Drabu Lashes Out At Hartal, Boycott Policy

14 June 2014
Rising Kashmir
Junaid Kathju

Srinagar: Eminent economist, Dr Haseeb Drabu, Saturday criticized the hartal and boycott policy of separatist leadership saying these means of protest were only hurting the economy of Kashmir. 'Today the political movement in Kashmir is not a 'Kashmiri nationalist movement'. There is need to re-invent the political movement, which would bring about a change and benefit the people of Kashmir,' Drabu said while addressing a seminar, 'Kashmiri Youth: Anxieties and Aspirations' organized by Lehar, a non-political NGO here. He said he fails to understand the notion of hartals and boycotts. 'We should understand whom are we boycotting and what have we achieved through hartals and who is observing it. Through these hartals, you are only exhibiting your control over the Kashmiri population that has very little choice anyway'. However, Drabu, a former J&K Bank chairman, said the protest organized in the form of Hakeekat-e-Kashmir during Zubin Mehta's concert in Srinagar last year was a highly creative protest. 'The Hakeekat-e-Kashmir concert organized simultaneously with Zubin Mehta concert focused the attention of the entire country on the real problems of Kashmir,' he said. Underscoring the need of political engagement and empowerment of youth for shaping the future of the State, Drabu said, 'It is the youth of Kashmir, who need to decide his or her future. We have youth, who are educated but not politically engaged and empowered. No nation can prosper unless its youth are politically empowered, socially responsible, ethically aware and economically independent citizens'. 'Jammu and Kashmir is the only place, where our aspirations have become our anxieties. Why is it that our individual and social aspirations do not match? In discussing our anxieties and aspirations, we have lost many generations,' he said. Terming article 370 a non-issue, Drabu said, 'There was a large hue and cry over the Article 370, granting special status to J&K, recently. The identity of a Kashmiris is because of their ethnicity and not because of the Article 370.' 'We have to move out of the politics of grudge. We have been the greatest civilization in the world. Why are we losing our social, cultural, political and economic nationhood,' he questioned. The prominent civil society member, Shakeel Qalander in his address said instead of hartals, there should be other means of protests. 'Kashmir suffers a loss of Rs 100 crores on each strike day. We have to look for other ways and means like the parallel concert to Zubin Mehta musical concert last year, which was highly appreciated by people,' he said Qalander said that it is unfortunate that Government of India (GoI) never made the Kashmiris a part of their developmental trajectory particularly during the past three decades. 'We need to segregate political aspirations from the economic and social aspirations and should rather achieve them individually,' he said. Speaking on the occasion, Prof Gul Wani, Director, Centre of Kashmir Studies in Kashmir University, said that those who make peaceful revolutions impossible will make violent revolutions inevitable. He said it is logical for any society, which has gone through turmoil, to think about the aspirations and anxieties of its youth, who have remained at the forefront of its numerous struggles. 'Youth and their legitimate grievances are a subject matter of debate for policy makers and political leaders not only in Kashmir but in the entire south Asia. We cannot imagine a better South Asia without thinking seriously about youth and their position in the polity, economy and society,' he said. Meanwhile, former Vice-Chancellor of Islamic University of Science and Technology, Prof Sidiq Wahid said the youth in Kashmir lack opportunities and there is a need to take pragmatic steps for their future. 'We should stop re-employing retired officials because we are not giving opportunities to our youth then,' he said. Rajni Shaleen Chopra, Director of NGO Lehar, said the social contact between the Kashmir youth and the policy makers is of prime importance now. 'This contract can be possible in a society which is resilient and committed to justice. On the positive side, there is rise of an assertive civil society and vibrant mass media, which can be helpful in rebuilding society and other institutions,' she said.