For the past fifteen months, there has been hardly a day when a new 'hegemonic discourse' was not set into motion in the state. Some were brought into public domain directly by Delhi and some through its hanger-on politicians in the state.
Articulating decades old intentions of the BJP for abrogating Article 370 of Indian Constitution, Narendra Modi BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in first election rally in Jammu on December 1, 2013 in fact kick-started the renewed 'hegemonic discourses' by calling for a debate on validity and efficacy of this Article. That, when seen in the light of discussions in the Indian Constituent Assembly at the time of its introduction testifies Jammu and Kashmir is a Dispute whose future is yet to be decided and it has to be there till the dispute is in the United Nations. And by praising Maharaja Hari Singh, against whom people of the State across the communal divide had revolted he also made more than obvious intentions of the party about the state. He also played the old ballgame of sectarian divide for strengthening the "dominant discourse" by talking about Shias and Gujjar's as separate entities- people discriminated against. Moreover, after the formation of the BJP government at New Delhi and the BJP-PDP alliance government in Jammu, a spate of 'dominant discourses' like creating ghettos for rehabilitating migrants, giving citizenship rights to West Pakistan refuges (WPR), abrogating Article 35 A and many others were threateningly trumpeted from various Hindutva power centres and corridors of power in the state . In the long list of these 'hegemonic discourses', latest is banning the beef in the State.
The decision to ban beef, has brought the state to a precipice of chaotic situation, perhaps something that the Sangh Parivar, has been desiring for past fifteen months by introducing one after another 'hegemonic discourses' for executing its own agenda in the state. Most of the 'earlier hegemonic' discourses, whether aimed at changing demography of the State or imposing writ of New Delhi government had not stirred such a huge public resentment as that banning of beef has evoked- overwhelming majority sees it as interference in their individual freedom and religious beliefs. In the recent history, it was for the first time, when general masses flagrantly registered their protest again ban on beef by slaughtering the buffalos and other animals under the gaze of media on main streets, roundabouts in cities and towns and villages. Even in Srinagar city that less than ten percent beef eating population people joined protest by slaughtering the animals allowed by the scriptures and banned by the authorities.
It seems, Muslims across the state are on one against interference in their religious affairs. On Thursday, Ulema and religious leaders across the divide opposed the ban and asked Muslim of the state to publicly defy the ban on Eid al-Adha. Seeing the ban as 'interference in religious affairs of Muslims', the religious scholars asked people to put forward a united strategy to subvert the move.' The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, one of the affiliates of the Sangh Parivar has taken the beef ban 'hegemonic discourse' to yet another level by threatening 'launching of another agitation like 2008 in Jammu, starving people of Kashmir region by stopping all supplies and causing economic blockade, if Speaker of the Assembly, Kavinder Gupta, belonging to BJP allows discussion on anti-beef ban bill in the House.'
The only road Kashmir region has with the rest of the world passes through two and half Hindu majority districts of Jammu province. During 2008, Amaranth forest land row that the VHP has referred to the Hindutva parties had blocked Jammu and Srinagar highway and stopped supplies of essentials including medicines to Kashmir province. This had widened the divide between communities and sparked bloody Muzaffarabad Chalo agitation – a million strong march to Line of Actual Control in support of demand for opening of the Jhelum Valley Road and impressing upon the UN to resolve the Kashmir dispute. On Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway forty five kilometres before the highway a top Hurriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz and four others were killed in police firing. It had also brought down Ghulam Nabi Azad headed Congress-PDP government. The stifled peoples resentment against men in power did not die with the changed of guard but found more violent expressions in 2009 and 2010 summers of dissent. The death of 116 children and teenagers during 2010 brought the dispute over future of Jammu and Kashmir once again under international focus. The three month long agitation not only convinced opinion maker in New Delhi from Vir Sanghvi to Swaminathan Aiyar that status quo will not do and asked leadership to 'think unthinkable' and 'be realistic about Kashmir' but also brought back Kashmir to international headlines. Hundreds of international newspaper and magazine published editorials and opinions about the bleeding state.
It needs to be understood, the new hegemonic discourses that were given currency during past fifteen months are not born just at the spur of the moment. But, these are part of bigger devious game plans to drown the historical Kashmir narrative in the cacophony of the 'dominant discourses.' And to kill the 'sentiment' of overwhelming majority that has for past eighty four years through their steadfastness and commitment to their cause oiled flicker of hope for a new dawn.
Of all the 'hegemonic discourses' set into motion during past few months the 'beef ban' after the VHP threatening strangulating and starving eighty percent population of the State has becoming a ticking bomb. The emerging scenario will be yet another test of political sagacity of the Hurriyat leaders. And, in all likelihood it will place two major 'regional electoral political' parties the National Conference and the PDP on tightrope- which one will stumble, time will tell.