Police, Politicians and Politicking
Politicians Remaining Absent From Scene Has Given A Chance To Police To Take A Lead Role; Politicians Are Themselves To Blame For It
PUBLIC SPACE BY JAVAID MALIK
Jammu and Kashmir Police getting politicized seems to have created a sense of insecurity among the politicians, specially the ones from mainstream parties. Recently they expressed concern over police and forces asserting themselves as the political voices rather than upholders of law of the land.
This year passing off peacefully has provided lot of space to the mainstream politicians and they have been bit visible. From 2008 to 2010 when Kashmir witnessed massive protests and unrest, mainstream politicians had almost become irrelevant as pro-freedom leaders and top police officers were calling the shots.
Since the day National Conference led government came into power after 2008 elections, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, has been caught in controversies but he has put up a brave face and bore all the brunt. Senior NC and Congress leaders, including ministers, have been missing from the scene constantly. They pretend as if they are too busy managing the state affairs, but the ground realities contradict their claims. People quite often allege that they have not seen their “elected representatives” since they won the polls.
People who blame police and other forces for indulging in politicking need to realize that they are the ones who provided them a chance to come forward and indulge in politicking. Had politicians not kept themselves confined within four walls when Kashmir was burning no this would not have happened. Aren’t they themselves responsible for police taking a lead role?
No mainstream politician barring a few, including the president of Peoples Democratic Party, Mehbooba Mufti, had the guts to face the people when they were outraged and tempers were running high. Mehbooba in 2009 visited Shopain in south Kashmir to express solidarity with the affected family. The incident had sent shockwaves across the Valley and none of the mainstream politicians wanted to visit the “danger zone”, but Mehbooba mustered courage and reached there. She faced wrath of people but she refused to relent.
In 2010 when unrest was at peak most politicians, including opposition leaders, preferred to stay in oblivion and adopted the policy of wait and watch. Police and paramilitary CRPF men were guarding the streets and fighting pitched battles with angry youth. Nearly 120 youth fell to the bullets of government forces and Chief Minister was left alone to explain what was happening. Some people were working overtime to ensure that Omar is shown the door, but he survived one of the toughest periods in the history of Kashmir. Omar was criticized and castigated and nothing seemed to be going right for him, but one credit goes to him that he never gave up and stood firm on his ground.
Years 2008, 2009 and 2010 provided ample opportunity to forces to come forward and play a vital role to establish law and order in Kashmir, where pro-freedom slogans, marches and protests had become order of the day. Both centre and the state governments relied on force personnel to ensure that youth on street are pacified and the rebellion is crushed. The only visible face of the government was the cops and force personnel. No attempt was made at a local level to look for a political solution. Kashmir based mainstream politicians were sitting on the fence while Jammu based politicians were busy diverting funds towards their own constituencies. It was police everywhere in Kashmir. After 2010 unrest waned, it was police which again took a lead role. Many youth were put behind bars to ensure that unrest ends. Top police officers in later stages of 2010 and early months of 2011 rushed to various areas to make youth understand that stone pelting won’t take them anywhere. Massive police recruitment drives in sensitive areas of old city in Srinagar, Baramulla in north Kashmir, Islamabad (Anantnag) in south Kashmir and other places provided police officers a chance to come closer to disgruntled youth. Holding recruitment drives proved to be a master stroke. One wonders where these politicians were hiding when Police was trying to bridge the gap. Wasn’t this their (politicians’) duty to reach out to the bruised people? Did they try reaching out to them?
Police took care of urban areas while army became hyperactive in rural areas. Army in 2011 had the distinction of holding most Iftaar parties in far flung areas of the Valley. Local army commanders invited commoners to these parties and tried to sort out the differences it had with local populace.
Politicians during past four years have depended heavily on police and other forces to hold on to their fort. Forces through batons and bullets have established the writ of the government, simultaneously they have tried reaching out to the people by holding various activities like sports events, get-togethers and recruitment drives. On the other hand the leaders of ruling party have preferred to stay away from masses to ensure that they remain busy in their own world.
Omar had appointed his close confident Nasir Aslam Wani as Minister of State for Home, he too has remained absent from the scene and has left field open for top police officers to indulge in politicking. Severe restrictions were imposed in Srinagar to prevent mourners from taking out Muharram processions. On 8th Muharram (December 4) many mourners were injured in police action when they tried to foil the restrictions. Incidentally two areas of Amira Kadal constituency, which Wani represents in Legislative Assembly, witnessed massive restrictions on 8th and 10th Muharram, but he remained tightlipped about the issue and didn’t even bother to issue a statement why restrictions were put in place. Instead Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda told reporters in Jammu that restrictions were put in place as “precautionary measure” but he didn’t elaborate how could have Muharram procession posed a threat to peace.
It is high time for politicians to realize that Kashmiris are not a herd of “dumb driven cattle” and they owe an explanation to them. If they keep on ignoring their own people, police and army will continue to rule the roost and politicians will slowly lose their relevance.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 8 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 8 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 9 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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