Blast from the Past

Greater Kashmir / Greater Kashmir
Publish Date: Dec 10 2012 12:00PM

Was National Conference founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah a party to 1975 Accord between his party and New Delhi or not? Was the agreement a handiwork of Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg and G Parthasarthy, or an Indira-Sheikh Accord as it is popularly known?  The question should normally evoke little more than an academic interest.  The 1975 Accord for all practical purposes is a reality in our lives and has helped to a large extent shape the post 1975 history of the state. But the NC General Secretary Sheikh Nazir’s statement that Sheikh Abdullah was not a direct party to the Accord has created a room for contention where none seemed to exist. The statement has been rebutted by the main opposition party PDP which termed it as “inconceivable” that the Accord could have been only a handiwork of the late Beg without participation of Sheikh. Nazir has also been contradicted by his own party colleague Dr Mehboob Beg, who said that his father only acted as an emissary of Sheikh in the course of parleys with Parthasarthy.  However, Nazir’s statement has a dimension beyond the bitter political contestation over its historical veracity.  For, it underlines an ambivalence in NC towards the accord, a certain degree of guilt as it were. And it is this guilt that sometimes forces NC to distance itself from the Accord which at the time paved the way for its return to power following 23 years of struggle for the right to self-determination. There is more to it. Nazir’s statement also reflects how the shadow of past continues to loom over the present day Kashmir. NC may be a party in power in tight embrace with Congress but it prefers to contest its historical dealings with Centre. Some quarters of the party feel uncomfortable about a public perception of being seen unduly inclined towards New Delhi. This tells us something about a lingering fact about the state of affairs in the past, about something that makes it impossible for even the mainstream parties to move on with time.  And that something is that the past continues to be a major factor in Kashmir politics 37 years after 1975 Accord and the only way Kashmir will be ready to move on is when we honestly confront and come to grips with it.