Navigating politics in classrooms


Suppression has a unique characteristic, it does not ward- off danger of existent revolt completely. Rather it helps return the anxiety- aggression- state with more power. It is difficult to keep people down by unjust force and authority. Prolonged period of maltreatment cannot thwart chronic longing of people, you cannot kill a nation steadily and by inches, even if you do, history of oppression will remain. Instead of applying designed suppressible techniques, looking for permanent solution is far better an option that leads to the overall dignity of nations. Amnesia and fuge reaction is wandering away from reality, it suddenly ends up in an acute rundown, leaving authorities in a puzzle for the magnitude and intensity of an out of control situation. Unless, the new patterns for the gratification of basic motives are provided, nothing will help Kashmir to become peaceful. Angry People would keep on looking for intense opportunities to erupt and give bent to their emotions resulting from political starvation through crushing and quashing.   

The day ended up with same prayer session followed by a sermon on how girls were different from boys, and why they were not allowed to join the processions taking place around the college premises. Ms. Mehmooda Ahmad Ali Shah, the esteemed principal of the college was in a furious mood, like a wounded lioness she was roaring on telephone and asking the Police Chief to arrest the boys from two famous city colleges who were motivating girls to join them for a protest procession. The whole area was resonating with slogans for freedom and justice. Ms. Mehmooda, warning in strong words, was perusing us not to pay attention to the volcanic political eruption that was trying to disturb her belief of being an Indian. While time has failed to produce a replica of her stature as a strong and dedicated head of the prestigious city college, she was in contrast with the Muslim- majority staff and students. She believed in the politics of power. Ms. Shah was an Indian at heart with a tremendous tact to suppress the profound desire of her students to be free to decide their future, word plebiscite was a taboo and in a bid to be a complete loyalist, she wanted to capture every breath of ours that whispered the word; it was her wish to baptize us all, as Indian.  


The morning assembly was over, in an ear to ear confidential mode, we decided to become the part of the procession. I remember a huge group of girls, gate crashing and joining the long queues of boys on Moulana Azad Road.  It was unusual experience for us all; a feeling of cohesion to follow a cause, a rush of energy, an excessive flow of strength to shout slogans with force. The song, “Nider delair bachiyan Srinagar ki baitien mujahidoun ki baitien,’ playing across the border on radio had added fuel to an explosive political situation and we, as the young girls from Srinagar had taken it as an accomplishment. Qanita Farah Alvi, a strong group leader was leading us to a destination right in the heart of Shar-e-Khas,  Shariefa Qurashi, with her tremendous rhetoric capability, had breathed in us a fire of freedom. We had overcome the threat of authority but before we could reach there, the road was blocked with hurdles, fire brigades, trucks and jeeps, all stopping us to proceed further. Sensing the situation, youth leaders asked us to sit down, Jammu and Kashmir Youth League President; Abdul Rashid Qabili had to address the students.  Police sabotaged the move and did not allow it to happen, they ordered fire brigades to throw water on us, situation worsened and teargas shelling and firing in the air followed. A few of us got injured; others felt the gas in their eyes; we all started running in a backward direction. A tumult of shouting and screaming was new to me; it brought an agitated trouble in the atmosphere. Coming to senses, I realized that it was too late for me to go home; I did not know how to face my parents who would count even minutes for late coming. Discipline was always liability and I expected a severe punishment for the act of bunking out the college and joining the procession. Parents, in the past were vigilant enough about the activities of their children; my father already knew the reasons for my late coming. To my surprise, he looked more concerned about my safety, my swollen eyes, wet clothes and burqa, dipped in the mud; the two black pieces of shelter and disguise with more Afghan influences than Arab connections that saved me from the wrath of our college principal, next morning.

 In politics, there are number of good and bad motives that encourage students to get involved. People concerned with education are in a dilemma; parents confused. It is a sensitive issue, whether the students should be encouraged to drop the book, pick up the stone and embrace a gun!?  Can teaching and politics coexist and how much political breathing space is too much for our students? Genuine Political awareness is necessary; it is different than playing in the hands of politicians on roads. Before they expose their children to life threatening situations, it is highly advisable for parents to differentiate between good and bad politics. The very recently coincided events concerning student union politics at Delhi University and Jawahar Lal University reflect clearly the younger generation’s political language, motives and aspirations but the situation in Kashmir is different. Politics has already left the educational institutions and is on roads now. Had the students been given a space to voice their political opinions, the story would have been different. For youth, job is not a priority anymore, listening to their political grievances carries more value than providing jobs to them. Unfortunately, voices here are not heard but made silent. Eventually, the stress syndrome has become so strong due to the callous attitude of people in command that younger generation has stopped caring for life in a situation where “death is sure to intervene every day.” 

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