Ever since the BJP’s Lok Sabha victory in May last year, the term ‘Saffronization’ has been increasingly bandied about in the context of the growing influence of the Hindu-right in India. Dismayed by this association, Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani urged members of the ASGDMCA (All Saffron Growers Development Marketing Cooperative Association) to diversify into cannabis, a crop that has traditionally been closely associated with the cult of Shiva.
In an emotive plea to attendees of the association’s annual meet earlier this month, Geelani claimed that “everywhere in the world, insidious efforts are being undertaken to socially and culturally undermine the Islamic and Kashmiri causes by parties adverse to them. Saffron is the most immediate example of this process: we have been growing saffron for the better part of a thousand years and there are numerous historic texts that attest to the Kashmiri provenance of saffron. However, if you were to ask anyone today what came to their minds upon hearing the word saffron, the answer would inevitably be Hinduism. I fear that the day is not far when the vegetarian agenda of Hindutva elements gains sufficient traction to lead to an re-equation of green with vegetables rather than with Islam.”
Justifying his advocacy to move away from growing saffron, Geelani suggested cannabis cultivation as an alternative with far superior profitability. “Growing cannabis is likely to offer a multitude of benefits to the overall Kashmiri cause. One, it will bring in an overabundance of untraceable (black) money that can be effectively utilized to fund the separatist movement. Two, when marketed to the correct end-users it will have the desired effect of dumbing down the antagonistic Hindu masses. Thirdly, just as the Hindus have surreptitiously undermined many of our socio-cultural memes, claiming cannabis for Kashmir will be stealing an important Shaivite meme from them. Lastly, this will also strike an enormous blow to agents of Zion, that other great enemy of Islam, who currently almost exclusively control the entire supply-chain of cannabis from cultivation and processing to distribution and marketing.”
Closing his speech with a vision, Geelani proclaimed “I yearn for the day when the saffron-less zaffrani pulav turns to ashes in the munchies-stricken mouths of the multitudes of Hindu youth stoned out of their skulls on weed grown by us.”