MARGINALILA: Let us have our peace, them their wars!

By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal. Dated: 1/20/2013 12:01:25 AM

The war clouds are disappearing and the war rhetoric has sobered down from Sushma Swaraj’s demand of ‘If his (Hemraj's) head could not be brought back (from Pakistan), we should get at least 10 heads from their side’ to Sonia Gandhi’s ‘Our dialogue must be based on accepted principles of civilised behaviour’. Peace lovers and campaigners may heave a sigh of relief and so would panic begin to descend in the villages on the Line of Control on both sides. The latter are the ones who get most affected when hostilities resume at the borders. Much to the annoyance of all those who took painstaking efforts to whip up a war frenzy invoking hatred, enmity and revenge in the drawing rooms of the people for over a week, hopes of an enduring ceasefire have returned. This may not be good news for many - for the saffron brigade that makes the best of its propaganda of demonising Pakistan and Muslims, beyond their role and involvement, for the Congress who are forced to up the ante while foolishly competing with Sangh’s BJP, for all those army generals who chose to speak a language of revenge as the basic military doctrine, for all the media Moghuls, who thrive on the war jargon for the benefit of artificially pumped TRP rating, whose fiery debates, often monologues can’t be watched without wearing a helmet, or atleast plugging the ears with cotton swabs. War mongers, this side or that, were back on their job since January 6, working diligently to manufacture consent that it is war, atleast intolerance, retaliation and revenge, were the answer to all their troubles and to give an impression that a mechanism of diplomatic ways of sorting out tensions, at the military, official or political levels just does not exist.
It is ironic how war frenzy takes just a few hours to whip up and how peace, just a semblance of it, takes years to build. The dominant jingoistic discourse in the last over a week had begun to threaten two groups of people, jittery, fingers crossed trying to be heard amidst the war and hate jargon. One was the constituency of peace, built by earnest and painstaking efforts of years by many peace activists on both sides of the border, pressurizing establishments in New Delhi and Islamabad to foster better relations and resolve all by-standing disputes including Kashmir. Second, though more significant, were the people who live bang at the borders, especially at the more fragile Line of Control, a contentious border that divides Jammu and Kashmir into Indian and Pakistan administered territories. Both stood threatened by the renewed tensions at the Line of Control ever since new year began. And yet, they didn’t even count as the hawks in both countries, far away from the LoC and way opposed to the peaceniks, began sounding their war bugles, adding to the tension of active guns at the LoC that may as well have been a little more than routine at the borders. However, one cannot be oblivious of the fact that tensions at the LoC have been on the rise in the last one year and need significant attention.
At the same time, the significance of maintaining a ceasefire, even as it propelled only a very tardy paced peace process between the two countries, needs to be understood. A ceasefire enabled the start of symbolic trade and bus service connecting the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir, on either side of the Line of Control, facilitating limited and selective movement and interactions, giving chance to divided families, separated by an accident of history that changed their geographies. It gave a decade long respite to the people living bang at the borders, who ever since 1947 have learnt to live in constant fear, panic, insecurity and threat of homelessness, besides bearing the additional brunt of seeing very little development percolating down for their benefit. For once in their lives, the border people had gradually begun to get some normalcy in their lives, howsoever limited in scope by the inaccessibility of their fenced out villages and their vast distance from the civil administration. The benefits of ceasefire were few but still something they deeply cherish.
But those who feel that wisdom lies, not in knowing (about what ceasefire and hostilities do to people at the borders, to the fate of peace process) but in creating a narrow definition of nationalism, inspired by parochialism and hatred, would obviously not wish to hear the stories and sagas of the marginalised people at the borders. They’ve never borne the brunt of war but they have promoted it so easily, so consistently and perseveringly. Perhaps, it may be good that their efforts do not go in vain. Let them have their fill of wars, after all if rest of us are entitled to our peace. War mongers on both sides should be enlisted and enrolled and sent to fight their battles but let’s just spare the LoC, which is not only a line on the map, it is place inhabited by people. Let’s just allow them to leave for a far away abandoned destination, not Siachen which needs to be saved from further pollution but perhaps Mars if the need be, and let them be their patriotic, nationalistic and vindictive best. May the best one wins! As for the rest of us, we can move on to peace building, mutual trust and friendship.



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