Dr Dibyesh Anand is an Associate Professor in International Relations at London’s University of Westminster with interests in politics of state, democracy and identity, especially in the Himalayan borderlands. He is almost always at www.facebook.com/dibyesh
As the Indian democracy conducted a state-planned, state-sanctioned, state-executed murder of Afzal Guru, and the news was greeted by celebrations amongst nationalist media and various political actors ranging from the rightwing BJP to the leftwing Communist parties, it becomes clear that India’s collective conscience is as hypocritical as it is murderous. I could do nothing but write two letters on facebook. One to my Kashmiri friends with my head hung in shame. The other to extremist Indian nationalist individuals who sent a barrage of abuse and threat in my direction. My words are all I have. They are ineffective. But they still come out. To express my indignation at the faux democracy that is India and its increasing extremist nationalism.
As soon as I read the news on 9 February 2013
Dear Kashmiri friends
I am sorry but it is clear again and again that India’s ‘collective conscience’ has no place for you.
You see, the affective space that Kashmir occupies in Indian nation is a territory purged off most of you (especially the Muslims). Kashmir is integral to India, not the Kashmiri people.
If any one of you have any doubt, speak to the paramilitary men occupying your homeland. They will tell you bluntly ‘you all are fanatic Muslims and can never be trusted’ [at least that was the almost uniform narrative I got from them when I was in Srinagar a few winters ago].
Even the old discourse of you being essential to the notion of Indian secular democracy is mostly worn out. What secularism, what democracy? Didn’t you know that India is competing to join the ‘big boys’ league of the USA and China who specialise in violence, occupations, and of course capital punishment.
You are a liability, but your territory is precious. Your aspirations, desires, histories, futures, pain, humiliation, hopes, nothing matters.
But then you are not an exception. Speak to many inhabiting the space called India in the northeast or in the tribal heartlands. It is a similar story of a lack of care, a lack of democracy, and even contempt for you all.
The merchants of conscience will not stop. They have tasted blood. If it is not you, it will be another Dalit, or another Muslim, or a tribal or another impoverished.
I never do pride in identity, but today, once again, I do feel shame in sharing a form of identity with the Republic of Injustices that is India.
Rather than engaging with me through emails and facebook now on phone and calling me ISI spy, or a Paki lover, or a closet Muslim, or a pseudo-secular, or a long distance anti-nationalist, or a traitor who should be brought down, or anti-Hindu who deserves to be shot, etc, why don’t you get a life?
I mean get a life that is worth living. Life of a human and not of a slave. You are nothing but a slave to an idea of nation that you yourself are making racist, exclusionary, and violent. Do not pretend to not be communal or racist or whatever for your every sentence is laced with that.
No, it is not me who is the problem, it is you who is the problem. Purge the nation of yourself and maybe it will become redeemed then.
No, it is not the Kashmiris who have been protesting non-violently in various ways and getting only arbitrary arrests, detentions, gagging orders, curfews, abuses, beatings, and brutalisations of all kind who are the extremists.
No, it was not the Manipuris or Nagas or others who were ever as violent as you. Even if they were ever used arms, at least they had a cause. A cause of fighting the banal securitisation of life and humiliation they have to undergo.
Come to think of it, no, not even the Naxals are as violent as you. They kill no doubt and have their own distorted and sometimes dirty politics. But can they ever compete with you with your religiosity, your casteism, your historical privileges, your increasing control over the institutions of the state, the non-state and the market?
You are an extremist. You are the extremist.
Look into the mirror. You should see an ugly face. A face that hides all kinds of prejudices (religion, caste, class, ethnic, racial, gender) but you are nothing but an ugly creature of hatred and arrogance. Your ugliness comes from your intolerance, your arrogant Self and your complete lack of empathy for the other.
Your face may be mine and similar to mine. But I am not you. At least I try not to be you. I may fail. But I will not give up trying not to be you.
I am unimportant, I am nobody.
But you are somebody for you claim to speak for a nation. Go and ponder and reflect.
If you cannot, at least leave me alone, apply your Fair and Lovely cream and remain smug in your world.