Certain home truths need to be admitted without any inhibition about Kashmir. Kashmiri apple was our introduction to Kashmir. My father, who served as a teacher in Anantnag Degree College in 1960s would bring Kashmiri apples, and narrate qualities of the fruit. It is sweet, crispy and contains lot of vitamins. We, the children at home, were interested in its rosy colour and sweetness. “Your cheeks are as red as Kashmiri apple,” used to be a compliment for all those having red cheeks – in, short, beautiful. So, the easy conclusion was Kashmir is beautiful, and so were its people. That is a statement of fact.
But this year, I missed Kashmiri apple. The apples from the Valley were not available in the market. There were apples from the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh – this raised a question in my mind. Can I say the neighbouring state, when J&K is not a state now. Does a Union Territory have the right to call another state as neighbouring state? I struggled to find an answer, but couldn’t find one. This dichotomy will continue to be part of our lives until the promised statehood is restored to us.
People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration has promised that it would restore the special status and the statehood to J&K. I will hold the Alliance accountable to its word. I can write about them, criticise them the way they are working or not working and I will roast them if they don’t deliver on their promise(s). As a journalist, I think I have this right. And, I can say it with certainty that I can question them fearlessly. Some of them have streaks of intolerance. They have criticised me openly, others would not pick up my phone for days together. They were angry with me, but never` hated me for my writings, nor was I ever trolled for my writing by them or their supporters, and they have a large number of them. Many of them are very tech savvy. They also have etiquettes of returning the phone call even when they are not happy with the writings.
The PAGD’s promise to restore everything that was there on August 4, 2019, is a very tall promise. It is more than an out of reach promise purely because of the given situation in the country, where any talk of restoration of Article 370 is nothing short of a blasphemy. But there are always some real-time and irrefutable contrasts that cannot be erased. The words and visuals may be dumped but the eyeballs that witnessed the events will always remember what they saw.
At the oath-taking ceremony of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his coalition ministry on March 1, 2015, entire top BJP brass was present on the occasion. There were two flags on the dais – national tricolour and that of the state of J&K. All the BJP ministers travelled to the secretariat in cars fitted with two rods carrying the two flags. It was not an illusion.
Even after the Article 370 was scrapped on August 5, 2019, ten days later on the Independence Day, the Governor Satya Pal Malik inspected the parade riding in a jeep fitted with the two flags. I remember, because I have not erased my memory.
This is the lesson for the PAGD, too. The debate should be between realism and idealism. You cannot have a cake and eat it too. Contesting the DDC polls was your choice, and choices are made out of willingness, not compulsions. The choices made under compulsion lead to compromises. If there are chapters of history on your side, there are pages of compromises too. It is not necessary to turn all these pages here. If the country is not convinced about your ideas and ideology – there must be something wrong somewhere, which has been woven by erstwhile allies turned adversaries in their narration against you. Any future misstep will give them wider opportunity to do so.
Politics is not a text book from where a particular syllabus would be chose. It is ever evolving phenomenon. This evolution should move with the time and a lot of pragmatism. That, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be surfacing on the ground. There is a disconnect between the leadership and workers of the parties. The direct connect is missing. If this connect cannot be established with your people at this critical stage, then how can the country be prepared to listen to you. Just think for a moment, and also spare a thought for those, who, like me, want to have only Kashmiri apple in fruit basket.