It was a year of KICKS

Greater Kashmir

From Bollywood to J&K, it was a year of Kicks.  For those who know Kick as being only a forceful foot thrust, Salman Khan’s was about Adrenaline Rush. To his co-star, Jackline Fernandes, this Kick gives so much of unusual excitement that even Jhelum couldn’t stay immune to this fever till it Kicked Srinagar to the worst in September – Floods. Kick was in the air, on the ground, and on the tip of drooling tongues, which couldn’t even resist glorifying any Zaadays of abuse. No Ishq Zaaday, a Bharatiya Janta Party MP discovered her Kick in classification of some other Zaadays right inside the Parliament. If such abuses tend to give popular Kicks, then superstar Amitabh Bachan, also  a former MP, may soon go for a sequel of his Rishtay Mein Tao Hum Tumharay… with a change of title from Shahen-Shah to Amit Shah. I could be stupidly mixing tragedy of Kashmir floods with the superstar who says Daaru Penay Say… that too when Hyder should have been my regional preference, but then I am not PK!
 Shhh… the Kick of floods first: September sprung many surprises. One of them being; for a decent survival Kashmir doesn’t need a government.  Amid weeklong rainfall, Jhelum roared to see Valley deluged. But worst remained the city – Srinagar. From poor and posh colonies to the commercial hub called Lal Chowk to the Civil Secretariat, all drowned. Though most victims remerged alive, government didn’t. The then Chief Minister himself admitted that the government was even not on ventilator but all the way missing for 72 hours.
 But as if floods had to fetch suspense from some horror sequence Shhh Koi Hai that the concerned, particularly Irrigation and Flood Control Department pressed fingers on administrative lips till it was: Water, Water Everywhere, Government Nowhere! Thereafter with over 70,000 houses and equally big number of commercial establishments devastated in Srinagar, the losses in City remained more than the aggregate of other flood-hit districts.  Amid historic crisis, rescue and relief came either through people’s efforts or solar energy packets which ensured evaporation of flood waters. Though National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the  two shareholders of Srinagar Assembly seats, are yet to fight out on who air-dropped these energy packets, for ages, this invisible relief has one common name: Sunlight.
 As thousands struggled for survival, at least one lakh crores Rupees were needed for rehabilitation.  This was exactly when New Delhi planned its Kick for Kashmir, the Valley where Sultan Zain-ul-Abideen is remembered as Budshah, but now Amit Shah is welcomed as Padshah. BJP’s one word, seconded by PDP, dragged away attention from the “boring floods” to a new Adrenaline Rush: Elections. Though Prime Minister Narendra Bhai Modi spent his Diwali in Kashmir with flood-victims and the then CM Omar Abdullah almost pretending a victim, was all ears to this visiting dignitary, while flying back Modi sumptuously almost whispered into hungry Abdullah ears: Kana Mana Tooo! Within days of Modi’s visit, Assembly electioneering started Kicking.  PDP could have drawn reasons to this excitement from its May 16th  3:0 Parliament knockout of NC. Or it could be to hide the alleged misgivings of PDP MLA Javaid Mustafa Mir, who as per Omar, hindered Kandizal breach, and Srinagar devastated.
 But then Jhelum and Jammu Tawi floods apart, some parties witnessed flood of new entrants. The race for mandates remained equally so crude that some former scamster collie could have made it to the chair of Mantri for commodities, and a former encounter specialist could emerge heading the Home Ministry. But while results spoiled some dream sequences, party dissociations equally prevented movie-lovers from imagining sequel of Big B’s Inqilaab in the JK Assembly, a hung house.  The fractured mandate is badly looking ahead to some Healing, or Binding Touch, at least.
 The Tarangiri Theorem: The election results have given more of Algebraic problems than solutions promised to people with every primary class student testing his skills on 15 NC+ 12 C+ 28PDP = 25 BJP+ 28PDP. (Where PDP being the largest party, has emerged as Constant of Proportionally). Some like me, however, opine BJP-370+PDP=OK!  But, in the light of Tarangiri Theorem, an inspiration from Zarief Ahmed Zarief’s popular satirical poem, these equations are feared to anytime end up being multiplied by Zero on either or both sides. Anyone can do the legendary Do Aur Do Panch,  which synergizes my Taringiri Theorem!

