Cricket match is over, political battles are not

Arun Joshi

When on Sunday night , the whole of India was watching the Indo-Pak cricket match being played in Dubai, UAE, several homes in Kashmir were celebrating the win of Pakistan over India. The video clips of students of two medical institutes in Srinagar appeared on social media , showing them feverishly cheering and Pakistan win over India in the cricket match . It was extreme delirium with equally delirious slogans in favour of Pakistan, which irritated the Indian minds.

In Kashmir, such things are not uncommon . Whenever there is Indo-Pak match , several sections of Kashmiris cheer Pakistani team . When Pakistan wins, they cheer and burst fire crackers , and if greens loose to blues , they wait for the day when blues are beaten by some other country in the cricket field to give an outlet to their feelings. What happened on Sunday night was extraordinary because they were not cheering better team or celebrating its victory , they were jubilant because India had lost the match . They have grown up with this psyche over the years. They have learnt to see greens as an alternative reality , an escapism from the reality in which they were living. Some of the fringe elements see it the way Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid put it “ Islam’s victory over Hindus.”

The October 24 case has grabbed headlines because the police registered cases against the students of the two medical institutes , who not only cheered Pakistani team but also raised feverish-pitched slogans, hailing Pakistan .The cases were registered under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act or UAPA , the anti-terror law, invoked against the terrorists and their harbourers. In this case, the logic was that it hurt the national sentiment and encouraged the anti-India activities.

This action of the students , as some leaders like Farooq Abdullah , former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir observed , was in reaction to BJP government’s act of scrapping Article 370 of the Indian constitution that did away with the semi-autonomous status of the erstwhile state and divided it into two union territories. This is patently wrong .

This kind of behaviour has been part of the people spread across Kashmir over the decades. These are not the illiterates or semi-literates or lumpens who indulge in such activities, but the elite is more pronounced .. The medical students come from well-to-do and and highly educated families . There were celebrations over Pakistan’s victory over India in the cricket field with similar passionate cries in excitement , as it happened on Sunday night even when Article 370 was in place . The only difference is that the police would not file ay such case because of the political bosses would not approve of it. This was not a vicarious patronage but a direct one , as the Kashmir-centric parties National Conference , People’s Democratic Party have soft corner for those raising pro-Pakistan slogans or indulging in anti-national sloganeering and activities . This is their political staple diet. Now the People’s Conference of Sajad Gani Lone having the separatist past , now favouroite of Delhi establishment, too, has joined this bandwagon to compete with NC and PDP on this turf.

Why should these sections of Kashmiris not cheer the Indian team, despite the fact that the institutes where they study and the sports fields they play and the paved roads where they move around have been built by the funds coming from Delhi . This year alone GoI has given more than Rs one lakh crore to J&K, which is many times more given to other states and union territories given the population . J&K is having only 1.25 crore people, more than 75 lakh of them live in the Valley. There is an all-time logic by the defenders of this attitude , “ sentiment””, implying thereby that the pro-Pakistan sentiment prevails over all the economic benefits that flow to J&K.

This question demands a deeper introspection than mere “ sentiment” theory . It is the home schooling of Kashmiri kids, who for the past three decades or more , have acquired the profile of “ children of conflict.” . India is not portrayed in proper spotlight . In fact, the teachers , mostly in government schools , teach more pf oral history than what is written in the text books .

This is symptomatic of systemic failure of the system in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan was given space by the system . The proponents of Pakistan were given all the freedom to preach their ideology . Since Pakistan is an Islamist state , several elements in Kashmir, the Muslim majority region in India , helped the Islamists to draw closeness to the neighbouring country. Pakistan has been hyper active in exporting its “ jihadist” ideology , to Kashmir.

Now the government of India will have to analyse all the aspects , which should move beyond prevention of repeat of such scenes in future. It should draw a clear distinction between what Pakistan is and what India stands for. India is not all about one religion , nor about one ideology . It is a country where various ideologies find expression .

Coming to Sunday episode and how to deal with it , there is a need to understand the whole perspective and take corrective measures without offering any and at the same time making it clear that there is a zero tolerance for support in any manner toward the neighbouring country that is known worldwide as hub of terrorism .

Arun Joshi is a Senior Journalist, Political Analyst based in Jammu and Kashmir. He has authored four books, including, “Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War”. He has worked with Hindustan Times, The Times of India, The Indian Express and The Tribune, and visited several countries to deliver lectures on Kashmir issue and international affairs.

Views expressed are personal

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