Now Reading
Administrator’s Activism

Administrator’s Activism

In 2019, the administrator’s 2008 activism came to haunt him. But the pen-pusher did what the pen-pusher does. He put up a face and sealed the fate.


Fresh dossier had come. Some ten boys had been mentioned and marked as “threat to peace”. As District Magistrate, it was his first posting. He was excited — after all, it was a coveted post. But starting the new office by signing a draconian act like Public Safety Act was perhaps the last thing he ever wanted.

But that summer 2019 was to change and challenge everything. He knew Kashmir throws surprises. He was up for it — but not the way it turned out to be. Before signing his first PSA case, he had a different take on things.

11 years ago…

One fresh college-goer was at the heart of campus rage. Inside historic SP College’s now withered Chinars, he was addressing a swarm of students. Amaranth land agitation had already hit the valley. Some dissenters including young boys were booked under PSA and thrown into detention centres. The development hadn’t gone well with the boy and his livid bunch. 

“The fact is,” he thundered to his captive audience, “laws like PSA have been long abused to bully us.” He paused after one of his mates swung into a manic cycle of slogans. The campus reverberated with injustice and emancipation slogans. Soon a rally came out of the gates of that college culminating at Srinagar’s Press Enclave.

Support Our Journalism

You are reading this because you value quality and serious journalism.

But, serious journalism needs serious support. We need readers like you to support us and pay for making quality and independent journalism more vibrant.

The boy—the bandmaster of brouhaha—was never done with a single march. At every seminar, at every talk show, at every gathering, he would spread the word. The word was: democracy is all about recognising someone’s rights rather than curbing them under acts like PSA. 

When talks failed to yield desired results, he resorted to more creative ways to spread the word. He became a blogger — the trend those days, even engaging unionists like Omar Abdullah and his onetime lieutenant bragging over his Kashmir insights. He wrote about history, about human rights, about aspirations, about insurgency, about…

He felt vindicated. His tribe grew. The message multiplied. And the awareness of post-colonial strife started spreading. It was a collective catharsis of the class facing the treacherous treatment. Those in power would mock at this online illuminates: “Keep whipping dead horse — but know something, the business is long finished.” 

The boy would blast such trash talkers and teach them lessons on reality. But it didn’t take him much time to realise that the word reality is relative. Everyone had their own reality shaped up by family background, values, education, upbringing and most importantly, exposure to strife. Those immune to abuses had a different take on things. They still have. 

He eventually quitted blogging. Something was getting on his nerves. No matter how hard he tried to present the obvious and clear the facts, he found it hard to counter their propaganda. It wasn’t as simple as he thought it would be. It was a highly complex project aimed at creating self-doubts, like the one he encountered when he joined the university for his Masters.

By then, he had grown silent — a disturbingly silent. His passionate pals thought he was having a heaving-heart moment. His silence compounded with his reticence making him a chronic case of smitten love. He smiled at their silly assumptions. But his brooding persona made him popular among the guys who were running a banned campus body — KUSU. 

The campus authorities had banned it, citing its political affiliations. The members would argue that it was like giving a dog a bad name before hanging him.

While strolling on the campus one day, he saw a gathering of the banned body castigating the chancellor for military endowment. “We’ll resist this Sadbhavnisation of Varsity,” he heard a boy sporting a long hairdo and beard as saying. He broke into a smile. He just couldn’t take that smile from his face until the pestered speaker yelled at him, “Is something funny going on here, huh?” 

“Not funny, but I found your take quite amusing.” 

“What do you mean?”

Advertisement

Advertisement

“Well, I mean — let’s move beyond this Sadhbhavnisation rant. Your campus head is his master’s voice. And by the way, why do you think they’re taking us for those tours every now and then?”

“I believe, tours are part of extra-curricular activities.”

“What a pity! You address these select few people here who’ve been filtered from thousands of applicants every year and made it to the campus. So, in a way, you’re addressing some finest brains with your little knowledge. They deserve better. Next time, you address them again, move beyond the obvious.” 

With that smiling face, he walked away, leaving the speaker and his audience in a somewhat awed state of mind. 

See Also

But being a clear-minded individual in a place where politics ran amok was not so easy. Some self-doubts were to be cropped up very shortly. And when they did, he could smile no more.

He volunteered for a program meant to tap the talents of students. It was an exciting opportunity for him to do something constructive. There was nothing rhetorical about it. It was pure love of labour. But days later, he was repenting over his decision. He found the campus indeed very complex. What was supposed to be a purely academic affair had strong backing from movers and shakers. 

The program was aimed at giving a certain direction to the youth. Those who had conceived the program were of the view: engage them. And when some 10 odd student organisers were taken to meet a certain minister, he and his tribe rebelled. They threatened to leak certain uncomfortable details to the press. Sensing the trouble, the campus coordinator called the disgruntled boys and girls for a head-on meeting. 

“Look, I know what you people are up to, but trust me when I tell you this, I will make sure to rot your careers if you remain adamant on your protest thing!”

“I believe we were called here to get some logical explanation of certain undesired developments, but you’re threatening us instead. It’s preposterous!”

“Trust me, son, I won’t let you get carried away with your delusional activism on my campus. Understand something, you’re here to study and score well. Rest is none of your business.” 

“So, sending some opportunists among us to meet that minister is a new normal of this campus now? Do we need to tell you how the same minister is responsible for our miseries? Do you want us to make peace with that fact as well? We’re thinking individuals, not their master’s voice. Thank you for meeting and enlightening us. Goodbye!” 

In the following days, the exams were announced and everything went as if everything was hunky-dory on the campus. He got his degree and stepped out of the campus. The world outside was different and demanding. Idealists were mocked, while realists were hailed as sunshine entrepreneurs. He was now an unemployed youth — a burden for his family, a loser for his love, and a struggler for his self.

A certain poster boy who had topped the bureaucratic exam amid street chaos became his restive year’s muse. He heard him quoting that scientist-president’s “billion-mind” strength power and the difference it can create. He began his bureaucratic journey with the same resolve. It was to create a difference in his homeland where natives were becoming a rare species in administrative posts.

Years later, the resolve would materialise with his selection. And then came the day when as district magistrate he was staring at the dossier. 

In 2019, the administrator’s 2008 activism came to haunt him. But the pen-pusher did what the pen-pusher does. He put up a face and sealed the fate.

Mountain Ink is now on Telegram. Subscribe here.

Become Our Ally

To help us strengthen the tradition of quality reading and writing, we need allies like YOU. Subscribe to us.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2019-2021 Mountain Ink. All Rights Reserved.

Scroll To Top