The most battered word in Kashmir over the past few years has been the “Azadi”, meaning freedom. However, the most active word in the same period has been the “Ego”. According to the Cambridge dictionary, “Ego” is “your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your feeling of your own importance and ability”. In Psychoanalysis, the part of a person’s mind that tries to match the hidden desires (wishes) of the id (part of the unconscious mind) with the demands of the real world. It is an established fact that before a man is physically free; he has to achieve the mental freedom and emancipation. Kashmiris have been egoists from the very dawn of history in the valley. Having an ego is a natural human behaviour but what spoils the show is a bloated ego! Well, we all appear to have a bloated ego genetically. It seems to be part of our DNA.
Internecine warfare has been the part of Kashmir’s history from the ancient times. People have always followed personalities rather than principles. One has only to open any chapter of Kalhana’s Rajatarangni, the earliest book of history in the sub-continent, to read about the continuous wars of succession among Kashmir’s royal families from the ancient times. Damaras, the barons of ancient Kashmir, were the kingmakers. They would put anyone they liked on the throne or dethrone a king whom they disliked. Another trait of our character which has been playing spoil sport has been the personality cult reinforced by dynastic succession.
As observed by foreign authors, we also have the trait of extreme jealousy and cannot see a fellow Kashmiri doing well in life! Kashmiris are fond of being ruled by kings and queens. Well, it is true for entire human civilization that a leader with a charismatic personality sways all. However, generally such persons after becoming popular lose their self-control and their egos get bloated which results in their fall. This has been true of Kashmir also and the vivid example is the great “Lion of Kashmir”. It was his bloated ego which landed Kashmiris in the present mess from which they see no escape!
Kashmiris have been aspiring for freedom popularly known as “Azadi” for a pretty long time. They have had umpteen leaders offering them leadership to the cherished goal. Unfortunately, most of the leaders have painted a utopian picture of that ultimate emancipation without bothering to give it a concrete and a precise shape. Some of them have been changing both the ultimate goal and the road leading to it from time to time. It is because of these changing stances that the people at present feel confused and lost. Several intellectuals within Kashmir as well as from outside often ask if the goal is same then why so many parties led by so many leaders? The reason is simple. The personality cult and the bloated egos. Every Kashmiri leader feels he is not only the right one but the best one to lead and achieve the goal unfortunately he is not sure what the goal is.
Freedom movements all over the world which have seen fruition have invariably had a single distinct leader and mostly one party led by that leader. Kashmir must be the only place in the world which has the unique distinction of having more than a couple of dozen parties led by an equal number of leaders struggling to achieve the goal of freedom. This infighting among local leaders has been Kashmir’s undoing right through its history of last four centuries or so. Outsiders have made most of this internecine warfare in capturing Kashmir and keeping it under their tutelage. In the present context, the agencies have been working overtime with commendable success in motivating these people to be at each other’s throats rather than facing the real oppressor! In fact, the agencies from both the sides work overtime to unite as well as disunite these people from time to time. While the agencies from the other side try to unite the people toeing their line, the agencies on this side try to dismantle that initiative by engineering split after split. Sometimes it is difficult to discern who are the “Real” people claiming to lead Kashmiris to salvation? Such things will go on endlessly until we are prepared to deflate our bloated egos and descend on the ground to face the actual reality. The ground reality is that the two sides of Kashmir have virtually been merged by the two neighbouring countries and the merger is physically guarded by huge armies and politically supported by their lackeys. The status will not change by seminars, sermons and press notes. The change can occur only if there is an indomitable urge among the people for a change. At the present moment no one has been able to create that urge and the people quietly go along with the status quo. The only hope is the younger generation simmering with a new urge which may burst forth anytime. Thus there is no need to get disheartened by yet another split in the conglomerate claiming to lead Kashmiris to the ultimate goal of total freedom. Incidentally, some members of the conglomerate are being guarded by the very same people against whom they claim to be struggling! People living on past glory rarely change the course of history. In the long run, it will be the bubbling youth led by convictions and ideology rather than the past glory men that will change the course of history and usher in the glorious dawn which all of us have been aspiring for! Kashmiris have survived on hope for centuries and will continue to do so in future also.