PDP’s Aspirationalized Sensation
 Poll bugle awakened PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, again with an Adrenaline Rush. Invisible and inaudible during JK floods, like his daughter parliamentarian Mehbooba Mufti, this former CM went Kicking. An Aspirational Agenda, his manifesto was scrutinized as being sensational. Reasons: even the implementation of Apex Court directives on registration of pavement venders was listed in the manifesto alongside plans to seek civil society suggestions, the practice in vogue since 1947. From evaporation to condensation, the manifesto promised almost everything except an offer for two parts of Hydrogen and one of Oxygen: to be air-dropped, another hallmark of transparency for greenery!
 Though elections remained much like a Philmy pastry fight with everyone slapping creamy charges on each others’ freckled faces, distinct remained Mufti for keeping his statements BJP-acentric. Not a word did he speak against the party which either spoke Baap Beta or Baap Beti. The only exception remained Mufti’s Dec 5 speech at Pulwama when he hinted allegations at BJP. For now PDP is unwilling to call a BJP, a BJP. It’s equally unwilling to reject or accept Congress-NC proposals of support. At a time when post 9/11 alliances are driven by Being With Us or Against Us resolve, PDP prefers caution over Yes or No. The party is even indecisive on making its cadres silent, or talk on government formation, their democratic right. In an Almost-Shut Up whip to Muzaffar Hussain Beg and Tariq Hamed Karra, Mehbooba Mufti on December 27 said that the only spokesman Naeem Akhter could comment on alliance formation. This, however, highlights PDP’s “regional aspirations” as even their national spokesman was left politically mute. Within 2 days the Shut-Up whip was trending with all parties.
 For now Akhter is open to alliance with anyone provided their party name comprises three-words necessarily, and sequentially: B, J and P. On December 27, he told a wire agency that PDP would ally with any party which primarily can get rid of AFSPA. How could this be expected from NC, the party which begged for AFSPA revocation till Congress’ UPA term ended? And I am sure, the one man Army, Engineer Rashid too may not be able to accomplish it.
 What inhibits PDP from accepting its proposed marriage with BJP?  Modi’s BJP Minus Article 370 can be the best bet for Kashmir primarily on account of prospects of human rights. Modi’s strict response to Chattergam killings should serve as an eye-opener that despite AFSPA, he grilled the armed forces to level of no complaints of rights abuse since. Earlier this year in January when Army closed the infamous Pathribal encounter file, it was UPA regime. Moreover BJP never hanged Muhammad Afzal Guru.

NC’s Arrogance or Governance
 After May knockout, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah gets his five-year ban on prepaid SMS revoked overnight, in one-page order duly signed, publicized and hyped by his government. Omer enhances retirement age from 58 to 60 years, a long pending demand which even his predecessors could not fulfill. Coming to the rescue of starving unemployed youth, he enhances upper age limit from 37 years to 40 for entry into government jobs. Omar personally revokes the government order which made new entrants into government job get almost exploited monthly stipend of many times less than what a rag-picker earns a day. Omar is ready to give amnesty to stone pelters. And ahead of floods hitting Srinagar, Omar keeps vigil on rising waters.  
 Given these heartthrobs, if this was Omar of 2009, he could have emerged as a popular leader.  But then there was a problem. It was his last year, the almost lost year. His 2014 historic decisions proved historic repentance of the previous years. He went for administrative rollback of his exactly half-a-decade of blunders, all hatched allegedly by his tall and fat advisory.
 His previous 5-year tenure, left many like Me confused if words like governance and arrogance were interchangeable. From being allergic to opinions and acidic to suggestions, his government even looked sporadic in its own existence.  From E-Governance or E-Arrogance, every ‘E’ including that of his English started with T. ‘T’ for Twitter. In election campaign having claimed to be from the “pride family of Lion”, Omar forgot that even Cubs never Tweet, not even in circus. But then he Tweets and Tweets. And since May, he even reads., the email he announced for public grievances.
 But then there have been many Ship Jumps. While old guard Sheikh Ghulam Rasool joined PDP, Dr Mehboob Beg has equally left NC. Forget Ek Brahmin Nay Kaha, PDP’s Naeem Akhter is on record to foretell that not Jammu’s stalwart Dr Jitendra Singh but Nagrota winner Devindra Singh Rana as “historic architect of NC’s D-Day”.

