Him taking Army head on surprised many, even his own partymen
COMMENT BY JAVAID MALIK
The newly appointed chief spokesman of National Conference, Dr Mustafa Kamaal, taking Army head on created ripples not only in Jammu and Kashmir but New Delhi also.
Dr Kamaal, who is also the younger brother of National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah and uncle of the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, struck the hornet’s nest. After four grenade attacks, two in Srinagar and two in south Kashmir, shattered the “fragile peace” in the Valley, he appeared on New Delhi based news channels claiming that army could be behind these attacks to strengthen its stand on controversial Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA). However, the General Officer Commanding of Srinagar based Chinar Corps, Lieutenant General S A Hasnain rebuffed the claim saying, his (Kamaal’s) statement “is not even worth commenting upon.”
After Dr Kamaal claimed that revocation of AFSPA could expose the darker side of Army all the channels flashed the news. Within no time retired Army generals, commanders and others appeared everywhere castigating Dr Kamaal. “How can he blame the Army?” “It has played a commendable role in JK. He should tender an apology,” said one of the retired generals. He was of the opinion that whatever Army says about revocation of the AFSPA should be taken as the final word.
Despite NC and Chief Minister disowning the comments of Dr Kamaal, he remained undeterred. Reacting to the statement of Army Chief that Army was hurt by his remarks, he shot back saying, “I am hurt with their behaviour too. I am hurt with the incidents they have committed here. I have stories to tell, right from 1990, which keeps hurting my heart. Is it only the Army which has a heart and we don’t have a heart? If they feel hurt, I feel hurt too.”
“Has it never hurt us? It could be the circumstances that were there when situation came. People’s feelings were hurt. This is an issue which has hurt everybody. It’s not forgettable. Children were not spared, women were not spared,” he added.
Many Kashmiris for a moment couldn’t believe that a politician from a mainstream political party, that too a ruling party, was making such comments. Separatists quite often keep on giving such statements, but this is for the first time in past 20-years that a leader of any mainstream party has spoken so bluntly. Even the people who have been victims have never dared to utter a word.
One wonders what made Dr Kamaal so aggressive and how come he dared the forces operating in the state. His assertions have annoyed Congress, partner in the ruling coalition. Senior Congress leaders recently issued a statement asking NC to rein in Dr Kamaal. But it seems that Dr Kamaal has decided to take the bull by its horns. If he is given a chance he may speak his heart out. It is one of the rarest of rare cases. Dr Kamaal’s statement has come at a time when all the leaders in mainstream camp, no matter which party, are in no mood to annoy New Delhi; but it seems Dr Kamaal has decided otherwise.
His assertions can be a part of NC’s strategy to put up a brave face before the electorate or it can be an exercise aimed at regaining the confidence of the people which party has lost due to strikes, curfews, arrests and other things that happened in 2009 and 2010. Or it can be a move aimed at striking a deal with New Delhi as 2011 has almost passed off peacefully. Whatever, the fact remains that a politician from a mainstream party has struck a chord with people.
Time only will tell whether AFSPA would be revoked from any of the areas or not, but Dr Kamaal has driven home a point that a very few people from the mainstream camp could have ever dared to. May be his opponents call it a political stunt but the fact remains that it came at a time when it was most needed.
The tragedy of Kashmir during past 20 years has been that whenever something good is on cards, one thing or other happens which derails the entire process. Dr Kamaal did not blame Army only, he said that there are many people who want to keep the pot boiling. “Finger of suspicion points towards Army, but there are political parties or those people who set up their shops with the advent of militancy in Kashmir who could be responsible for the grenade attacks,” Dr Kamaal had said.
A common man believes that revoking AFSPA from Srinagar and Budgam districts in Valley would hardly make any difference as presence of Army in these areas is negligible. Soldiers in these areas remain confined to their barracks and are rarely seen on roads. Army on many occasions has claimed that there are no militants present in these two districts. If there are no militants to fight against then whom it wants to fight with AFSPA cover?
Dr Kamaal needs a pat on his back for being so “bold” and “courageous.” Let’s hope he sticks to his statements and becomes a role model for such mainstream politicians who really want to represent the aspirations of people. (Feedback...email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 29 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 30 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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