Thursday, August 25, 2016

Jashn-e-Intifada


When Sanjak Kak’s Jashan e Azadi (2007) came out hyper-nationalist were infuriated and asked for banning. I remember asking people to watch it. Only if you watch it, can you have an opinion on it. Only then you can understand why ultra-left would color Jihad as Intifada. Here’s the intro to the word “Intifada” in the film, the screen rolls in archival footage from 1992 showing Mujahideen giving gun salute to fallen comrades as common non-combatant local Kashmiris raise slogans, the narrator tells us :
“In the beginning of 1990, memories of old repression sought inspiration from Pakistan, Afghanistan; even Palestine and Iran. In those days, around 35000 rebels ( Kashmiris called them ‘Mujahideen’) were fighting the Indian army of 3.5 Lakh. The rebellion would be known as “Kashmiri Intifada”.

Mention of numbers, the maths, is of course to remind the viewers that the Mujahids were fighting a brave war against heavier odd. No mention of the fact that exactly from 1992 onwards the number of foreign Mujahids kept increasingly sneaking into Kashmir. However, this post is not about sneaky Mujahid with guns but an inquiry into how the word “Intifada” is sneaked into the left narrative. The director is honest enough and true to his principles claiming rebellion “would be” known as Kashmiri Intifada, he doesn’t claim it was back then known as Kashmiri Intifada. To the people on ground it was and it is Jihad, a religious duty. When the director says “would be known as”, it is just a wish that the director of the narrative has. It is like sugar coating a bitter pill of religious fanaticism with ideological romanticism. It is an attempt by Left to reclaim future without looking at its past failures.

The left has a special love for term Intifada. After all it is supposed to mean “resistance”. But, there is more to that love.

Most people now know the word thanks to the conflict industry setup around Palestine. But, the word in the sense it is used now, first came to be employed in Arab world of 1950s when the left was making great strides in attaining power. In Iraq, Iraqi Communist Party successfully used it against monarchy, the power of course later went to Army, and eventually to Iraqi “Ba'ath Party” (the words means “resurrection”) which spent no time burying communists. The original socialist Ba’ath Party before its split was founded in Syria by people who believed in pan Arab state. The left politics had a bigger impact on Syrian politics. At the time Syria was under military dictatorship of Adib Shishakli, a man who had earlier fought in Palestine in 1948. Communism had a mass following and was blooming.Historian Maxime Rodinson explains the significance of it as:
“In September 1954, in the first elections after Shishakli’s downfall, 22 Baathist were elected to the Parliament, together with the communist leader Khaled Begdash. This was the Left’s first great success in the Arab world.”

As later history tells us, this man too was hounded out.
Using such a powerful word in case of Kashmir, of course draws immediate connect from western audience which is well acquainted with Arab conflicts and its relation of the word “Intifada”to word colonialism. Even the left intelligentsia in India, has heavily invested in Palestinian conflict, so they too are able to see Kashmir with a certain lens when the word Intifada is used. It becomes easier to pass off Kashmir as a colony of India. India was a brute force.

And it has other benefits too:

When Hezbollah supports Intifada and when Arundhati Roy supports Intifada, both are essentially on same page and yet few would question Roy, “How can you be on same page as Hezbollah?”
Replace Hezbollah with Hizbul Mujahideen. You get the picture. If violent religious ideology of Hezbollah can be overlooked, Hizbul Mujahideen too can be sanitised and sold as “resistance movement” and broadcast on youtube as Electronic Resistance.

All that is fine. But, why this desperate attempt to plagiarize this history of Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Hezbollah, roll it into a bitter-sweet pill and pop it into “would be” conflict test lab of Kashmir. Why keep selling the condescending thought that when Muslims get repressed, they only rebel as violent religious organisations and the world has to accept it? Why not tell them about history of left led rebellion in Arab world? It’s success and failures. Similar success and failure of left in Kashmir. The assassinations of left leaders by the “rebels” in “Kashmir Intifada” of 1990s.

If nothing else, at least, come up with a Kashmiri word for Intifada.

What did Intifada do for Palestine?

Before the rise of religion driven movements and intifadas in Arab world, French Marxist historian Maxime Rodinson had these lines to offer as advise to his fellow Marxist in 1968. 