Old man and the Lollipop
 Veteran pro-freedom leader Syed Ali Geelani equates New Delhi’s holding of elections in J&K with Lollipop. On February 4, Geelani Sahib said: Lollipops never distract great nations.
 But then Lollipops are no grapes, which could be sour. For a county which makes chocolates too tasty to leave even any Ramesh and Suresh pensive enough to relish the bites till Babu Ji’s pantaloon keeps going Ek Phalang Choti, Lollipops, will matter  in the conflict zone, which is even not self-reliant for candy-making. And then there are many takers. Those who don’t chew, lick!
 If separatist leadership meant boycott, they should have explained basics of this logic: Why? This ‘Why’ to the countryside man who is accused of “treachery” for being the “voter of all seasons” when he alone confronts the problems, which could sound Greek to the separatist leadership enjoying a luxurious living in their cozy homes, all in summer capital. This is true except for Dr Qasim Faktoo who though being in Srinagar, continues to be jailed for life. On December 29th he again sought Hurriyat unity while his ailing life Sayeda Asiya Andrabi continues to be equally fighting for justice.
 Coming back to candies, even chewing gum shouldn’t be ignored as “Non-Issue”. Trendy candy advertisements suggest that talks have gone chewing-gum dependant through: Zaban Pay Lagam. But then let’s forget Geelani, otherwise it reminds one of a May 19 statement when addressing press Mirwaiz Dr Umar Farooq asked: Who the hell is Geelani?
 Over the months, post floods, Mirwaiz is into another unification, his Akh Akis initiative for rehabilitation of flood victims. Cemented to his confidante and party colleague Shahid ul Islam, Mirwaiz aims at building concrete houses.

Hurriyat’s JK 01 R
 Hurriyat leaders may dislike government intervention into their affairs. But role of Regional Transport Officer may soon turn inevitable for this ever-dividing conglomerate. In the absence of patent rights on originals and fakes, issuance of number plates may be the only way out for some Hurriyat JK 01 R series of factions. 
 What was founded in 1993 as All Parties Hurriyat Conference,  APHC initially divided to be Hurriyat (M) and Hurriyat (G) literally making people of Kashmir sail in to two pro-freedom boats. But Jan of 2014 brought more of worries on divisive front: At 21 years, what India has often seen as marriageable age, this group divorced each other, to emerge with another Hurriyat offspring, this time: Hurriyat ( R). R Bole Toa Real!
 On Jan 17, as per a GK report, in a major setback to the Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Dr Umar Farooq, four of its senior leaders split from the amalgam to form a parallel group and vowed to “take the ongoing struggle for right of self-determination to its logical conclusion.” The four members including Shabir Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Azam Inqilabi and Muhammad Yousuf Naqash (excluding Javaid Mir) said they were the “real representatives” of the people.  This new group held its first rally in Rafiabad, called for poll boycott, which ultimately realized in a historic voter turnout. Later in the year on August 31, Geelani initiated process to give a practical shape to his unity call again. 
 Exactly a week later floods washed away many things but not everything. Not at least the sweet some things from MLA (Don’t read Qadir Khan’s way) Sajad Lone, a former ingredient of Hurriyat. Finding “elder brother” in Narendra Bhai Modi, Sajad Lone in October almost sang Hello Brother, the popular number from Salman Khan’s flop. But if singing someday makes sense to Geelani, irrespective of playing guitar or not the revered veteran may ask Sajad about his swearing by Quran: Kya Huwa Tera Wada? But as they say behind every successful man, is a woman: Sajad has his better half Asma Khan, who comes to his rescue even in newspaper columns.
 But if men can make a country strong, Yasin Malik is that metal. Even when jailed ahead of election boycott campaign, Malik left behind his enigma which worked in his native Maisuma stronghold, the only locality which vehemently boycotted polls in Srinagar. But then for flood hit Kashmir Inc, struggling for revival, elections were no priority in 2014. KCCI gave a year’s extension to its President Sheikh Ashiq and others.
12 years of no change
 12 years on, my concluding phrases of Tragicomedy continue to go unchanged again: Convincing but confusing, nothing certain expect uncertainty. But as Tomorrow Never Dies, let’s hope for the best of a better tomorrow and Happy New Year to those who believe in it!

