It is more than two decades since Syed Ali Shah Geelani started the moderate struggle against the Indian occupation of Kashmir. However, he (along with his companions in Shah, Malik and Umar) haven’t been able to persuade Indian government towards a conclusive dialogue or a sustainable solution to the Kashmir issue.
Time taken to be the factor, his sheen as a leader for the cause isn’t charred and his charm can be found as vital as Gandhi’s as the latter won the nation her freedom after the rigorous struggle by Gandhi spanning the long years between 1915 and 1947.
Comparing a leader of the International repute like Gandhi with a regional leader like Geelani may not be among the prescriptions of a trained political doctor but the situation is so compelling that it makes the pen run on its own. In fact it is inevitable.
We have to rise higher above the horizons of religion and regionalism to draw a comparison between the two leaders for both of them had a similar cause to stimulate the hearts of the people, if not the same.
Gandhi’s fight was against a more powerful nation, the British….believing in the expansionist ideology and the unending colonisation of the area they encountered. Geelani’s struggle is against a nation which has a respectful past of not invading any sovereign nation in the past. And the fact, the union of this princely state to India was a result of the consent of the state administration in 1947, weakens Geelani’s- struggle.
One of the important features of Gandhi’s struggle was the novelty in approach. His experiments may not have been new to the Europeans but for the people in the subcontinent, they were. Whatever he did was taken as a divinely order and proved to be considerably effective most of the times.
His experiments viz Civil Disobedience, Quit India, Non-cooperation and Swadeshi sculptured his figure as strong as the American Lincoln and the African Nelson. He called for bundhs and the public responded positively and passionately; taken by the youth and the old, professionals and the labourers, men and women alike. Geelani is perhaps lacking that kind of innovative approach and is thus content with using the only weapon….the hartaal, which is losing its relevance and is reduced to an ironic formality by now.
What added to the dynamicity of Gandhi as a leader was his social affinity. Apart from being a politician, he was a good social reformer. In fact, he spent a large period of his life rejuvenating the culture and divulging Indians from the evils like untouchability. He tried his utmost to eradicate certain social evils from the society during the period he was absconding from the scene of active politics. Geelani, on the other hand, lacks this kind of multi-dimensional approach.
As far as the clarity of the vision of the freedom is concerned, Gandhi gets 10 on 10 as against Geelani’s lesser score. The former was in favour of FREE INDIA. He tried to unite Indians irrespective of their working class, caste, age or religion. That is why; he was the people’s leader and not the leader of any particular community. So, his commands were followed unanimously by Indians breaking the barriers of communalism.
In comparison, Geelani seems to be biased towards Muslim community. His message is restricted to this particular community and consequently, he is not revered in the non-Muslim dominated regions like Jammu. He is yet to clear whether his struggle is religious or political.
Gandhi always led from the front and involved himself in the bundhs, marches, hunger-strikes and satyagrahas, all that what Geelani lacks. Talking the talk is not enough as they say. You need to walk the walk.
While discussing Gandhian personality, talking about his simplicity is icing on the cake. After assuming the role of a mass leader, he preferred the traditional dhoti over the western style. He always preached to demolish the borders between the physical and mental labour and his personality signified it.
Gandhi being out of the physical world and having been achieved his goal of free India needs not to learn from the leaders of the current times but the vice versa is true. Geelani can learn a lot from the way Gandhi fought against foreign rule and he should.
By: Aarif Qadir [Source: The Hellish Paradise, Aarif Qadir (Under Publication)]
Also See: Geelani Barks Again
Image Source: Geelani