By Stuti Govil
Basharat, without falling prey to the rather inexplicable world of ad hominem, I’d like to say that your arguments in your piece, “They Brought Harud To My Voice” published by Countercurrent.org definitely seems in response to Fahad Shah’s article “Harud Gov Saridd” are mostly reductive reasoning. They are based on your individual opportunistic approach towards events like such. Leaving the focus of the bigger consequences of how such events are used to change the discourse of conflict nations.
I agree with you, the literature of Kashmir is beautiful. It needs more readers. After decades of these voices being throttled by various forces, we get to listen to, read and be enamoured with them. It’s a beautiful, symbiotic process. But you have been arguing one side of the story which is “your opportunity”.
Not just one that inflicts such pain on the reader that it might be impossible to forget, but also the almost poignant writing, that exemplifies humanism and naturalistic writing.
Of course we need a literary fest to present an arena for these diverse voices to make themselves heard, once again, and then again. And not just of those writers who have been noticed by mainstream Indian press.
However, that doesn’t mean we survive on tokenism. Their version of a literature fest is almost defensive. It is not transparent and it makes some blatantly horrible remarks to any kind of critique. When you initiate a forum for debate and discussion, it is a must that you yourself open yourself to being questioned, and respond adequately.
I, personally, did not wish for the cancellation of the fest. However, it did go on to prove that there was something remarkably fishy about this whole endeavour. The organisers (who I otherwise hold in great esteem) are people who harbour voices of dissent and always acknowledge them. What went wrong here? Was it not their own insecurity, showing somewhere?
No fest that talks about Kashmir can be apolitical. We all know that. The organisers had the option to apologise for this, and perhaps even offer their own comment. Their denial to do so reflects a rather stilted process. Having said this, what I find so deeply disturbing is your (and definitely many others’) reaction to this cancellation. It is not an infringement on freedom of speech and expression. To the contrary, I would say.
Why is it that we never wish to hear alternative voices? Why do they bother us so?
Also, this rhetoric of ‘with us or against us’ is particularly dangerous, as we have seen in the Anna Hazare-Kejriwal led debacle. All of us who signed that letter of protest believe in the fundamental cause of getting Kashmir’s voice through to many others. All of us. This decision to question is motivated only by the love for Kashmir’s literature. The way you have been arguing against those voices who have protested the festival is naive. I would say it needs an intellectually sane voice to debate such issues, seems you are way far away from that, and it seems you are arguing the issues on some points which are very lesser than the issue of Kashmir. An opportunity for an individual can’t be larger than the cause of the entire nation.
Stuti Govil is studying Journalism in University of Delhi.