/“Yet false and over-schematised conceptions of Israel’s membership of and dependence on Western world must be rejected. Such conceptions are very widely held among the Arabs and elsewhere, and are furthermore frequently linked to Marxism. These notions are of the type which are fashionable in the most vulgar ideological Marxism of the Stalin era. The capitalist imperialist enemy of the people’s longings for liberty and equality is represented as a kind of legendary monster, with a single head and brain controlling a host of tentacles which unhesitatingly obey the orders of the master mind. The brain is situated somewhere between the Pentagon and wall Street, and none of the tentacles has any will of its own.
[…]
If the consequences of pressing a just claim are liable to be calamitous and unjust, and too fraught with practical difficulties, there may be grounds for suggesting that it be renounced. The wrong done to the Arabs by the Israelis is very real. However, it is only too common throughout history. Innumerable violations of rights of this nature have taken place since the beginnings of human society. Sometimes one side, sometimes the other has been the ultimate beneficiary. The Arabs, in their history, have made conquests on an infinitely greater scale and wronged many other nation. Some still behave in an entirely reprehensible manner - towards the Kurds for instance, and the negroes of South Sudan. The conquests of the past have been shrouded by the moral prescript of forgetfulness. The colonists are not monsters in human form, but people responding to reflexes which are unfortunately only too characteristic of social man. No one can without hypocrisy judge himself or his community to be free from such reflexes.”

Rodinson had the courage to say it after the end of 6 day war of 1967. Replace India with Israel and change Arabs with Kashmir, it won’t be difficult to do for some of you. If you go “…but India is no colonist” or “…but Kashmiris did no wrongs”, or “let’s get to the beginning”…you are either a hypocrite or ignorant or a mix of both.

It is easy to pass around quotes of Edward Said on Palestine and fit them to Kashmir. Be like Said, pick a stone and throw it around. But, is that honest.

“To make matters worse, the Palestinian Islamists have played into Israel’s relentless propaganda mills and its ever ready military by occasional bursts of wantonly barbaric suicide bombings that finally forced Arafat, in mid-December, to turn his crippled security forces against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, arresting militants, closing offices and occasionally firing at and killing demonstrators.[…]

A closer look at the Palestinian reality tells a somewhat more encouraging story. Recent polls have shown that between them, Arafat and his Islamist opponents (who refer to themselves unjustly as 'the resistance') get somewhere between 40 and 45 percent popular approval. This means that a silent majority of Palestinians is neither for the Authority's misplaced trust in Oslo (or for its lawless regime of corruption and repression) nor for Hamas's violence.”

 Edward Said wrote this in 2002 on the “new” Palestinian intifada, on how most Palestinians stood for neither Arafat nor Islamists, and how these people were the “silent majority”.

Needless to say, the intifada factory in India hasn’t yet reached a stage where such nuances matter. An Islamist terrorist is wrapped in sugar syrupy shroud weaved using "see-as-fit" words of Edward Said and presented as “The Resistance”, just because they, the Indian Palestinian experts, will have every one believe the most Kashmiris stand for Islamists and any body interesting in a future of Kashmir, has to get used to the idea. And it is all because of brutality. So, justified. So many are dying, so justified.

All the while failing to explain why even in face of Israeli brutalities, Palestinians were able reject Islamists?

The answer is because the Palestinians resistance is native while in Kashmir it is all an import. The guns and the ideology is imported from across the border while the lens used to analyse the Kashmir is imported from Indian intelligentsia that has long studied Palestine. These people who bendover backward to make Hizbul Mujahideen look like another run of the mill radical yet benign socialist party, are the people who would ensure that Kashmir will never see a truly secular future, or any future while Palestine still has a chance. Kashmir will only continue to churn out Indian experts who will put their sloppy Palestinan theories into action in Kashmir.

Now, recall history of Kashmir where unlike Palestine the violent bloodletting is only, on historic scale, recent, just 26 years old. If you see people peddling the failed vulgar variants of Marxist ideologies in case of Kashmir. It is no coincidence the new cry of Kashmiris is "Bharat ki Barbadi tak". You know how things would turn out. Kashmir still has a chance. All stake holders just need to count their losses of past, present and future.

-0-
Pic 1: Screengrab from the film showing Mujahideens giving gun salute to fallen comrades.
Pic 2: "Have mercy on us, because we are small and frightened and ignorant" ~ "dance macabre", end scene from "The Seventh Seal" (1957) by Ingmar Bergman.

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