Kashmir’s “Gabbar Singhs”!

Recently, there have been many instances where some of the members of the ruling elite have acted very high-handedly and treated senior officers of the administration as if they were their servants.
Kashmir’s “Gabbar Singhs”!
Representational Pic

Recently, there have been many instances where some of the members of the ruling elite have acted very high-handedly and treated senior officers of the administration as if they were their servants. Some people have referred to them as "Gabar Singh" of the famous Hindi movie "Sholay". In the movie, Gabbar Singh played by late Amjad Khan, is a very notorious dacoit. He leads a gang of dacoits who have terrorised one and all. The twin heroes come to face him and have many encounters. The dialogue of Gabbar Singh when he addresses his gang members who had let him down before the twin heroes, "Samba, kitnay Aadmi thai woh?" was a craze among the general public for quiet sometime. After uttering the dialogue, Gabbar Singh shoots his derelict gang members one after the other. This is the Gabbar Singh's punishment for dereliction of duty. In Kashmir too there have been similar instances where people in government and administration as well as various political parties have been behaving like Gabbar Singh.

The style of Gabbar Singh has been prevalent in Kashmir right from forties. The National Conferences headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had a number of muscle men under the patronage of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. Dissenting views were not tolerated at all. The group of National Conference goons would beat up people and even break radios if people listened to Radio Pakistan or Azad Kashmir. A security officer had become notorious for the tortures he inflicted on anti-Abdullah people. He was like the notorious Beria of the erstwhile KGB. 

After the dethroning of Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad got the NC "Peace Brigade" perfected under his cousin Bakshi Rashid who was exactly like the Gabbar Singh of the movie. The clan had been given the name of "Gogas". Bakshi Rashid used to wear a tilted Qaraqul cap and always had a couple of strongmen with him. He was a real terror for the people but met his nemesis during the holy relic agitation of 1963 when his car was burnt and thrown into River Jhelum by angry mobs. All these people went into hiding then and totally disappeared from the scene.

The high handedness by the politicians percolated into the administration and even in the internal setup of various political parties. This disease was worsened by the personality cult and nepotism. Delhi instead of patronising the honest, upright and people of integrity supported the deviant ones who could carry on their agenda. These people would bully common man and could get anything done and remain totally unaccountable. These included Deputy Commissioners, Divisional Commissioners, Officers in Civil Administration and Police. Slowly, accountability vanished and the "Gabar Singhs" became bold and totally high-handed. They had the cover of "National Interest" and "National Security". During the turmoil of nineties, the accountability both in security apparatus and administration went for a six. 

Same situation occurred in most of the political party set ups. These were plagued by dynastic succession and nepotism. There was total sycophancy and the personality cult was perfected. This could be a natural phenomenon for the parties and groups sustained by external forces. However, even the people supposed to be leading a popular cause were divided into dozens of parties and sub-parties. Again the reason was personality cult and lack of democracy in the set ups. These are functioning as if they are about to take over the government rather than to continue to struggle for achieving their goal which in many cases remains still vague. 

The first requisite for the success of any party or organisation is the exercise of real democracy in its working. Every one's dignity and honour has to be respected. In a ruling set up, both in the ruling elite and the administration, respect is to be given to all the sub-ordinates. One cannot brow beat simply if one claims to be honest. No one can judge every other person to be dishonest. False pretence of honesty and integrity only exposes one's hollowness. Accountability is the prime requisite for an honest and integral administration but it has to follow certain rules as well civilised behaviour. Let us hope all the concerned take a cue and act truly in a democratic and civilised way and not follow the proverbial "Gabar Singh"!

(The author is former DG Tourism)
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