Kashmiryat: Alive and Kicking!
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Kashmiryat: Alive and Kicking!

I rest my case for the moment with a hope that with Kashmiryat rediscovered by Mr Rajnath Singh will show the necessary statesmanship to initiate a dialogue with all parties in Jammu and Kashmir, the two Hurriyets included.

Only the other day the country's Home Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh chose to declare that Kashmiryat, that elusive commodity, proclaimed dead and gone not so long ago,is indeed "alive and kicking. "Tar-o taza" was the term he used to describe its discovery the day when many in the troubled Kashmir valley chose to foregather at several places  in  the city of Srinagar to express their disapproval of the killing of seven Amarnath yatris near Anantnag.Yes, indeed that was dastardly killing of innocent pilgrims who obviously had chosen to stay on a day longer in Srinagar ,no part of the registered pilgrims moving in secured convoys. Gujaratis all, their driver, Mr. Salim Sheikh included. They did make it to Srinagar, on their way back home, taking in the sights and sounds of the summer capital– its Mughal Gardens more than anything else.Happily returning  to Salim's care, but overtaken on the national highway by forces of evil.

Popular grief over the senseless killings was all too  genuine and spontaneous. Nothing to do with desh droh,faith  or terror. The Kashmiris who attended these meetings were, some would say, well-heeled locals,young  and  old, from the middle class, many  office workers, by and large, the kind that would want to send their wards to join institutions of excellence,  of advanced learning in other parts of the country.  And very often they do get admitted to professional institutions  away from home,ostensibly on scholarships and promises which sadly in many  cases remain unfulfilled or end up in  situations which make many wonder if  the intended purpose is at all  served. But let's  admit that the grpuse become s irrelevant a when we are  speaking of  the sordid tale  of the Amarnath killings .Yes, the killings of Yatris cannot be justified and I don't think anyone in the State ,all three geographical entities comprising it, and importantly in the valley, has held back  while expressing condemnation of the tragic incident. The separatists were among the first to disown the perpetrators and equally vehement in expressing strong disapproval of  the wanton attack on pilgrims. For a change, condemning the killers,  noted a Jammu BJP MLA. No favours done.

 Yes, if our pretensions of being a secular State are at all serious – I maintain  they are'nt—such killings should never take place. But we are living in  strange times ; one man's meat  is poison  to another, the old saying  coming literally alive. Or. So it seems, given the fervor and the rich imaginations of our cow  vigilantes scattered  from  one end of the country to the other. No serious effort, not at all, being made to cry a halt to the continuing carnage. Those who have the power to stop it  are looking for scapegoats  and silly excuses to legitimize the horrors perpetrated in the name of the holy cow.  To that extent one has to  be grateful that in the prevailing atmosphere of hate almost e very Indian ,Kashmiris included, stood right there ,condemning the Amarnath killings. Yet the honest, down-to earth truth is that  a deliberate and well-orchestrated effort has been set  afoot for a long while now to   generally    communalize our politics, indeed the very air we breathe;  sad the ruling elite in  New Delhi appears to have chosen Kashmir and the holy cow as  guinea pigs (pardon the expression) to determine respective dosages of venom to be  introduced before the ruling class in Delhi and Nagpur makes up its mind about  step two. But, then, these are supposed to be good times in Kashmir. For Rajnath Singh who has been repeatedly promising restoring peace and normalcy in Kashmir  but had lately seemed a little averse to  anyone citing the former BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Insaniyat  would be the watchword in his pursuit of resolving the Kashmir issue. Indeed, his colleagues, including his boss, the Prime Minister himself, seem  uncomfortable to use the mantra prescribed by Vajpayee . To that extent I am happy that Home Minister, who would perhaps  love  not to be  seen as a perpetrator of barbarity  in the State , has finally woken up to the reality of Kashmiryat being tar-o-taza after all the bloodshed  of the past two years. Not that the State has knownl peace now for almost three decades. And given the obduracy of the leadership on both sides of the divide one is left wondering if resumption of a dialogue within the State and with the disputant Pakistan can be an immediate possibility . On a larger canvass it was only to be expected that New Delhi should have spurned the week's Chinese offer of mediation between India and Pakistan. Indeed the Indian reaction to the proposal at  the formal meeting which the Home ,the Defence and the External Affairs Ministers had with the leaders of the Opposition parties on Friday held no surprises. The notable thing was that the Government chose to repeat its commitment  to bilateral talks  between India and Pakistan. This again is no surprise. As someone who has been witness,as a reporter, to   a score of meetings between leaders of Government in Islamabad and New Delhi, Shimla, in Lahore,Islamabad and Calcutta, as it was then. 

The two nations have an amazing capacity of turning their backs on opportunity. Even at times when  a deal had looked ready to be struck.. Only  "looked", I said.. For  as I said they even  have an immense capacity to wriggle out of solemn commitments – and at the highest levels too and over placement of comas and semi-colons.To quote Buotros Buotroas Ghali, the former Egyptian Foreign Minister and UN Secretary General it was always a nightmare to have and Indian and a Pakistani serving on any committee. ":They can spend hours over commas and colons. Great ones for stalling,he once told me.

I rest my case for the moment with a hope that with Kashmiryat rediscovered, Mr. Rajnath Singh  will show the necessary statesmanship to initiate  a dialogue with all parties in Jammu and Kashmir, the two Hurriyets included.His party's partner in power in the State, Chief  Minister  Mehbooba Mufti and her party, have been suggesting such a dialogue from day one. Indeed, from the very day her father Mufti Sayeed signed the power-sharing deal with the BJP. It's there in the terms of the accord signed by the two.Yes,  Mr. Home Miniser.

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