Relatives popping in for visits is normally and acceptably disruptive in the subcontinent — the Indian penchant for unsolicited advice, judgements, the usual distribution of 'gyaan' or mansplaining that men exhibit, especially if the household is run by a woman.
In this author's case, it is also an opportunity to observe and analyse behaviours in the context of the political drama played out in the Valley these past three decades; exacerbated by the Islamic terrorism and the continuing baggage of the cleaving Partition — Muslim separatism.
There is a limit to understanding and empathy for children born in conflict, for parents whose childhood was filled with the myth of Pakistan, the success of the ummah over kafirs (the infidel) and xenophobia transmitted to successive generations about the Punjaeb (punj-ae-eb), Bihaer (bi-hae-ir) or baniya ‘Endians’ — all derogatory labels.
Our grandfathers’ generations were high on the ambiguity of the Abdullahs and their — sometimes closet and sometimes open — communalism.
The ropes for taking the Indian state, judiciary, and the Constitution for a ride were learnt in the era of the Sheikh, the NC inter-factional splits, the Mufti and the thuggish, but firm, Bakshi with the ever-present hovering Jamaat cadres and the 'freedom-fighter' pension-drawing opportunist Hurriyat thugs in the background.
The support for the insurgency and 'shadow war' of Pakistan or the unfinished business of the Partition that erupted in the 1990s does not come as a surprise, nor can it be intellectually apologized for.
Post-nullification of Article 370, that support has just been repressed — as is evident from the attitudes mentioned above still prevalent in Kashmiri society; ready to flare up whenever Pakistani-disinformation campaigns become successful among the elite Muslim families in the Valley.
Counter-terrorism strategies and policies can be effective only when there is a substantial counter-narrative, counter-ideological community outreach using Islam's critical, rational, and heretical traditions.
This would involve counter-communalism through imams, moulvis, theological scholars, intellectuals, civil society, media influencers negating the patriarchal, xenophobic interpretations of Islamic texts, commentaries, and folklore.
It is amusing to observe the elite Muslim relative—with a sound English-medium schooling, a spectacular career in communications technology, owing to the advent of India's timely adaptation of the digital age and various benefits that any Indian Muslim gets under the IPC, the Indian Constitution, the Indian passport, the Indian tag, the Indian secularism in workplaces — harbouring anti-India sentiments.
Not just displaying them in the cinema hall while the national anthem is playing, but transmitting the prejudice, the bias onto his progeny with the 'Modiji' jibe when a senior citizen with hair, beard and glasses is sighted.
It is fascinating to know also, with guarantee of a lifetime's working experience in Indian institutions and its mediocrity-rewarding, nepotism-awarding culture, that this elite Muslim Kashmiri male relative will be at the helm of affairs and a boss to several competent, truly secular, rational, nationalist Kashmiris, who too were hounded out of the Valley along with the ethnically cleansed Pandits by the Pakistani-ISI chapters of disinformation and narrative building machinery — the intifada factory (journalists, civil society, bureaucrats, elite families, tycoons, hoteliers, traders, bankers, media influencers, intellectuals, and of course, the state-sponsored militants-turned-editors).
The month of January is a constant reminder of what tore apart our social fabric and rendered not just native, indigenous Pandits, homeless and permanently exiled, but also rationalist Muslim nationalists — who paid for their patriotism and clarity of mind and loyalty with their lives, their homes and jobs, their reputations, and above all sanity.
January is also a reminder that the state behaved with knee-jerk reactions to march to the obsolete United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) headquarters at Gupkar, for the memorandum handing photo-ops; not very different from the clueless plan, non-existent strategy or policy for the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, forget unlearning and relearning of the new generation of India's past and present.
The shadow of the winter of 1989-90 is still hovering in 2023, as twin blasts rocked the Narwal area of Jammu City, and the Pir Panjal mountain range away from Kashmir Valley, where Pandits from all walks of life were and are still targeted for their religious and nationalist identity.
Is my educated, successful careerist, upstanding, respectable, elite relative an Islamist, Jihadist or just religiously conservative?
A little bit of both because you see, he is the same as those punks and wanna-be-Rambos high on the screening of Omar Mukhtar-Lion of the Desert in the 80s, who wanted an Islamic Republic of Kashmir in the 90s with a Nizam-e-Mustafa.
But show them videos of Taliban whipping women, or ISIS executions, or Qaeda propaganda of restoration of Caliphate and they balk and gape at the reality of implementing full sharia laws especially criminal laws.
These are the same citizens who hesitate to apply for residency in a Muslim-majority, but zealously advocate Islam to the lower classes — the Ajlaf, the Pasmandas — while giving certificates of Muslimness (takfirism) or declaring rationalist Muslims as heretics and marginalizing them.
There must be a serious revisionism of the subcontinent's history and patriarchal and separatist interpretations of Islamic theology — if the state wants any visible change in attitudes and behaviours of Kashmiris towards the general population of Indians, both Muslims and Hindus.
A man is the sum of his heritage, his roots, the wisdom of his elders, the values of his community and the teachings and knowledge of his peers.
The same way as a dissident, a critically thinking woman is using all her courage, her scepticism, standing on the shoulders of the giants of rationality, doubt, reasoning, heresy (Khaldun, Rushd, Sina, Farabi, Razi) to withstand the onslaught of her tribe on the clarity of her mind, because the truth is the most important pursuit — a purpose defined by the great Indic seers, be they Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikhi or the numerous ones from creeds dotted all over the Indic Jambudvipa.
It is up to the state to decide, who they will uphold the next time a doctrine to combat Muslim separatism and secession is being formulated.
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