The Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM ) headed by Shah Feisal and Er. Rashid’s Awami Ittehad Party have made an alliance to fight election for the next Assembly in the State and named it as Peoples United Front – PUF. The leaders told the media that the alliance has been necessitated by the “ ongoing political uncertainty in the state, apprehension about the assault on its special status and absence of any credible political alternative in the state that could address both political vacuum and lack of good governance.” These are standard words uttered by every politician who deserts the ship, or wants to create his own political outfit.
PUF reminds us of MUF of 1987. The agenda of PUF outlined by the leaders alleys fears that, except for the rhyme, PUF won’t match with the MUF of 1987, in as much as the mew alliance has an inclusive character. We hope the government agencies will not deal with this political combination the way they dealt with the MUF in Assembly elections of 1987, whose disastrous side effects we are still reeling under.
The political actors in the state have behaved in such a manner as to make people really cynical and weary about their intentions. The two leaders, therefore, must convince a common man about genuineness of the move. Er Rashid has been in the business for a while now, Shah Faisal being new entrant to the game of politics, may have to face some odd questions. Questions which in normal course won’t be asked. But we live in abnormal world. People say why there is mushrooming of political outfits in the Valley, only. True to our habit of finding ‘conspiracy ‘ everywhere, the theory is making circles about emergence of JKPM and PUF. People asking questions can’t be faulted. Apprehensions are not misplaced. GoI did try to introduce so many ‘ stake holders ‘and extraneous factors to the K problem, only to deflect the real issue. Attempt is still on.
Despite the relentless military action, security situation in Kashmir has shown no signs of the improvement. Violence continues to devour young and old. Someday dialogue process will have to start. It is becoming problematic; who will hold dialogue on behalf of Kashmiris. True, PM Modi has so far betrayed no sign of being in urgency to have a dialogue but, given the rising death toll of civilians and the security forces, it can’t be the usual business for long. Other option must be exercised. Someone will have to be located to start talking with, sooner than later, to find a way ahead. To be fair, many a ‘ stake holder ‘ have ruled themselves out for their espousal of a blatant one sided view. Having let loose NIA after some prominent Separatists, Modi can’t be seen talking to them, so soon.
It is heartening to note that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has urged Centre to hold dialogue, to which he will respond positively. Governor Malik has appreciated the stand.
Hurriyat never conceded a right to the NC and PDP to speak for Kashmiris. In turn, later denied former the sole agency to represent the people in the Valley – for not having a verifiable mandate from them. Centre has same argument to exclude the separatist from the scene. Though none can deny that both Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq command a huge following in Kashmir and some places beyond the Valley. For sure, no peace effort will succeed in absence of their Ashirwaad – explicit or implicit.
It is a good omen that young and educated are joining politics. It is natural that old and entrenched political forces feel threatened. The threat is real for those who treat political party as a propertied concern, managed by the family that shows utter disregard for the aspirations and sensitivities of a common man. While there is no denying that NC, PDP and other Valley specific political parties have a role to play, space has to be made for others to bring in fresh ideas and to jolt those who claim it their hereditary right to rule us. They must be thrown out of the comfort zone.
PM Modi and Amit Shah are galloping in the political landscape of the country. Well, none can deny them a right to spread political wings across India – J & K included. We have only to tell them that their political march to the Valley must be conditioned with due regard for the Constitutional provisions that underline Centre – State relations. This must be told to them in one voice, keeping aside egos and petty political interests.
We trust Er Rashid and Shah Faisal won’t drive us to North Pole – South Pole convergence in the aftermath of Assembly elections.
(B L Saraf is the former Principal District & Sessions Judge)
It is a good omen that young and educated are joining politics. It is natural that old and entrenched political forces feel threatened.