Demonising Jammu and Kashmir

…Governor Malik adds voice

Dr. Javid Iqbal
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 18 2018 10:22PM | Updated Date: Dec 18 2018 10:22PM
Demonising Jammu and KashmirRepresentational pic

Governor Malik has finally added his voice to what the people in the state have been saying for a long time. Addressing a presser recently, Malik said, “The Jammu and Kashmir state has been demonised at the national level. Even a small incident (in the state) is blown out of proportions and not projected as it should be. The state is shown as a bad place”. The Governor wants the state he governs to be seen in a better light. Malik’s perspective might be different from how others perceive it. The point however is proved that demonization has become the norm, and it has resulted in a breach that could prove costly in political terms. The powers that be might not be conscious of what has been advertently or inadvertently unleashed. It might indeed be very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.

The demonization has an added dimension; it affects an equation that J&K needs to sail through the crisis. Delhi-Srinagar equation calls for engagement in peaceful parleys, as it is vital to conflict resolution. Even Delhi is prone to state that J&K needs resolution, even if it were to mean that the part of the state administered by Pakistan should return to India. Indian plea rests on accession that Maharaja Hari Singh signed with Union of India. Whatever the antecedents of that accession, whatever the conditionality, Union of India bases its case on it. Other parties to the dispute see it differently, thus there is more than one equation in the dispute. All these equations need to be functional, so as to furnish a resolution. Hence, the vital part of the equation already noted should hold. And, in order to keep it working, a congenial atmosphere would deliver dividends, while as demonizing affects the equation adversely.       

Governor Malik also spoke of the need to spread truth, relating that, “I have been the governor of Bihar and I was born and brought up in Uttar Pradesh. I have observed and seen that Jammu and Kashmir is a much better place than these places in a lot of ways. That is why it is our responsibility to spread truth.’’ The truth in J&K has many facets; much more that Governor Malik might be willing to admit. Good old saying on truth truly says—has it been spoken? It holds good for J&K much more than any other place, as truth in the state remains a casualty. It is especially so, as the TV anchors in electronic media put a huge premium on it. Some netizens on social networking sites call the anchors--fidayeen, given the intensity with which the attack is launched to demonize J&K on prime time shows every evening in TV studios in Noida and Mumbai. 

The truth, as Governor Malik perceives it might have a different dimension than how others perceive it. The Governor wears the conduct of urban local body and panchayat elections as a badge of honour. He implied as much, the governor related the urban local body and panchayat elections took place “peacefully and successfully” in Jammu and Kashmir. He added, “But none in the national media or press spoke about it. They only want to use mishaps and turmoil as headlines, and not the good (things) happening on the ground.’’ The fact stands that use of mishap and turmoil, as and when it occurs and whatever the manner it occurs in, earns ratings. It translates to commercial viability. In the wider world outside the citadels of electronic media, it conditions masses in the mainland India to harbour hatred. And, in J&K it adds to already frightening level of alienation. Neither the hatred, nor the alienation is conducive to resolution of the growing conflict. Negative feelings trump any chance of reconciliation—much needed for settlement of raging dispute.  

The electoral process propounded by Governor Malik to be the truth, a good thing happening on the ground is a facet of political scene in J&K state, which has been much debated. Whatever the truth of the electoral process, it has been used on multiple occasion without producing the results desired of it. At best the process has provided a temporary respite, and not the lasting relief. Mainstreamers in J&K have used it to create a niche for their formations, a political space of sorts, challenge however has remained. An ample space has been occupied by political formations staying beyond the pale of electoral politics. If it was Plebiscite Front in the past, it is Hurriyat in the present times. The dichotomy in political formations has been running on parallel lines. There is hardly a meeting point between the political formations supporting the status quo and those challenging it. 

Governor Malik has been reaching out to mainstream political formations, even though there are visible strains. His statements have implied that his mandate in J&K is restricted to bring the state back to normalcy, and he is willing to talk to anyone, who wishes to engage. However, he has also talked of limits, beyond which only Delhi can take the call. It implies that his utility may lie in keeping the equation between Delhi and Srinagar working. If he is able to take the demonising element out of this equation, it could mean meeting what he was mandated to. It could have a healthy effect on other equations implicit in the dispute. The equations need to configure to a meeting point in order to work out resolution.   

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

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