Ordinary people's problems are not primary concerns of this government

Speaking at 5th Neelabh Mishra memorial lecture, filmmaker Saeed Akhtar Mirza succinctly said that though his faith in ordinary people of country was restored, but sadly they don't rule the country

Twitter/@roadscholarz
Twitter/@roadscholarz
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Humra Quraishi

Filmmaker-author Saeed Akhtar Mirza delivered an absolutely impressive talk, titled - 'Manufacturing Hate'. The occasion was the 5th Neelabh Mishra memorial lecture.

Neelabh was a fearless outstanding journalist who passed away a few years back and it is in his memory that this lecture was organised in New Delhi by the activist-writer Kavita Srivastava and her team.

Saeed spoke calmly and more along the conversation style, yet he didn’t miss out on any of the dark realities of the day. There was a sense of hurt and pain in his voice as he dwelt on the destruction of the Babri masjid, Gujarat pogrom, massacres and slaughters of hundreds of innocents, spread of communal hate and violence, and the Right-Wing ideology of the rulers of the day.

Space constraints will not allow me to write all that Saeed spoke that evening but perhaps his one sentence seemed to hit the crux to today’s traumatic–tragic-tormented scenario. He told the packed auditorium that after the Babri Masjid destruction, he began touring and travelling through country, meeting ordinary people and those meetings gave him some hope but the reality is that the ordinary people don’t rule the country! To quote him: “I regained faith in the ordinary people of this country but they don’t rule this country!”

With that, he indirectly or directly pinpointed at the Right-Wing ideology of the rulers of the day that’s holding sway. Paving way for destructions, whether of human forms or of the very institutions and infrastructure!

Yashwant Sinha - Opposition parties choice for the president of India

Though the fact that looms large is civil servant turned politician Yashwant Sinha’s previous association with the BJP and also the fact that his son Jayant Sinha is still with the BJP (he continues to be the BJP MP from Hazaribagh constituency in Jharkhand which Sinha had represented in the past) but in recent years, ever since Yashwant Sinha severed ties with the BJP, he has been one of the strongest and fiercest critics of the Right-Wing political party- the BJP.

Also not to be overlooked is the fact that Yashwant Sinha’s views on the Kashmir crisis had been compatible with the ground realities. If you’d recall in 2016 Yashwant Sinha had led a five-member delegation to the Kashmir Valley and met a cross-section and had even come up with several recommendations to lessen the trauma faced by the local population. In fact, confirmed sources had even stated that after his Kashmir visits, he had sought time with the top political brass in New Delhi to discuss ‘the Kashmir crisis’ but wasn’t even given an appointment!

Thereafter, Yashwant Sinha had hit out rather too openly, coming up with details of the harsh reality prevailing in the Kashmir Valley that the political rulers in New Delhi refuse to accept or even acknowledge. “I am looking at the alienation of the masses of people in Jammu and Kashmir. That is something which bothers me the most. We have lost the people emotionally. You just have to visit the Valley to realise that they have lost faith in us.”


Yashwant Sinha and his team had even come with several suggestions or remedies that could have somewhat helped in the healing process; that is, if they were implemented.

To quote from news reports published in 2016, on the Yashwant Sinha led delegation’s suggestions– “The five-member group suggests release of first-time offenders, re-starting dialogue with separatists and judicial probe on police excess…The report recommended to start the process of reopening schools and as a precursor to this, release forthwith all first time offender schoolchildren and minors arrested under PSA…It suggested considering postponement of school examinations to a later date instead of insisting on holding them from November 15, compensation to kin of the civilians killed and those wounded, rehabilitation packages for those permanently blinded by pellet guns and set up of a blind school in Srinagar for children blinded by pellet guns. It called for a judicial commission into excesses by the police."

In fact, this detailed comprehensive report published in the national daily, The Hindu, dated December 2, 2016, carries several relevant factors to Sinha’s then visit to the Kashmir Valley: “A five-member Delhi group, headed by former Union minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday submitted its report to Union Home Ministry in Delhi on their recent visit to troubled Jammu and Kashmir. The group had visited Srinagar from October 25-27 and met senior separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik, and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Reiterating that the group’s initiative was not “a sponsored one,” the report said, “Across the political spectrum, the Kashmiris we met spoke to virtually the same script about the history of the Kashmir issue. They may have varied in the exposition of a particular issue but basically, all of them argued for a political solution to what they perceived as a political issue. They made the point that this is the fifth generation of Kashmiris which was protesting but to no avail.”

It underlined that there was also anger due to “excessive use of force by the security forces…The violence which began with the funeral procession of slain militant Burhan Wani has so far resulted in the death of nearly a hundred people. The question that most Kashmiris are asking is: Why were unarmed people going to offer last prayers for Burhan Wani fired at?” it said.

The report findings also highlighted that the business and trading community in Kashmir Valley “was not bothered about profit and loss but human loss and about the worsening situation in the Valley.” It said use of pellet guns for crowd control was the sorest point of all conversation with Kashmiris. “They want the pellet guns banned and cannot understand why Government of India is delaying this decision and why Indian security establishment is reluctant to give up this weapon.” … The group was also told that people alleged the search operations were resulting in destruction of property at Kashmir homes. “Apparently electrical and electronic gadgets are destroyed in the name of search operations. This continues even when the search operation yields nothing,” the report said. It also underlined public grievances about “abuse of Public Safety Act (PSA)”, destruction of electric transformers by security forces and harassment of people outside the valley.

In the long term, the report said people stressed “refusal to recognise Kashmir as a politically contentious issue.” “Across the cross section of people, we met there was anguish about India not recognizing that Kashmir was a dispute. The refusal to see Kashmir as a political issue, people claimed, had resulted in the present situation because a political issue cannot be solved through law-and-order measures,” it said.

The report also highlighted that Kashmiri separatist leaders think “unless India and Pakistan talk there can be no permanent solution to the Kashmir issue” …The report recommended to start the process of reopening schools and as a precursor to this, release forthwith all first-time offender schoolchildren and minors arrested under PSA. It suggested considering postponement of school examinations to a later date instead of insisting on holding them from November 15, compensation to kin of the civilians killed and those wounded, rehabilitation packages for those permanently blinded by pellet guns and set up of a blind school in Srinagar for children blinded by pellet guns. It called for a judicial commission into excesses by the police, especially the use of pellet guns.”

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