A year after

A whole year of intensive care and Kashmir still stumbling, weakened, made to look meek. Still nowhere near the promised good health. On the contrary the former princely state has been dismembered, one of its limbs, the Ladakh region, separated from the rest and given the new name of Union Territory of Ladakh. Mercifully Kashmir figures in the severed half to be Jammu and Kashmir – Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir like Daman & Diu, Nagar Haveli or Pondicherry or to make it more romantic the Former Union Territory of Goa, a full-fledged state now. One year of intensive care and yet nowhere near a shadow of what the poet had once described as paradise on earth – or what BJP leaders like A.B. Vajpayee, Narendra Modi and even former Home, now Defence Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh had promised would be a paradise based on Kashmiriyat, Jamhuriyat, Insaniyat. How unreal the whole thing looks. Far from paradise and Jamhuriyat and hoping (fingers crossed) insaniyat  still prevails. Who knows? The year spent in intensive care, though doesn’t inspire much hope, nor confidence. One of the lesser dramatis personae, Omar Abdullah, early this week had his own take on the situation but you can never tell, tell-tale bits when the patient is on an extended stay in intensive care and there is not much sympathy going around. I knew the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed well enough, as much as is possible between a reporter and a politician in power. Have known many nationally and a few internationally also but a common thread running through, that even if you are made to feel the most trusted of men you will rarely get nearer even half truths, never the whole truth. So you always run the risk of not being wholly in the picture. So much so that your own judgment may become a blur. But one question that has beaten me completely, which I have not tried to answer is how could a man like the Mufti have gone into a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party. He may have only uttered a half truth or a lie but he was never convincing on that one. He was aware of the likely fall out but Boy Scout like was willing to take the risk. True the BJP may just then not have tom-tommed its Hindu Rashtravadi (Hindu Nationalist) Agenda; in fact it had chosen to leave that to the collaborating frontal organizations. Finally it started opening up its cards in a slow and steady manner which over the next four years got reflected in its performance in the governance of the State. By the time the 2014 election came along the party had worked its way into every institution at the State, never loath to subvert from inside if necessary. The BJP had in fact raised its dissenting voice in the State right from 1953, by launching agitations against Article 370, for Ek Vidhan, Ek Pradhan, Ek Nishan and directed its ire against Kashmir’s special status in the union; this status had continued to be a thorn in its side, so to speak. The party had never sought to hide its agenda and indeed a formal agitation was launched in Jammu in 1953 by the late Prem Nath Dogra, later the President of Jan Sangh, precursor to the BJP. The party had never ceased nibbling at the so-called special relationship between the State and the Centre.

The party’s 2014 poll campaign in the state had marked a watershed of sorts in that its leaders including Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh etc. ritually made fun of so-called family lineage of Kashmir’s pro-India Muslim leadership. Such personal attacks are odious at the worst of times but the relentless BJP machine had not yielded, insisting instead on some of the Valley leaders naming the names of their forbears. If the Kashmiri leadership had refused to see the writing on the BJP wall how possibly could the self-same Kashmiri leadership holding all the post election advantages fall for seeking an alliance with the abhorrent BJP. Amit Shah incidentally does not hesitate repeating these silly allegations even now when he virtually has the run of the place. The minds of security forces cannot possibly remain uninfluenced by this kind of thinking. No less a person than General Rawat, the Chief of Defence Staff is prone to make vague references to such descriptions. Thus he makes the statement that even a child carrying a stone in support of the terrorists is liable to be seen as an over ground collaborator. Thus the dice continues to be loaded against the local Kashmiri. And that’s why you continue to  hear on a routine basis about militants getting killed in daily encounters. Not a day passes without encounters being reported from South, North Kashmir. You name it and the encounter is there only to be matched by the rising exchange of fire along the line of control. The intriguing part of it all is that the encounters usually find the militants operating from inside a residence which during the counter offensive means the destruction of property apart from deaths among combatants. It is rarely known whether the property belonged to militants or was it taken over by the latter to use it as a launching pad. These are stray thoughts that come to mind as one goes over the bizarre daily reports of encounters in residential areas.  One is forced to make this observation in the light of the statements made often by Authority suggesting as if entire residential areas in Shopian, Pulwama etc. are at the disposal of the militants. A frightening thought which one hopes is not true.