[Reader-list] The hail of stones - Faizan Ali

Pawan Durani pawan.durani at gmail.com
Sat Mar 6 10:05:24 IST 2010

The hail of stones - Faizan Ali

Source : FaceBook page

The streets of Srinagar, in the past couple of years, have been
playing gracious hosts to more bricks and stones than rain and snow.
The stone pelting, without doubt, has caused ripples cutting across
lines of allegiances or ideologies. While on one hand, the Government
is moving pillar to post to fight this problem which, they say, is a
bigger threat than the militancy and is being funded by elements
across the border – on the other hand, the separatists are backing
stone pelting as credible and righteous means to fight the oppression
and atrocities of the occupiers. The privileged intelligentsia of the
State, not to be left behind, are debating, as to with which prism
this entire exercise is to be viewed – the verdict, as always, is
fractured, diverse and spread across the extremes. The mainstream
opposition, not willing to forego some political ground, is speaking
in varied tones to please every ear.

The painful shrieks of the common man, who tends to be the only
sufferer, are being ironically drowned in the dazzle and pomp of
glorifying and ridiculing stone pelters. The young lives lost in this
exercise have always had confusing climaxes - with the administration,
on one hand, branding them as seasoned stone pelters and the families,
on the other hand, defending their slain sons as teenagers who
couldn’t run faster than the bullets while playing cricket on the
streets or returning from tuitions. Whatever is the case – the
bottom-line is that precious young lives are being lost and what’s
worse is that they’re being used as steeping stones for initiating
protests in the name of getting justice to the departed souls but soon
become just one more addition to the stats ledger.

If stone-pelting was the way for delivering justice to those deprived
of it, where is that justice? Instead of getting justice to the dead
and paralyzed; more and more fathers have to bear the unbearable
burden of shouldering the corpses of their teenage sons. Though some
may defend individual loses stand too small against the towering
backdrop of the larger cause of freedom - but haven’t we already bled
enough to continue to bleed each passing day. When a decade of
gun-culture couldn’t get us anywhere how can freedom be a stone’s
throw away? I would like to ask all those who defend and glorify stone
pelting as to how they would feel if they lost a teenager son or a
sibling in stone pelting? And how many of them actually encourage
their children to go and pelt stones against the gun barrel and
instead of sending them to the esteemed universities and colleges of
the “oppressor” in the “oppressor’s back yard”? Why this dual
yard-stick approach, Sir? Are others the children lesser mortals? Why
this glaring discrepancy where some privileged enjoy a life of luxury
and class and others are called onto streets to die?

The Government on its part has to do away with the tactics of
quenching protestors with just brute force. That may be the temporary
solution but somewhere down the line it will raise its head again in
one form or the other. The government on its part will have to agree
that there is a good level of discontent among certain quarters and
asserting their supremacy using sheer force will not do. Bullets are
not the answer to stones; instead the Government should set a
precedent of ushering in an era where anyone guilty of any wrong doing
should be held accountable for his guilt. But the Government sadly has
failed over and over again in delivering justice leaving the field
open for opportunists to take over and dictate terms to the people and
the entire State. When four unidentified masked youth can enforce a
strike in the entire Valley for a week, what credibility does the
Government enjoy? The politics over the entire stone pelting affair
makes it clear that it is not as simple as it appears; the arrest of a
stone-pelting ring leader has led to him being associated with the
mainstream by the separatists and vice versa. No one is certain as to
who is calling the shots.

When the Western countries can deliberate upon the concept of the good
Taliban and the bad Taliban – why can’t our government go on similar
lines? Why can’t they take into confidence those people who do it for
the sake of money coz of lack of other employment options? Why can’t
the Government use water cannons, tazers and rubber bullets instead of
the expired tear gas shells and bullets? One thing is clear that brute
force is not way to deal with this problem.And not to forget, after
the killing of baby Irfan - there is blood on the hands of both the
sides; whether you want to choose the lesser of the two evils or kill
the evil altogether - I leave that for each one of you to decide. The
politics of dancing over dead bodies must end; coz while our esteemed
politicians and intellectuals are debating this problem, a patient is
not receiving the treatment at the right time, a daily-wager and his
family are being forced to go to bed with an empty stomach, the
education of the kids is taking a hit, public property is being
destroyed and more importantly blood is being spilled in the streets.
The Government needs to get its act together otherwise as Saul Bellow

“A fool can throw a stone in a pond which even 100 wise men can’t get out.”

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