Of Raj Bagh and Amira Kadal
“If you cant help them, at least don’t hurt them”
JUNAID AZIM MATTU
The prestigious Amira Kadal Constituency, popularly called the Lal Chowk Constituency, extends from the border of Budgam to Sonawar and from the edge of Pampore to the start of Dalgate on the other end. There is Nowgam, Humhama, Rawalpora, Parraypora, Hyderpora, Barzulla, Gang Bug, Solina, Gogji Bagh, Chinar Bagh, Lal Chowk, Court Road, Mehjoor Nagar, Ikhraj Pora, Wazir Bagh, Methan, Bagh-e-Mehtab, Chanpora, Natipora, Rambagh and besides various other areas, there is Raj Bagh.
However, in the eyes of the local elected representative, it appears the constituency starts in Raj Bagh and ends in, well, Raj Bagh. With Victorian wrought-iron lampposts, glitzy proposals of sports-complexes, smooth-topped roads, new drains and well-lit lanes, Raj Bagh looks beautiful. And I’m happy. I wish it gets even more development and ‘beautification’ – with somebody who has roots in Raj Bagh, I wish so from the bottom of my heart. However, I also wish that every area of Amira Kadal Constituency becomes as developed as Raj Bagh. Why not?
The paradox is glaring. The areas of Amira Kadal that witnessed a relatively higher voter turnout in 2008 – be it peripheral Rawal Pora, Mehjoor Nagar, Ikhrajpora, Kursu Rajbagh, Chanpora, Chinar Bagh or Gang Bug - stand unofficially yet comprehensively categorized as Class B areas, while as Raj Bagh, an elitist area of upper-class, blue-blooded families who would never be caught alive queued up outside a polling booth – has become the only Class A area in the entire constituency. Is it a coincidence that the local MLA lives/lived in Raj Bagh? Logic, I fear, says no.
Discriminating against other areas by having a personal bias towards the elitist, non-voting one circular kilometer stretch of Raj Bagh was one thing. One would understand the lack of accountability an MLA has to his constituents in being equitable and evenhanded, especially so in a constituency where the fate of around 80,000 constituents was decided by 3,000 odd voters after the same NC that swanks stentorian rhetoric about democracy enforced a tactical boycott in areas it was set to lose. So yes, one could understand the perceived uselessness in the eyes of the present elected representative of being equitable in governing the entire 80,000 voters who live in Amira Kadal.
However, what one fails to understand is the passion of vengeance with which the local MLA is going after people of other areas – either perhaps to bully them into obedience ahead of the coming elections OR to punish them for not voting for National Conference in 2008. First, SMC tries to bully the shopkeepers on the Airport Road on the Viceregal pretext of “beautifying” half the city as a driveway for the airport. The livelihoods of thousands of souls dependent on those small-time shops is a sacrifice the government, its local representative and the SMC were too eager to make to “beautify” the airport road. That, we couldn’t and didn’t allow.
Now, after failing to bully the traders on the Airport Road stretch, the wrath of the ‘invisible’ political hand has moved to Jawahar Nagar, as traders have been served legal notices threatening them with closure for violating the Master Plan, Land Use and building norms. The Maharaja left Kashmir but left three things behind – His courtiers disguised as the Sheikh Dynasty and his Razakaars and Darogas disguised as the institutions of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and the Srinagar Development Authority.
Go to any area of Amira Kadal Constituency and compare it with Raj Bagh. You wont have to go far. Compare Kursu Rajbagh and Ikhrajpora – the extensions of Raj Bagh – with the elite enclaves of Raj Bagh. Vote-bank politics is an aberration that comes with boycotts. However, the generally rural and peripheral pockets that vote in boycotts expect a payoff in terms of development, poverty alleviation and better governance. That’s the assumption. And that turns out to be the result. To the contrary, what has happened in Amira Kadal defies that assumption. Amira Kadal has been unofficially delimited into the Raj Bagh Constituency. What a slap on the faces of those who were considered disposable, vulnerable entities only to be entertained around election time.
Srinagar is the face of Jammu & Kashmir. And Amira Kadal is the face of Srinagar. Yes, the entire Amira Kadal Constituency – not just the one-kilometer elite enclave of Raj Bagh. And the people of Amira Kadal, like the people of the entire State, including Raj Bagh, deserve justice, equitable governance and evenhanded development. As Robert Kennedy once said – “We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge”.
(Junaid Azim Mattu is the Spokesperson of Peoples’ Conference. Views are personal)
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Jun 2013 00:00:00 IST
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