The celebrations haven't quite ceased. In between the bear hugs exchanged in Washington and now more noticeably so in Tel Aviv, the joy of it seems to be taking time for the significance of the hugs to sink in. To start with the US capital, think of that warmth the US President exuded wile slipping into the outstretched arms of his visitor from India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And at the end of the day the Prime Minister had achieved the impossible: the US administration had designated the Pakistan-based Hizb-ul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist. The impossible needle had been threaded. Terrorism or the insurgency in Kashmir, one would have expected, would come to a halt with that.. If you doubted that you had Mr Modi taking the final leap and slipping into the warm embrace of that other anti-terror hero, the heroic Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
I don't have to tell you that Israelis are past-master in nurturing and countering terrorism. And with their expertise available to us terrorists would be on the run. Sooner than you imagine. Forget that the American designation of Hafez Saeed and his outfits as international terrorists hardly dented his work; it may not have made a twopenny's worth of difference to the ground except that Delhi's will was done. Which was no mean achievement, to go by the back thumping in New Delhi I then. There is that other person, the head of that South Punjab –based outfit, yes the one who was airlifted by Mr A.B.Vjapyee's government to Kabul in that airliner hijack biz of some years ago. Yes, the same man who was also linked to last year's Pathankot carnage , along with Hafez Saeed.Azhar Masood.
Now the point I wish to make is that Syed Salahuddin who figured high on Mr. Modi's wish list in Washington, isn't indeed the terror kingpin he is made out to be. Circumstances so conspired that, like it or not, he was declared the chief of the Hizb after he turned up in Pakistan. Syed Salahuddin is not even his real name. He is a plain Mohammad Yusuf Shah, holding a Master's in political science from Kashmir, a father of five kids, a school teacher before he was attracted to local Jammat-e-Islami. The turning point in his life tuned out to be the 1987 elections to the State Assembly when he contested from the Amira Kadal seat in Srinagar against an NC stalwart Mohiuddin Shah (if recall serves). Yusuf, the teacher, saw himself "rigged" out, as did most of his Muslim United Front candidates. That is in crux what pushed him across to Pakistan and to his eventual celebration there as a hero. Young Burhan Wani who got killed in an encounter in Anantnag area in July last year, spoken now of as Hizbul commander a more authentic one, his memory a thorn in the sides of the Security Forces, a symbol of resistance to the Security Forces. More than Salahudin ever was or has been forget the wah-wahing by Modi Bhakts of the Pak-based Hizb chief being named an international terrorist by the Americans; this is a bit out of the fashion and hardly a burden to live with. Such dubbings have become a bit old fashioned.
Various statistics from Kashmir point to unprecedented levels of violence and deaths, of both security personnel and civilians, without militancy dented in any manner. The encounters in many parts have in the long run acquired more lethal form and content. Pitched battles between handfuls of militants and the security force have become more of a norm with the latter not hesitant any more to resort to abbreviated forms of scorched earth, burning down houses suspected of harboring militants, largely locals, destroying property. Contradictory versions, generally exaggerated, and jumping to conclusions is only exacerbating the happenings on the ground. To expect fair, impartial probes in such surcharged situations would be futile, no one in the State can now be considered independent and impartial any more. That is indeed the legacy of the awful failure of the BJP government in Delhi and the BJP partnered government in the State to seek reconciliation in any form. No talks is the mantra from New Delhi albeit couched in a different language. New Delhi somehow appears o have reconcile itself to a position of indifference towards the people in the State, those in the valley in particular. Mehbooba Mufti, much as she would have loved to (I presume) to deliver on what she usually refers to as her father's vision for the State, must remain hamstrung and helpless by the reality of the political morass the State has sucked into. No hope for miracles from her government given that the Centre has turned into a uncaring, unhearing monolith, its ears open only to the song of the saffronites. The time for stop-gap arrangements, quick-fixes, if you will, is well and truly past.
Even worse, those who advocate attempting a negotiated way out of the impasse are accused of sedition. If the TV channels, notoriously grand-standing as drum-beaters of the ruling dispensation are to be believed – then Kashmir may be well beyond repair. And left to their unchecked ways they would love nothing more than isolating the Kashmiris. Why, even the Amy Chief would seem to suggest that the ultimate solution may simply lie in giving all dissenters a bloody-nose, one that they would remember. Much of what is eating up Kashmir now- the past one year or so , if not the past three years of BJP rule in Delhi put together –is New Delhi's refusal to admit that it is set to pursue a course that can, and certainly will, lead to disaster.
As someone has pithily put it, Kashmiryat already lies dead and buried; it is Kashmir itself now that is at risk with the hounds of hate running around in unbridled herds. No exaggeration there. Unless it be one's case that Kashmir without Kashmiris is more valuable real estate. A great pity and tragedy it would be if the latter view was allowed to prevail or is permitted to gain currency. Let's in the meantime join the fun and games now that Donald Trump has conceded New Delhi's view that Syed Salahuddin's is the evil genius that keeps the Kashmir pot boiling. But, for heaven's sake, do remember that Salahuddin is Yusuf Shah is from Soibug in Budgam district on the outskirts of Srinagar and one who flew out of the valley when we would not allow him to celebrate what many believe was his victory in a long forgotten election to the State Assembly. That, though, is history and not relevant to the designs of the ruling dispensation in New Delhi. Box
Much of what is eating up Kashmir now is New Delhi's refusal to admit that it is set to pursue a course that can, and certainly will, lead to disaster.