There was a time we had just three political parties in J&K. One, Kashmiri Pandits Conference. Two, Hindu Sabha.
Three, Sikhs' Shiromani Khalsa Darbar. One each to the Dogras, the Sikhs, and the Kashmiri Pandits. The census of the times tells us that Hindus were around 20% population, and Sikhs below 2%.
Kashmiri Pandits, comprising almost 6% of population in the valley against more than 90% Muslim population, were included in the total 20% Hindu population of the J&K state. So, in a way, they were privileged among the privileged. The Kashmiri Muslims in the valley, and the non Kashmiri Muslims living around the valley of Kashmir, were the only people without a political party. More than 75% of the total population in the entire state of J&K, a predominant majority, was without any political party. Remind yourself that the Muslim population was in majority separately as well in all the geographical components of the state – Jammu, Ladakh, and Kashmir.
An abject absence of this subject population, in terms of its participation in politics, its economic worth, its educational standards, and societal leadership, was ensured by denying them any form of expression, keeping them illiterate and poor. This population was nowhere to be seen in the scheme of governance, in the structure of government, and in the political power of the state.
Then the early rumblings of a political consciousness in this population of Kashmiri Muslims began to question this scheme of things. Certain processes deep underneath, coupled with the bloody events of July, 1931, brought this population into limelight. A political party was born, finally. All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference. But the bird barely fluttered awhile that its wings were clipped. Kashmir's politics was murdered in its infancy.
This is now a long story and to cut it short we come to 2018. But more it changes, the more it remains the same. Kashmiri Muslims are again absent in the field of political representation, governance, government, and the power of the state. In many ways we are worse than we were almost a century back; subjects of an alien, cruel state.
Look how completely we are out of everything. We are ruled through a person who is unelected, and doesn't even belong to the majority identity. We are managed through a team of officers who are almost all outsiders. They decide what they decide for me, they implement how they implement on me. They make all our choices, they take all our decisions.
For all these decades National Conference kept us telling that we are part of a secular, democratic India and our rights are constitutionally safeguarded. Now is the time when they boycott the local bodies elections. A recently born test tube baby, People's Democratic Party, wanted us to believe that NC was a bad choice, so try me. Mufti got his chance and whatever was left slightly less damaged, he bulldozed fully. Late Mufti Sayeed credited himself for enhancing the people's participation in the Delhi organised electoral politics. But here is his part now, boycotting elections. What does it signify; end of the fake, deceptive politics envisaged by the Indian National Congress, and assigned to All Jammu Kashmir National Conference. PDP is only a remote and minuscule extension of the same politics of deception.
So where is our political party? JRL – Joint Resistance Leadership! Of course. But they refuse to be a political formation. The problem with this leadership is that it has given up on its role as a leadership. It's a unique container of politics that has a big hole in the bottom. In fact two. One real, another ideological. The real one is the armed face of this freedom struggle. The ideological is the Islamism. As long as the two call the shots, no political leadership worth its name is a possibility.
In this situation of near helplessness, one can only pray to God that our political consciousness takes the form of a political party. A party that shuns both secularism, and looks beyond Islamism. A political party that combines two goals, pursues both with a calm mind, and resolute heart; the goal of complete freedom from military occupation, and the goal of ensuring the existence of Kashmiri collective till the freedom has come. A political party that takes care of the daily needs of ordinary people living in our villages, and towns, and doesn't throw them at the mercy of the greedy brokers unleashed by Delhi. A party that minutely watches the processes and programmes of governance, and interferes in it. A party that minds even as small a thing as a lid of a manhole left open on a busy street. A party that engages with all levels of bureaucracy, and doesn't shy away from taking on Delhi on the constitutional turf.
But while doing this it doesn't corrupt our minds by bribing our belly. A party that seriously thinks of participating in elections, wins, and then pickets the Assembly rather than taking oath, making it difficult for New Delhi to take Srinagar for granted. A political party that minds the growth of business in Kashmir, takes care of education, and has a keen eye on societal issues. A political party that is a political party, acts like a political party, and keeps Srinagar at a safe distance from Delhi, at a safer proximity to Islamabad, anchors itself to Srinagar without closing the doors to the world. A party well aware that the majority is Muslim, and there is larger Muslim world.
Can we have such a political party, or is it just a wishful thinking!!!