The recent photo-ops of CM Mehbooba Mufti singing and swinging with children on train and lakes belies the venom she has spewed on these children over the past five months.
Notwithstanding the rage emanating from the terrible tragedies Kashmir had to witness in the tumultuous 155 days that went by, Mehbooba Mufti has stood out the most with her outrageous and shocking comments. Whenever she spoke in the past, she has reeked as a CM devoid of compassion, her claims far from facts and her arguments dangerously provocative.
A speedy ride through her 'outreach':
For almost a month, the CM was in hiding, when one after another youth were killed. On her August 15 speech, she beseeched parents to 'stop kids from participating in protests' and claimed that these kids were close to her heart but ended the sentence with 'what can we do?' If not CM, then who could? Just a week back she went on to the extent of blaming the killed for getting killed and shamelessly trying to exonerate herself.
On August 25, in her first press conference after protests broke out all over Kashmir following Burhan Wani's killing, she proved that there was very little she could do. She ridiculed journalists for asking questions about killings and justified the barbaric acts. "Was the boy who was killed in DH Pora going to buy toffee or milk from the army camp?" she jeered.
A month earlier, on July 29, she had tried absolving herself by claiming that she would have prevented killing of Burhan wani for the sake of 'improving situation, booming tourism'. In the same breath she had called the deaths of youth a 'sacrifice'.
Her double speak however was brazenly out when she started comparing and differentiating the killings from those of 2010. The insensitive remarks were not just provocative but utterly wrong. Her office had not perhaps told her that not a boy but a girl, Yasmeena Akhtar 21, was killed in DH Pora. And that she had gone out looking for her 12 year old brother.
As was expected from a CM who had come to speak after a long hiatus, and with people wanting to know her stand on the current impasse she came out with an unbelievable theory of 5 percent 'trouble maker' Vs 95 percent 'peace mongers' .
Rather than giving them a holistic perspective on the situation and her action vis-a-vis her pro-protest outbursts in 2010, she proved she had completely metamorphosed into a confused and confusing entity.
In a recorded video message that was broadcasted again and again on the government owned Doordarshan, she shed a few tears, with her late father's picture in the frame as prop. She invoked her motherhood, brought in the existence of her two daughters and asserted that she understood the pain of mothers who had lost their children.
On July 12, just after three days after killing of Wani, 32 people had lost their lives in forces' action, Ms Mufti sounded confident about 'parents' letting their children 'out' to die. The excessive use of force was relegated under the carpet, as is being done today.
And as expected she did it again. During police commemorative day speech on October 21, she talked about the civilian killings, not all of them but three of them and promised to bring culprits to book.
The script was perfect as she was speaking in a tone that many would have wanted her to speak for all those days. However her speech soon started to sound erringly similar to the ones we hear quiet often from a Hindu right wing fascist group.
She tried washing her hands off responsibility, moral and intellectual, and put the blame of every action on police forces in J&K. "If there is a Kashmiri militant, don't kill him," she said hinting that she never knew of the plan to kill Burhan Wani or else, he being a Kashmiri, she would have ordered otherwise. Few days back, two local Kashmiri militants were charred to death after forces claimed to have killed them in An encounter in Arwani, Kulgam thereby mocking what CM had earlier said.
She asked forces to 'bear the stone attacks and not retaliate', thus absolving herself of the thousands of pellet injuries and bullets that killed almost a hundred. Is this, one wonders, how and where policies and plan of action is devised and discussed when people's seething anger is still waiting for just a little crack to blast?
Her remarks crossed all limits of insensitivity and bordered on brutality when she recently commented that Junaid Ahmed, the 12 year old Srinagar boy who was killed by a spray of pellets on 08 Oct 'was pelting stones' and was therefore fired upon. "Did she just justify the killing?" a hard-core Indian nationalist acquaintance of mine commented when we were together listening to her rhetoric on TV.
Madam Mufti has not addressed the nation even once as a mother that she claims to be. She has not even proved that she is a daughter of the soil by doing the kind of harm to Kashmir that is impossible to be undone – by selling CM chair to Nagpur.
Empathy, the very basis of her political outreach that she advertised as her USP throughout her political career has been mercilessly dumped by her.
Can she for once cry some real tears for the thousands trampled upon families who have lost their loved ones to bullets, pellets and beatings instead of invoking her father at every public address and weeping for him for some tear jerk photo-ops?
The author is Provincial Spokesperson JKNC