We need to put the things in right perspective
Engineer Rashid picked it up from where Omar Abdullah left. Save their participation in elections, there is little common to both, yet it seems both leaders are deriving some kind of pleasure in training their guns on Hurriyat (in its present avatar Joint Resistance Leadership, run by triumvirate of Geeelani, Mirwaiz and Malik). This is at a time when an overwhelming majority of people across political and ideological persuasions and regional, ethnic, linguistic and religious divide have mobilized themselves to wage a relentless campaign for protecting the Article 35 A, that they believe is and has proved a formidable constitutional barrier against attempts to change JK State’s demography. Though in my last week piece I pointed to some constructs Omar loves to worship at such crucial times, the Independent MLA from Langate’s putting his weight behind the NC leader has come, at least to me, a surprise, bordering on disappointment.
Though dyed in the same wool of electoral politics, Engineer boasted of being blessed with a matrix having resistance strands. A tight walk rope he has to balance his weight and claim, both. A little unsteady step and the brutality of his fall would torn him apart in writhing pain. In sentiment-driven politics as in Kashmir, the inverted fall is most dreaded. Unforgiving. It skins you off all integrity and grace, even though you are placed on the executive chair. The maverick in Engineer has emboldened him advocating right to self determination for people of Kashmir, right from the floor of assembly to the dens of hateful politics. From resisting beef ban to seeking reprieve in death sentence of Afzal Guru and demanding return of his mortal remains from Tihar Jail, Engineer was fighting a lone battle in the Assembly. He never got exhausted nor dispirited. But his frothing against the JRL– that Kashmiris believe its role is instrumental in responding to the political and judicial threats to Article 35A– has potentially damaged his image.
Rashid accuses JRL of diluting the Kashmir cause and pushing us ‘from position of strength to making us beggars and apologetic’. He adds, ‘Situation has reached to such a point where we are today begging Indian Supreme Court not to abrogate Article 35-A’. It implies the manner JRL has asked all sections of society, in particular lawyers, civil society, journalists, students, trade and business community to rise up and fight for protection of Article 35-A and put up an organized defiance, Rashid believes is against the “ sanctity and demands” of the larger political question of Kashmir. JRL’s approach, he thinks, has whittled Kashmir down to the level of another Indian state. From the position of challenging and defying military might of India, JRL, he wants us to convey, have dwarfed itself to the demeaning position meant for pro-accession groups. It implies like Omar, Engineer too has veered to the point that Hurriyat has trespassed upon the domain meant for pro-Indian groups. The refrain is whether Article 35-A goes or is defrocked, how does it concerns you (JRL).
JK state enjoyed autonomous character in 1947 and in that respect agreed to delegate some powers to New Delhi. While Article 370 provided the mechanism for constitutional relationship between the two states, Article 35-A provided constitutional validity to the state maintaining its Muslim majority character, which even otherwise also was inherent in the promise held by the India in accepting the UNSC resolutions and its own promise of making accession subservient to plebiscite. Looking in that perspective, JRL leadership in rallying the people on Article 35-A is trying to safeguard the demography of the state. If in pursuit of that objective, they need to plead their case so what. How it is going to create dents in the disputable nature of Kashmir? Dents appear when intentions get contaminated by politics of greed and you corrupt your conscience. By the logic of Rashid and Omar only Indian mainstream class of politicians are entitled to raise such issues and mobilize people to that end. It means the people of Kashmir should enjoy sitting on the same hole they were bitten from umpteen times earlier. But people today are not that naïve. For example, had resistance leadership not intervened in 2008, Ram Nagars like towns would have popped up from the peripheries. Nearly all pro-Indian parties had conspired to realize what would have emerged a State within a State. For the last seven decades these power-lust groups wrestled with one another in inflicting death blows to the autonomous character of our state. How could we trust those who have always played treachery on their own people. They lack moral and political appeal. And they know it. If judicial route provides relief why should we not avail it for the larger good of the people. All over the world, we see resistance leaders and activists taking recourse to judicial root for bail and release order. Does that impinge on their sincerity and commitment towards a cause? Does that make them ‘apologetic’? That claptrap extended means that the JRL and those affiliated with them should not protest against say lack of food and medicines while they are detained or imprisoned. Such twisted logics cannot stick.
Rashid seeks settlement of Kashmir dispute through UN resolutions. That slogan reflects JRL stand. In that respect if JRL takes all necessary measures, including approaching judiciary, in defending Article 35A , he should have hailed its efforts. All of us here realize that our future and status of Kashmir question is directly linked with Article 35-A. How can resistance leadership, under these circumstances, watch the onslaught on the said provision silently and indifferently? One can infer from his statement that he wants JRL to leave the Article 35-A for parties that fight elections under Indian constitution. But it is these parties that have collaborated with forces inimical to Kashmir and Kashmiris and pushed us to the precipice. How can we reap a different? Or does Engineer Rashid, because of his seemingly pro- sentiment expressions, want JRL to own him and project him as their blue eyed boy for his electoral politics. Alas, in his latest bout of anger he has vindicated those who doubted his sentiment wings, pointing to his mammalian breast. And in between I am shocked.