Condemnations are welcome. But do they serve the purpose?
Condemnations are welcome. But do they serve the purpose?
Bilal Ahmad Naik
On July 11 July 2017, I woke up to the squabble between Asha (name changed) and her mother-in-law in my neighborhood. It was getting louder and louder with the passage of time and more people from the family seemed to join this fracas of allegations and counter allegations.
It was not for the first time that the shrieking voices of these ladies had awakened me before the alarm could have done its job.
I gave my all ears to their arguing and realized that the cause of it, this time, was a novel one. I had never before heard the words like hash tag, profile pic, and Facebook being used prominently and loudly in a family dispute.
Out of curiosity, I opened the window of the room that faced the house of that family. As soon as I peeped out, a male member of the family spotted me watching the whole scenario live. It is not good to eavesdrop. In fact it is bad. Being caught doing it only makes it worse. Feeling ashamed, I tried to change my body gestures so that my spying on them does not seem a deliberate one.
Before I would have managed to do it, he said to me, “hey, please come here”. “Ok, but…..” I paused for a few moments and replied in a soft tone, “But why”? “You know these women folk of our family. They might have disturbed even you. Are you coming or not?” he said politely.
Feeling a little bit relieved, I scurried to reach there. It was a raucous ambiance. Witnessing a foreign element there the parties to this fracas cooled down to some extent. The charges that they hurled on each other did not stop. The tone changed and the level of their volume decreased.
All this had started with a tweet of Asha’s mother-in-law in which she had condemned the police’s action in a recent students` protest. She had used some harsh words for policemen in her tweet. This had infuriated Asha as her brother is a police constable and she had blocked her mother-in-law on Twitter.
It did not stop there. Starting from a tweet, it had travelled all along through Facebook before disturbing the peace of the family. Asha had changed her Facebook name to “princess”. It was the same name with which her mother-in-law appeared on Facebook.
Her mother-in-law accused her of copying her name and the condemnation seemed logical. Asha blamed her of using a name that did not suit her age and personality. Both came up with many other arguments that supported their stand. It was grueling to decide whose condemnation weighed more?
I had acquired the role of a judge by default and was finding it strenuous to carry forward the proceedings. The scope of the case had widened as the condemnations had also come from some neighbors and many netizens.
I somehow managed to adjourn the proceedings for next hearing. Amid this chaos and confusion, there was good news for me. Internet services had been restored in south Kashmir.
In this part of the world we don`t turn off the data connection on our cell phones. The concerned authorities do it for us. Some people even condemn this free service of the government. Here you even don`t have to opt between 2g, 3g and 4g services. The government officials curtail and enhance the speed of the internet on irregular intervals.
Internet services had been restored after a gap of four days. Being a Facebook addict, I was missing it and logged in quickly. “Condemn”, “condemnation” and “condemned” like words had overshadowed everything else there.
I could feel the pain this heart rending event had left on the whole humanity in general and people of the Valley in particular. The happiness over the restoration of the internet services was short spanned as usual.
The whole Valley had turned into a state of mourning and its imprints were evident on social media also. I called one of my virtual friends whose status read “I condemn Amarnath yatra”. He clarified that actually he wanted to condemn the attack on Amaranth yatris. It was a typo. He had updated it in a hurry because he did not want to miss the opportunity to condemn the attack.
I took some time to react. I remembered a friend who had recently condemned the killing of some policemen. It had lead to a lot of criticism from various sections of the society. In addition to the online condemnation that his post invited, he had to face social boycott in his locality. The situation turned ugly when his little brother condemned his stand. This resulted in a conflict between the two and they are not on speaking terms with each other till now.
Here, before condemning anything one has to make sure that he has enough reasons to validate his argument. Nevertheless, he can subject himself to trouble. Kashmir dispute has reached a stage where common man is a soft target and the most victimized one. This is not a war between two countries that is fought on borders or in a battle field. It has encroached into villages, streets and families.
The widening of gap between public and police has further aggravated the tension. One can presume the reason some people refrain from even condemning the killings. The events and reactions that followed the Amaranth yatra attack were altogether different from those that had followed the other distressing events in the recent past.
Contrary to the varied reactions to the civilian killings, killings of militants, policemen and the lynching of the DSP; this event was being condemned by one and all unanimously. From local to international level, from common man to politician, from militants to policemen, all denounced and condemned the killing of innocent people.
Condemnations are welcome. But do they serve the purpose? Condemnations have become the order of the day. With condemnation over one event not over, another such casualty unfolds that invites more condemnation and criticism. And the process goes on.
Phrases like “kari shabdoon mai ninda” and “strong condemnation” dominate the news items in print, electronic and social media. Our every other day starts with mourning and it ends in condemning. It is then followed by discussing, arguing and accusing each other.
Accusations are ensued by another span of violence. The domino effect of violence is killings and there comes another phase of mourning. This cycle continues. Politicians of every stream exploit it. But common people, who face the brunt of this cycle, find it difficult to get out of this vicious circle.
That family dispute was resolved on the next day because condemnations were followed by a peaceful dialogue. But who will bell the cat at the higher levels? Condemnation of a bad happening is nice but not an end in itself. It should be followed by measures to avoid such happenings in future and a strong commitment to adhere to those procedures. But as Jean Paul Sartre says, “Commitment is an act, not a word”.