The Proverbial“Red Rag”!
By Mohammad Ashraf
17 September, 2015
The invoking of the cow slaughter ban through public interest litigation in the state high court appears to be a deliberate proverbial red rag to provoke the Kashmiris!
The saying “Showing red rag to the bull” comes from the Spanish Bull Fight. During a Bull Fight, the Bull Fighter waves a red flag in front of the bull to provoke it. The bull gets enraged on seeing the red flag and rushes towards the bull fighter who then tries to pierce it with a sword. Sometimes the bull fighter can miss and get gored by the bull! Thus any action that provokes someone for a fight is called showing a red rag to the bull. People are provoked with a definite purpose. In the case of Kashmir, allegedly the purpose of provocation is on one side to inflict maximum damage on the budding new generation and on the other hand to get the people in general engrossed in non-issues thereby letting the main discourse go into background.
The law forbidding cow slaughter in Kashmir has been on the statute book since the time of Maharaja Ranbir Singh as part of the Ranbir Penal Code. In earlier times, people of Kashmir were not enamoured of beef. In fact, some people used to say that one should avoid beef as it is very “hot” for the body. Beef used to be sold in villages but clandestinely. It is only after the turmoil of nineties that people started taking beef and it became available more easily. Still majority of Kashmiris preferred mutton and that too lamb. Kashmir is not the only place where beef is consumed. North East, South India and in some other places the Christian population freely take beef. In fact, in all five star hotels beef is served. India exports crores worth beef products. Raising the bogey of beef in Kashmir is a politically motivated move. The most ironic part is that the PIL has been filed by the Deputy Advocate General of the State Government!
There have been many other provocations in recent times which are meant to provoke emotionally charged Kashmiris. The most used red rag is the bogey of removing Article 370 of the Indian constitution which gives a special status to J & K. In fact, the State’s accession is subservient to this very Act. If it is scrapped, the State’s relationship with the Indian Union reverts back to Instrument of Accession which is provisional and subject to ratification by the free will of the people. This proviso regarding ratification by the free will of the people has been written by Lord Mountbatten with a pen in his own handwriting on the instrument of accession. The latest in the series of constitutional red rags is the public interest litigation regarding Article 35-A which prohibits non-state subjects from owning land or property in the state.
The other red rags include the move for permanent settlement of West Pakistan refugees as state subjects; setting up of guarded townships for Kashmiri Panditsand settling of ex-service men in Sainik Colonies near Srinagar Airport. On the face of it such moves can be construed as measures to effect demographic changes in the state to alter its majority character. Apart from these, the planned steps intended to substantially increase the pilgrim traffic and the tourist inflow are alleged to be veiled steps to severely damage Kashmir’s ecology and environment. Amarnath Pilgrimage has already drastically affected the ecology of the area. Now, planned influx of 3 crore tourists will completely devastate the delicate environment. The most recent red rag is the alleged custodial killing of some militants in Tangmarg and Pattan. It has been alleged by some people that it is the revival of the “catch and kill” policy of nineties introduced in the time of the former DG Police, Mr.Bedi.
The really tragic aspect of this concerted campaign is the total apathy of the state government. The Kashmiri part of the ruling set up seems to be suffering from severe dementia. Not only have they forgotten their promises of securing a place of honour and dignity for the people but are actively participating in all these conspiracies hatched by their ruling partner in connivance with outside elements. The worst part is total lack of accountability in every sphere of governance and administration. There is a free for all! The only possible conclusion which one can draw from this mess is that nothing is going to straighten up unless the basic political uncertainty is ended. Every possible wrong breeds because of this political uncertainty. The instigators of these provocations also need to remember the truth that in real life the bull fighter called the Matador, on repeatedly showing the red rag to the bull sometimes gets fatally gored by it!
Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired) is Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir
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