Kashmir At Cross-Roads
By Mohammad Ashraf
23 February, 2015
(It is a tragedy that whenever Kashmir has been at the cross roads of history, its leaders have taken the wrong turn because of some deficiencies in the basic character of its people among whom these leaders rose!)
Two political parties with totally incompatible ideologies are going to very soon announce the formation of a “popularly” elected government after reportedly agreeing for a common minimum programme. One wonders what can be the common minimum programme between such diametrically opposed parties. Probably some secret understanding as is usually common in different “family” members in the American context? They help each other to stay relevant as otherwise there is likely hood of theirs being swept away by the flood of popular sentiment as happened in Delhi. The virtual tsunami which swept away BJP from the “heart” of India, Delhi, needs to be offset. There is no better choice than to capture the “crown” of India at all costs! The present Indian state can put all the controversial issues on the back-burner temporarily, of course after having a tacit understanding with its mentors that the non-state actors can continue the refrain till a suitable and conducive atmosphere is attained. Losing Kashmir after having lost Delhi may start a tide in the reverse direction which BJP can ill afford at the present juncture. Because of this reality they seem to have agreed to all demands except the controversial ones which form their long term agenda. These have been reportedly shelved for the time being and this is being conveyed in a very diplomatic language leaving the door open for their resurrection at an appropriate time.
But the question is what PDP would be getting out of this alliance? The main plea has been that an alliance with a strong and stable central government alone has the possibilities of solving Kashmir’s immediate problems. Of course, the past experience has shown that Delhi can put the local government in Kashmir in a squeeze especially regarding funds for development as well as for day to day running. Whichever government comes to rule in Delhi has a different yardstick for Kashmir than all other states. There are no two opinions about it. But that is true for the governments which have been virtually installed by Delhi. A supposedly “popular” government should not normally have any such apprehensions as they can always take Delhi head on! However, it is also true if any government releases the purse strings, they do take their pound of flesh! PDP will have to bear in mind that they are borrowing money from Shylock!
With contentious issues on a temporary hold, there may be appreciable thrust in restoration and development as happened after the dethroning of Sheikh Abdullah and installation of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in 1953. However, the basic discontent will remain simmering under and could burst out like molten lava as happened in 1963/64 notwithstanding the fact that the trigger for such upheaval may be totally different. PDP will be doing a tight-rope walk and would have the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. Their chief spokesperson while commenting on Omar Abdullah’s accusation of a sell-out, has said that the previous NC and Congress governments have left nothing in Kashmir to sell. He has promised to retrieve most of the sold things. One wishes him good luck especially in view of the ghar wapsiprogramme of the Hindutva brigade!
Kashmir could be once again at the cross-roads of history. In the recent times, it has been happening like that quite often since 1931. It is a fact that the 1931 agitation for basic rights was by the Muslim masses who were the sufferers for centuries. However, the movement was turned by the “leaders” into a nationalistic movement in 1938. That was the first cross road where they took the wrong turn as has been amply demonstrated by the happenings since then. Even now, it is the Kashmiri Muslims who are a worried lot. None of the present so called “leaders” have the courage to declare that the present problem principally pertains to the Muslims of Kashmir valley. It is they who are scared of BJP because of their declared intentions to integrate Kashmir fully and turn India into a Hindu State. These intentions have already been demonstrated by some actual happenings across India which has created apprehensions in the minds of the people. If PDP is able to stop this process as regards Kashmir and also end harassment of the people on the ground by the security forces armed with AFSPA, they may bring in some relief notwithstanding their lofty slogans of self-rule and so on. People opposing the alliance have to bear in mind that no mainstream party is in a position to demand fulfilment of the ultimate aspirations of Kashmiris. These parties can only try to end harassment and give good governance. Nothing beyond that! If they fail even in this, then they will have no ghar wapsi for themselves in Kashmir!
Mohammad Ashraf I.A.S. (Retired) Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir ,www.kashmirfirst.com
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