Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Flag hoisting in Lal Chauk

While addressing the alienation felt by local population in the Srinagar valley is more important than hoisting the flag, and I am no fan of BJP. But for some reason I do have sympathy for the BJP, on this "agitation of nationalism" that they are organizing. Of course, only as long as they can keep their agitation peaceful.

These are some of the reasons why it does not seem completely mindless to me:

1) The people by themselves do not always agitate, neither separatists nor in this case the BJP workers. The leaders insight them to do so. This is, in a way, a signal to the separatist leaders, Kashmiri leaders, and others that two can play the game. So review your strategy.

2) For too long the nationalism in J&K has been hostage to threats from separatists from the valley. A counter voice is needed in the valley, if they are not to dominate the discourse. Though it needs to be peaceful, it needs to be a political voice, not official administrative voice alone.

3) Flag hoisting should not be limited to the government official functions in J&K. The nationalistic people in J&K need to use the symbolic occasions to let their presence known.

4) It is perhaps not so easy for the locals alone to politically raise the nationalistic voice. A national party is in a position to do so with the political force that is needed.

5) Umar Abdullah has lately been quite belligerent in his autonomy demand. Every time he is not able to control the failing of his own government, he demands more autonomy for state government. Some kind of political message in J&K from the regions of Laddakh and Jammu that we want more integration not less is needed. BJP wants to create base in these regions.

6) Stopping someone from raising the national flag is illegal. National flag is raised for the express purpose of symbolism; that in this country there will be respect for the unity and integrity of the nation. Unless we decide that we are willing to accept secession of the valley, we should not stop the people of India to raise flag in the valley.

7) Police excesses should not be tolerated but law and order is a local subject. The government of J&K is responsible for the local police excesses. Nationalism is a separate issue and police excess is a different issue. These should not be linked.

8)The question of life of dignity for the refugees who had to flee the valley for fear of violence should be raised in the same breath as the sentiments of the separatists.

1 comment:

  1. Symbolism has a very significant place in human history. The heart swells with pride at the sight of the Tricolour flying high in the snow-capped mountains of Leh while the national anthem plays on. Even a commoner who wud have never climbed a hill in his life, will find for a second his voice going all cotton wool.
    Political parties have long known the relevance and the use of symbolism as a tool. Sadly, their intentions are not always noble.
    J&K is this classic case. Everybody is fighting for Peace in the Valley but it does not happen. The sense of belongingness for India among the Kashmiri people is questionable.
    For India or for Pakistan, the region is more an ego issue. And even if someone might attempt this, it will be met with a strong public wrath. Why? Symbolism again.
    "Dhudh Mangoge Kheer Denge, Kashmir Mangoge Cheer Denge" - the bumper sticker on a truck is the best example.
    Even if you would have had Kashmir what would you have done? A relevant question which every Indian or even Pakistani should think about.
    A very well written piece!