Shedding tears on screen

Of Mustafa Kamal and the realities of Kashmir



The way Sheikh Mustafa Kamal was being grilled on the T.V. in the national news channels made me feel amused but at the same time I felt a bit sorry for the gentleman. He had made some statements in Kishtwar calling India an enemy of Kashmiris and he was trying to defend himself on T.V. before the pan Indian audience. He was not very good at defending himself. He is not as good a speaker as his father, not a good dramatist or actor like his elder brother in Delhi, not a handsome young and smart personality like his nephew who is at the helm of affairs in J&K.
There can be no doubt that he is enjoying the loaves and fishes of office under the benevolent indulgence of the government of India and therefore, it does not look nice if he criticizes India or its army. If New Delhi gets furious, he could lose his job and sedition charges also could be slapped on him. If he really wants to speak out his mind, fearlessly, like Mr. Kejriwal, Mrs. Kiran Bedi or Anna Hazare, or some of the Hurryiat leaders in Kashmir, he has to give up his position in government. The party to which he belongs has to cut off its links with the ruling party in Delhi. This would mean paying a very heavy price because then his brother and nephew will also lose their coveted jobs.
            So in future he should control his free speech. In any case there is nothing innovative in what he said. If Kashmiris had considered India as their friend, there would have been no Kashmir problem, there would have been no militancy, no war cry for 'azaadi', no demand for higher autonomy or pre-1953 position, no demand for self rule. It is only too well known that Kashmiris do not like the idea of being an integral part of India. Many of them could perhaps agree to be a loose part of the Indian federation, but for that the government of India would have to grant the Kashmiris a huge degree of autonomy as was envisaged by Dr. Farooq Abdullah in 2003. No state of India enjoys such a huge degree of autonomy and so the report sent by him to New Delhi was rejected summarily by the NDA government in Delhi. Even the Congress party, which was in the opposition at that time, commented that Shri Vajpayee must have given him too much of indulgence and this report was a result of that indulgence. The Congress party also disliked this idea of autonomy. Had they liked the idea they would have surely granted J&K (or at least the valley of Kashmir) some degree of autonomy. Eight years have passed after UPA came to power in Delhi, yet there was not a whisper of autonomy that was audible from New Delhi. When the secessionist forces let loose a terrible street agitation in Kashmir, the government in Delhi hurriedly formed a committee of interlocutors. As soon as the violence in Srinagar subsided, the report of the interlocutors was locked up in a heavy almirah in the Home Ministry and the report did not see the light of the day. It appeared to the Kashmiris that New Delhi had no good intentions -- and if they had started thinking "Delhi is not our enemy" -- such good thoughts must have evaporated fast
    Kashmiris must realise that for two solid reasons, New Delhi may never agree to their demands. The only way Delhi can be pressurised is by a show of strength in the Lok Sabha. The Kashmiris have only three seats in the Lok Sabha, ignoring the non Kashmiri seats of Ladakh and Jammu. This is woefully inadequate. One needs thirty seats, at least,to be in a bargaining position.
The second disadvantage which the Kashmiris have is that in the state assembly Kashmiris have limited strength with Kashmiris not mattering in thirty-five out of eighty seven seats. In around twenty-five seats the non Muslims are in a dominant position. In these seats the Kashmiri parties like NC and PDP have very little chance. Only parties like Congress, BJP or Panthers party would win . As a result, the state government cannot be formed without the help of core Indian parties like BJP or Congress. So even the state government cannot be in the hands of Kashmiris only.
      Since these are the realities of life, neither NC nor PDP can effectively highlight the demands of Kashmiris. The arrogant leaders in Delhi will always pooh pooh the genuine demands of the Kashmiris since these demands do not threaten their chairs. Shiekh Mustafa Kamaal will do well to remember these realities of life before shedding tears for Kashmiris.

(Amit Kushari (IAS Retd.) is former Financial Commissioner, J&K. Feedback to the author at 09748635185 or

Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 14 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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