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But spare us your historic interventions; Neem Akhtar petitions Omar Abdullah



Militancy apart from other huge fallout caused a deep impact on the folklore of Kashmir that has an unrivalled ability to laugh at itself. Apart from the entire range of new terms that found 'state subject status' in Kashmiri language like the Miltan, crackdon, baanker, soyath, titchh, kaak, naabdi etc a wide range of  humour, some black, was spawned.
One such joke aptly defines the usually 'historic' interventions of this government to address issues facing the people- mostly to establish its existence than following some plan.
It is said a boy who during the initial Pindi chalo rush got a gun and on return went into hiding in a village. He used to enjoy the hospitality of the host and do little else. He would not even venture out of the house, much less go into Azadi action. One day the host in a taunting way told him 'kyoho gobra cte chhukh sirif battah kheyvaan te karaan kravaan chhukh ne kihin' ( son you just eat and do nothing else) . Taking the challenge to heart the boy immediately went out and emptied his magazine in air. Obviously the security forces could not ignore the source of shooting. Immediately the village was cordoned and crack downed. The boy somehow managed to survive but the village had to face the ire. In the evening he reappeared at his hide out to meet a remorseful host whose innocent taunt had resulted in agony for the village. Patronisingly, he told the boy ' gobra cte aas sirif batteh kheyvaan te aaram karan, baqi meshraav, waleh thav yi Bondook dedi nish'. ( son, you just eat and please don't do anything else. Give this gun and keep it with the lady of the house).
If one considers the performance of present government in its four years, one would feel comfortable without those initiatives that government hand outs always describe as historic, whether it is opening up a branch of a bank in a village for appointing a chowkidar and sweeper or discontinuing J&K Bank as the state banker in favour of the RBI to strengthen the Delhi lifeline.
While one can count a hundred such initiatives it should suffice to cite only a few. The skewed bridge that is going to be as skewed as the political trajectory of the National Conference is supposed to take care of the maddening traffic congestion of Srinagar. But apart from killing the romance of the Bund Srinagar it is creating permanent obstruction to traffic at the points where the flow now is free. (mind my young friends who live much after me, the bridge will make traffic impossible in the city) Generations will rue this bridge except the 'lal battis' assured a free run on roads as a result of the janam janam ka political compromise. And meanwhile, traffic at Pantchhokh, Parimpore, Jehangir Chowk, Karan Nagar, Rambagh continues to go from bad to worse as the skewed bridge helps the rising star of NC from Rajbagh with some property commercialisation and value addition.
Omar Abdullah government is bringing in what in science is called a chemical change, irreversible, wherever it touches an issue. The latest victim is the open space created by the gutting of the tourist reception centre in the capital. The whole area has been converted into a virtual taxi stand with two huge buildings thrown in between.
Tehzeeb Mahal may be a good concept but look at the place it is constructed. It is going to be more congested than the Maharaji Bazar. And in doing so the Omar government has overruled the very sound suggestion of housing it in the Rajgarh complex which would eminently qualify for it and also be retrieved as a monument to an important genre of architecture that the Dogra rulers brought to Kashmir while blending local art forms with it. Meanwhile the new museum constructed by the previous government as a project personally guided by Ghulam Nabi Azad continues to be inoperational even in the fifth year year of its construction. The old Tagore Hall is in unsuccessful renovation for nearly four years, for want of funds, as today's news reports suggest. The Mughal monument, the Naagar Nagar wall called Kalai is falling apart as a result of government intervention allegedly in the name of its conservation. The destroyer in chief  of Kashmir's link with its glorious built heritage, a minister, is meanwhile overseeing another demolition- this time of a 300 year old Khanqah at Naqshband saheb. It was shocking to see its wall demolished for some insane plan of expansion currently under execution. Paying obeisance or offering Nimaz at the shrine is nothing less than a torment for emotional fools like me as I found the other day.
As it is Srinagar is already reduced to a transit point for bulk of tourists visiting the valley. Most of them stop over on way from or to Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Amarnath because this city does no more have the carrying capacity for its own burgeoning population, the migrants from villages, the officials during the summer and the multitudes coming here as tourists. How does this government respond to the humongous civic needs and urbanisation pressures. Not by looking at dispersal of facilities but through a reversal of any effort made so far. The 'PDP TRC' at Nowgam is sought to be neutralised by another at the original place. The 'Azad made museum' is getting an anti dote through the Tehzeeb mahal. No issues as long as this government has money to throw away at its favourite construction agents but what chaos it brings in the process is to be suffered by the common citizen like you and me. (by the way TRC is an outdated concept in the era of e bookings, airport pick ups and travel agent conducted tours).
While on the subject of Tehzeeb mahal, the function organised to lay the foundation stone for it was marked by some thing that stands out as a crass negation of our own and the literary Tehzeeb of the country. The only Gyanpeeth awardee Kashmir ever achieved, and they are not born everyday, was seated among the NC workers in the audience and 'honoured' by assigning him the duty of presenting a vote of thanks to the likes of Omar Abdullah, Raman Bhalla, Sajad Kitchloo and Nasir Aslam Wani. In any other part of the world the roles would have been reversed, a chief minister thanking a Gyanpeeth awardee for having laid the foundation stone, with Bhallas, Kichloos and Wanis not even making it to the audience, much less adorning the dais to preach culture to a Rehman Rahi. ( I am extremely angry with Rehman Rahi Saheb for having let his dignity compromised and breaking the hearts of his countless fans like me by accepting a duty that NC has historically assigned to a Rehman Sodagaar.) That sad and painful episode however gives an idea about how much thought would have gone into the construction of a Tehzeeb Mahal as a virtual extension of city's main taxi stand.
Take any other sector and you will find increasing merit in the advice to the young militant of 1990. Whether it is his intervention last year in ensuring 'home delivery' of cooking gas or the crack down on coaching centres, ban on private practice of doctors in fits and starts or the hardening of stances over AFSPA every time Omar announced or later pleaded for its revocation the results have been opposite. The 'historic intervention' on power front has taken us back to dark ages and the pompous announcement of establishing a 'transformer bank' was followed up with a ban on installation of new '. People have been on the receiving end in each case.
The wisdom of militant's host gained the hard way, should therefore propel the subjects of Omar Abdullah to beseech him to stay away from 'action'. He could indeed continue riding his Rs 1 crore, plus- minus, Audis, Range rovers, have holidays and branded life style, enjoy state hospitality but spare the state his historic interventions. And, tweet!

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Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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