once told me ‘It is tradition in Kashmir to cheer for Pakistan.’
‘Aap nahi samjhoge’ (you’ll not understand). I asked him an explanation, he had none.
Another significant point, Shujaat’s article raises, and this may find resonance in Kashmir too; he writes, “One interesting thing has come up after the Meerut incident. Some of the students who are studying there have gone under Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme, which means that their study is fully funded. But even that has not helped them change their ideology.”
To this, I respectfully ask, “Why do the students accept the largesse if they detest the benefactor of these benevolent schemes. Do they have it in them to reject such schemes or not to apply for them?”
This pattern, reminds me of a recent case of Rachel Canning, an 18-year-old from New Jersey, who sued her parents. The parents said that their daughter Rachel voluntarily left their home after refusing to abide by the house rules. Rachel’s dad Sean told New York’s CBS 2-. “There’s minor chores. There’s curfews. When I say curfew, it’s usually after 11 o’clock at night. She does not want to abide by these rules or pitch in for house chores” In the lawsuit, Rachel asked a court to have her parents pay the outstanding dues for school; pay her future living and transportation expenses, her legal bills etc.
The judge shot down her plea and stated “Do we want to establish a precedent where parents are living in constant fear of establishing basic rules of the house?” Judge Bogaard said in the hearing. “If they set a rule a child doesn’t like, the child can move out, move in with another family, seek child support, cars, cell phone, and a few hundred grand to go to college? Are we going to open the gates for 12-year-olds to sue for an X-box? For 13-year-olds, to sue for an i-Phone?”
In other words, Rachel wanted all rights without any duties or responsibility. In the current scenario, do we as self-respecting individuals need to introspect that duties, responsibilities and rights go hand in hand.
It is my opinion that not only in India but in any country it would be a digression to see any local or others cheering for an arch rival against the home country. And here in India, cheering a country with a long history of enmity and hatred in a public place is hardly becoming.
People visiting Kashmir from other states can be taken aback when they see Kashmiris cheering for Pakistan in Kashmir during sports matches, but if Kashmiris were to repeat this sentiment elsewhere in the country in public, it could hardly be expected to find favours.
Not just India, but in any other developed countries too it would be hard for the local populace to tolerate even a tourist cheering for his own country team in their country or worse if a tourist cheered an enemy country against a home country team in public. One has seen many fights erupting in sports stadiums world over even though groups are cheering their own home teams.
Somewhere cheering for Pakistan is the result of a deep rooted mindset, in Kashmir valley. Even a small scuffle or heated word by security forces or police may raise hackles in Kashmir. The fact that the security forces have been harsh in public dealing in Kashmir cannot be denied. Hence, a mere security check is looked down upon as an affront, with little understanding that it may not be construed as humiliation but as a preventive measure for public safety. And, it is not as if the minor episode is confined to the particular point, the opportunity of weaving stories around it and making it into a full fledged magazine article is never lost. Many conflict zones exhibit this trend.
I have seen this pattern in Pakistan too. There too a minor episode is blown up with a disturbing and bechara aspect thrown in to create an emotive issue.
In the current scenario much of Pakistan’s public, especially, its dominant Punjab is strongly in favor of solving their home problems and moving forward on other issues with India without the Kashmir issue being a of core value. Time and again few Pak politicians raise the Kashmir issue for effect. Even Nawaz Sharif, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, did it sometime back but it caused more of a flutter in India than in Pakistan, a media person from across the border confided laughingly.
Noted columnist and Editor-in-Chief of ‘The Friday Times’- Najam Sethi, who became a caretaker Chief Minister of Pakistani Punjab during general elections, bluntly states in television interviews that Kashmir has ceased to be a core issue for Pakistan.
Nusrat Javed, a famous Pakistani journalist and anchor for Aaj TV says Kashmir issue is no more an emotive issue that cuts any ice with the Television channel audience and carries very little interest amongst the Pakistani public. The Pak public today is more concerned and perturbed over their own grave problems of daily bombings and killings besides dealing with the Taliban on its western border and frontier provinces with Afghanistan.
Hereby self-respect has become the moot question for Kashmir. There is a country that hardly lays any store about past intimacy and here is one who cheers, holds and harps on about a romance refusing to believe it is lost.
Author can be mailed at email@example.com
FIRST PUBLISHED IN ‘RISING KASHMIR’ 14 MARCH 2014