It’s been a politics of deception and fraud upheld by National Conference then, now and always, comments
At one juncture of Kashmir history Sheikh Abdullah used to take initiatives and others had to follow him. History has changed Sheikh Abdullahs National Conference degenerated from the position of leader ship to the position of a follower. It became obvious from recent endorsement of Syeed Ali Shah Geelan’s call for Hartal by National Conference. It was followed by Omer Abdullah’s support for the statement of Syed Salahudin relating to ceasefire. It is a welcome step and may be beginning of the end of Awaraghardi for National Conference in which it plunged after joining Indian main stream politics in 1975 as a result of Indra-Abdullah accord. But mere endorsement of statements of Syed Ali Geelani and Syed Salahudin is not sufficient to remove the blots of treachery and untrustworthiness from track record of National Conference.
The statements not even help bridge the gap of ideology and bitter memories between two major actors of Kashmir politics. In order to create an avenue for its rehabilitation National Conference has to reorient itself for creating a space in Kashmir politics. The steps can be both positive as well as negative. Among the negative steps the most important step can be abandonment of the politics of duality and assumption of different roles by different members of the family. Dubbing of Muft’s Syeed as Indian agent by Omer Abdullah and simultaneous slogans of Jai Hind and Atoot Ang by Farooq Abdullah can’t be digested by people any more. Sheikh Abdullah could afford this luxury because of his standing and primitive means of communication. A speech delivered in Kathua or Kishtiwar reaches to Srinagar even before a speaker has left the dais. Video presentation of statements can be replayed at any juncture. Double talk was a favorite pass time of Sheikh Abdullah. Most of the times he would blame press for misreporting. Even people would interpret his statements as tactical retreats associated with politics.
His progeny stands discredited. No one in Kashmir is going to give them any benefit of doubt to them. They are perceived to be defenders of status quo and puppets of colonization on account of consistent advocacy of Indian position in UN for three generations. Farooq and Omer have patronized and camouflaged human rights abuses committed by different state agencies during their rule. Ideologically National Conference has been advocating secularism as guarantor of equality, identity and security of Muslims within India. This perception has proved to be an illusion. Myth of secularism as a means of securing minorities has been exploded by recent Sachar Committee Report. The committee has proved with facts and figures that Muslims remain unrepresented or underrepresented in most spheres of life throughout India. Their representation in services is dismal. The only sphere were they remain disproportionately represented is the jails. The over all population of Muslims in India is 15%. Their percentage among the prisoners and detainees is 30%. At the time of accession secularism constituted a promise for equality now it is a liability and those who pleaded it have to explain what benefits accrued out of it. Slogans of secularism for Kashmiris are nothing but a demand to follow the same path and land in a same situation in which Indian secularism has plunged the Muslims Indians.
Kashmir has undergone a social transformation people are not as superstitious as they used to be. They can no more be mislead from various pulpits. Misuse and misappropriation of religious places has been a favorite tool of National Conference for years. In changed environment National Conference has to keep aloof from the feuds between Molvis and Peers of different shades. Labeling some one as badaatiqaad can be as disastrous nowadays for those who label as to those against whom such nick names are used. Unfortunately it is only elderly people who still remain associated with traditional religo-political denominations associated with National Conference. Sheikh could mesmerize people on account of his devotion to prayers and eloquence of his recitation his progeny is unfit for such a job on account their scant regard for Muslim culture and traditions. National Conference can’t afford to remain indifferent to the phenomenon of global resurgence of Islam.
Muslims of the world have discarded the notion of segregation religion of from public affairs In East and the West Muslims perceive their Islam as a way of life, equally relevant to all aspects of human behaviour thus leaving no room for any difference between religious and political affairs. Another issue of utmost importance which can’t be overlooked is association of National Conference with BJP lead NDA. This issue becomes important on account of involvement of BJP in demolition of Babri Masjid and its consistent advocacy for scraping of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
Apart from these issues of general concern National Conference will also have to explain or apologize some specific concerns of those whose statements it is endorsing. In 1975 soon after coming to power, National Conference extended emergency to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It imposed a ban on religious schools run by Jammati Islami. Thus putting to stake career of thousands of students studying in these schools. National Conference also patronized large scale violence and devastation of properties after the execution of Z A Bhutto. How far Geelani and Salahudin can forget and forgive National Conference for these acts remains to be seen.
The most important issue for National Conference is to get clear and conceptually reorient its rank and file on the issue of accession. National Conference has been architect of accession. It has harvested its bitter implications. It has entered into accords with New Delhi. It appreciates worth of these accords. Even after having this much experience it again seems to be playing with the fossilized slogan of Autonomy. One wonders why such an indifference towards lessons from history. Is it out of desperation for power? Is it helplessness or meekness of character of its leaders? Is autonomy camouflage for campaign of reemployment in New Delhi? Is it a prelude to National Conference’s joining secessionist politics? National Conference has to be clear on these points. In today’s world of Information revolution it can not have luxury of sailing in two boats. Present generation of Kashmir has a capability of tearing apart all masks of deceit, deception and dishonesty.
(The author can be mailed at:- firstname.lastname@example.org)