A chain of unkept promises has spawned a disappointment too obvious to be covered behind a veil of words
The agenda of the BJP and the PDP during the recent assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir was diametrically opposed to each other.
While the BJP polarised the situation that benefited it in Jammu province by bagging 25 seats; PDP got 28 seats in Kashmir province owing to its slogan of self rule and claims to resist “Modi Wave”.
However, after pitting against each other during the elections, both the BJP and the PDP entered into a power sharing agreement and despite deep differences on important ideological and political issues came up with a vague “agenda of alliance”. Soon after the government formation by these two parties, their leaderships claimed to have grabbed a ‘historic opportunity’ for ‘peace,’ ‘reconciliation’ and ‘development’ in the state.
This power partnership came as a surprise for the people who with the passage of time have started to question its credibility. However, Mufti claimed that BJP-PDP coalition was for ‘reconciliation’ and respecting the verdict of two communities in two regions of the state. He further claimed that rebuilding the flood devastated state demanded huge funding, which was only possible by sharing power with the BJP that also rules in the centre.
So far the tall claims about peace and reconciliation have fallen flat. Not to talk of ‘reconciliation’, the fact remains that the polarisation germinated by the RSS-BJP has further spread its tentacles. The sustained divisive campaign by the Sangh Parivar in the state has further sharpened the divide and created an atmosphere for nurturing Muslim fundamentalism.
The rehabilitation of flood victims and providing relief to the sufferers has been thrown to back burner. Traders, farmers, orchardists and artisans are crying for adequate relief and compensation for huge losses they suffered due to the deluge. The infrastructure damaged during the floods still awaits rebuilding. Flood protection works have not been taken up and road communication in most of the parts in Kashmir has not been restored fully.
People are largely in deep economic distress. The sufferings of the people have increased manifold as the public services are defunct and government machinery is insensitive. Welfare schemes face fund deficit. Government employees, mostly daily wagers, casual labourers and contractual employees are left without wages for months together and their peaceful protests are being tackled with brutal repression. Similarly, democratic and trade union rights are being infringed.
The unemployment in the state has taken alarming dimensions which is a cause of desperation and disillusionment among the youth. Due to lack of industries and private sector in J&K, the youth are subjected to work outside the state, but their harassment and a hostile environment in other parts of the country is a ground for their anxiety and unease.
While as repealing of AFSPA, return of power projects from NHPC to the J&K government have been sidelined, desperate attempts are continuing by the Sangh Parivar for challenging Article 370 through different forums. They are also hell bent to erode the law for issuance of Permanent Resident Certificates (PRCs).
The consumption of beef has been a non-issue in the state for the last many decades, despite its ban under Ranbir Penal Code. But a recent direction from Jammu and Kashmir High Court asking for strict enforcement of ban on beef has hurt sentiments of the majority community in the state. This has further polarised communities in the state. It cannot be without designs, as it was none other than Parmikosh Seth, a BJP activist and practicing advocate, who filed the PIL seeking enforcement of ban on beef, notwithstanding the fact that interfering in food practices of the people is a direct attack on their fundamental rights.
The uncertainty in J&K cannot be taken in isolation. Soon after the formation of the RSS led NDA government in New Delhi, poisonous communal campaigns of Sangh Parivar created fear and insecurity among minorities particularly Muslims in the country.
Ceasefire on LoC which was widely appreciated by people across the border has become again hot, much to the disadvantage of the people on both sides of the divide. Intermittent shelling on borders has made the lives of the locals miserable. Many precious lives have already been lost and people on both sides are forced to leave their home and hearth.
Situation in the region is also grim owing to the estranged relation between India and Pakistan. Ufa talks had provided an opportunity which has been squandered. Nawaz Sharief was put under tremendous pressure to withdraw from NSA level talks. While as Modi government with an excuse of inviting Hurriyat leadership by Pakistan High Commission, supplemented his Pakistani counterpart to sabotage the dialogue process.
These developments are fast disillusioning the people and an environment of hopelessness has been created, which can only help those who want to undermine the peace process.
Situation ahead is serious. Sangh Parivar is using every opportunity to foment trouble in the country. And the secular democratic forces must discharge their responsibilities by organising people to resist this communal onslaught. Left forces, though not so strong, have to play an important role ahead.