Kehwa was never so bitter:
On Feb 8, police FIR exposed a new taste of traditional Kashmiri Kehwa when the then MOS Health Shabir Khan was accused of molestation by a doctor who said he made advances on her in the name of Kehwa. After Shyam Lal Sharma and Taj Mohiud Din, who headed the Irrigation and Flood Control and Health ministries, it was Khan who hogged the headlines. 

Do you Wana partner?
On Dec 26, former CM Ghulam Nabi Azad floated the idea of Grand Alliance between his Congress, PDP and NC. Azad who earlier this month termed Omar’s six year term a waste, aspires to be with the wasteful again. Prof Soz and his son Salman Soz this time, however, seem to be lagging Azad’s kind of Kick.

Much the way Aamir Khan tested innovations for super-hit, NC’s young blood, Salman Sagar, Tanvir Sadiq and Junaid Azim Mattu could have replaced some failing contestants. But NC banked on experienced failures. Now loyalties have so changed that Sadiq who for six years copied his master’s grey hair has gone for Henna dye.

Tamanchay Pay Disco:
PDP MLA Ashraf Mir celebrated his election victory, defeating Omar Abdullah, by holding an AK 47 rifle and allegedly firing gunshots. Omar’s wisdom seems to have worked wonders as he, unlike Mir, didn’t make it to the result venue.

Abh Tak Chappan:
Within days of former SSP Aashiq Bukhari’s entry into PDP, he was shown the exit door with party president saying he was never associated with them.

Mein Hun Naa:
Noted economist Dr Haseeb Drabu joined PDP. But in the post election aura, he is economical with his words.

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander: 
Businessman-turned-politician Syed Altaf Bukhari won elections from Amira Kadal while his role in post flood scenario seems to have proved a game-changer for him.

Dhoobtay Hein Boat Sawar He:
Although he spent initial days rescuing people, floods proved devastating for Nasir Aslam Wani who sank in Amira Kadal. Presumably his Dil Se slogan met the tragic movie fate.

Tum Mujhay Yun Bhula Na?
Pakistan’s Peshawar school massacre had spontaneous reaction from a Kashmiri poor old man travelling by a minibus as he said: May Sheikh Sahib’s soul rest in peace for his 1947 wisdom!

There was a message in silence from people like Moiley Abdullah. Least seen on political podiums, least seen poking her nose in husband’s affairs, she silently donated her kidney to Dr Farooq Abdullah, for  a new life.

Bang Bang:
AG Mir is first IGP and Amit Kumar first SSP in 25 years to have conducted Assembly polls peacefully.

Sab Se Bada Khiladi:
Skier Abbas Wani defeated Ghulam Hassan Mir in Gulmarg.

There were moments in rainy March when DDC Srinagar Farooq Ahmed Shah and his SMC counterpart SMC Dr GN Qasba pledged to work together. But floods washed away many things including peace of mind, which Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Rohit Kansal could not enjoy. For him the posting remained Sir Mundatay He Oolaya. Within days of his assuming chair, Kashmir deluged.

Ae Bhai Zara Dekh K Chalo:
Stuck in traffic jams, SSP Traffic Srinagar Haseeb-Ur-Rehman has been looking ahead to see Imtiaz Ali’s Highway replace City roads.