Blood soaked Eid
To break a beautiful convention set by the Kashmiris themselves, of not allowing Eid to be marred by violence, is sad and highly regrettable
GUEST COLUMN----SEEMA MUSTAFA
It was a Eid that many in Jammu and Kashmir would like to forget, and a festival that once again failed to inspire the government of India to rise above itself.
People deserve better than what the current leadership is able to provide. Far, far better. And the problem in Kashmir is the absence of a statesman, a person with credibility, a person who has his ear firmly trained to the ground, a person who speaks for the people and not for power, a person who does not manipulate peoples' sentiments, a person who is honest and courageous, a person who has a vision and is prepared to steer the rough and tough route towards a goal that can bring back justice and peace to the Valley. A person who is looking for the welfare of his people, and not of himself. And one must add here that the demand is for not a person, but persons.
A tall order. Perhaps, but crisis does create leadership and hope should never die. Having said that let's explore what happened on Eid in Jammu and Kashmir and how the so called leadership at all levels let down the people. Lets start with the central government that let go of yet another opportunity to address the people. Caught in internal wrangling, and hard line views, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was unable to come through with an announcement that could have helped ensure a peaceful Eid. The Cabinet met and argued, the Cabinet Committee for Security did not meet as key ministers decided other matters were more important at this stage than Jammu and Kashmir and were not available for an Eid eve meeting. The result was yet another highly avoidable postponement with the result that the opportunity provided by Eid has gone.
What was the issue? Withdrawal of the Armed Special Powers Act from the state that had ministries and ministers squabbling. A solution that could have worked, centering around the withdrawal of the Disturbed Areas Act that alone gives teeth to AFSPA, had been proposed, was being discussed, but then there are many in the Union Cabinet who do not want a solution of any kind in Kashmir. And made sure that the crucial CCS was not held in time. AFSPA works only if an area is declared Disturbed, and if the Disturbed Areas Act is withdrawn altogether as was one of the main proposals, AFSPA itself would become non effective in Jammu and Kashmir. This was proposed to prevent similar demands from being raised in the north east, and to ensure that the Army’s views were not completely set aside. The other proposal under active consideration was also the withdrawal of AFSPA in a phased manner from specific districts. All this along with the release of the young people arrested in recent months could have worked to open a dialogue for the settlement of the Kashmir issue.
But it was not done. And now the violence in the state is being used by those opposed to any solution, to convince the Prime Minister that the time for any such announcements is over. And that it is first necessary to restore peace, and not to give ‘concessions.’ The poor Prime Minister bound by his Cabinet and the Party can do so much and no more. It happened exactly the same as was apprehended. CCS did not even consider the package aimed at restoring at least momentary peace, but what further security measures are required to control the protestors and the people.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah also failed to push the cabinet into action, and to convince his people that this time at least some of their concerns would be addressed. His and his father's disinterest is becoming rather apparent, and although Omar is far more responsible than Farooq Abdullah when it comes to the state, that is actually not saying very much. Given the fact that the anger in the Valley had not subsided, that it was still simmering, it is strange that instead of using Eid aggressively through contact and political campaigns as a festival for peace, the chief minister surrendered the space completely to the separatists and left the Valley for celebrations in Delhi. This is just beyond comprehension as in all states of India the chief ministers celebrate major festivals with their constituencies and their people. Responsible Members of Parliament do the same, but of course there are many exceptions who prefer the comfort of Delhi.
Why did the National Conference not try and pre-empt the separatist leaders by holding huge campaigns for peace in the Valley. Why did the Peoples Democratic Party do the same? One presumes neither of them wants violence so why were they not on the ground, reaching out? There can be only two reasons. The leadership is completely indifferent and apathetic, or two, neither party has the credibility any longer to lead the people. Either is enough for both to retreat from the field, and for at least the ruling party to announce that it can no longer govern.
That brings one to the separatists. All of them, now following the lead given by the people. Those leading the religious congregation should have ensured, for the sake of the people, that it did not turn violent. I know there are many in Kashmir who will write me angry letters saying how can the people's genuine emotions be suppressed but they should know that there is always a time and a place. Violence is actually never the answer. But that's a different debate. To break a beautiful convention set by the Kashmiris themselves, of not allowing Eid to be marred by violence, is sad and highly regrettable. It is one occasion that is for peace and compassion, and one does not think a single practicing Muslim will differ on this point. There can be no exceptional circumstances, and there is probably not a single woman in Jammu and Kashmir who wants this festival day to become uncertain and violent as well. The violence might have attracted publicity, and brought back fading personalities into the spotlights but the fact remains, the separatist leadership let down its people, yet again. The government, however, has complicated matters against Mirwaiz Omar Farooq. It must be remembered that of all the players in the field the Kashmiri separatists, fortunately or unfortunately, are closest to the sentiment prevailing on the streets.
The only innocents in this entirely tragic saga are the people themselves. They live off rumours, they get shot on the streets, their children go missing, they embrace causes they do not understand, they are manipulated by all the many vested interests, and what is perhaps most ironic they do not get even a penny of the wealth that is pouring into the state as dole from all sides. Their children remain unemployed are the frustration and anger and despair is driving them on to the streets and into the jails.
Wake up New Delhi. There are people in Jammu and Kashmir who live and breathe and die. It is not just a geographical spot on the map.
CCS did not even consider the package aimed at restoring at least momentary peace, but what further security measures are required to control the protestors and the people.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Sep 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Sep 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 Sep 2010 00:00:00 IST
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