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Political “Dementia” In Kashmir

By Mohammad Ashraf

02 September, 2015

Most of the politicians especially from the so called mainstream in Kashmir seem to be suffering from a severe memory loss medically known as “Dementia”!

Dementia means loss of memory. It is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.It occurs either due to a brain disease known as Alzheimer’s or due to senility of old age. In both cases, the loss of memory is often irreversible. Usually, one first loses recent memory which is the ability to remember and recall things in immediate past and then with the severity of the disease, the remote or distant memory is also lost. It is also said that memories associated with traumatic incidents do not go away and remain etched in one’s sub-conscious mind. Our politicians seem to be suffering from both the recent and the remote memory loss and also seem to have blank sub-conscious mind with no memories at all of all the traumas suffered by Kashmiris in the recent and the remote past!

The previous ruling set up spent 6 years reminding everyone that they are going to remove the draconian legislation AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) which gives total immunity to the security forces for committing the grossest violations of the human rights. They passed into oblivion without even touching the fringes of the Act! They also kept on harping about the restoration of Autonomy while very conveniently forgetting the fact that they themselves had participated in its complete dilution leaving the name only on the statute book.

The Kashmiri part of the present dispensation started with the case of the immediate loss of an instance of the remote memory, the so called “Self-rule”!Right from their first tenure they had been suggesting a special formula for the final peaceful solution of the decades old Kashmir problem. One of the constituents totally forgot about the “Achievable Nationhood” authored by him. They jumped into the Hindutva cauldron, lock, stock and barrel! The most recent memory loss has been about the trauma of the last September’s flood supposed to be the most disastrous in a century. In fact, they had been continuously pleading for votes to keep the Hindutva extremists out of Kashmir. In an anti-climax they hugged the same on the plea that the only ways to rehabilitate the flood affected and restore the flood damages was to hug the devil in Delhi. Unfortunately, the bear hug did not yield any substantial benefits. On the contrary, they are being mauled by the Delhi bear from all sides.

The Hindutva partner, on the other hand, is not suffering from any dementia. In fact, they are every day reviving their recent and remote memories. In contrast to the Alliance understanding to keep the controversial issues on the back burner, they are raising these one after the other through their various front organisations. The first issue raised just after the swearing of the Modi Government was about Article 370. The Minister in Prime Minister’s Office gave an interview that the process for scrapping the article had been initiated. Then the issue of the settlement of West Pakistan refugees of 1947 as J & K State subjects was raised. Feelers were set afloat about the return and settlement of Kashmiri Pandits in Israeli type secure settlements. Extension of the Central Statistical Law was also hinted at. The final nail in the special status coffin was the Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India for scrapping Article 35-A. This was to remove the last barrier in displacing Kashmiris by settling outsiders and thus effecting a demographic change.

The most unfortunate part is that the people too are suffering from a severe strain of deliberate dementia. The typical example is the saying from the time of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. It is said that when Khrushchev the then leader of erstwhile USSR during his visit to Kashmir asked Bakshi Sahib as to how many Kashmiris were with him, he replied 40 lakhs. On being asked how many were with Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Sahib replied 40 lakhs. Finally, when Khrushchev asked what the population of Kashmir was, he was dumb founded on knowing it was 40 lakhs only! The story has been going on same lines since then. If one goes by the crowds and processions each politician is able to manage, Bakshi Sahib’s prophetic saying is vindicated. The prime reason for such behaviour is supposed to be material greed and the dishonesty promoted and patronised by outsiders during last 68 years. However, it is also evident that the majority of the common people have been left high and dry. They are very much alienated from the local as well as outside politicians. The alienation is starkly visible in the newer generation which is the product of the stormy nineties. Often it appears that the majority of elders is trapped in a whirlpool and is unable to get out of it. Ultimately, it may be the younger generation only which will cure the political dementia of both the politicians and the people. How soon that will happen is really a million dollar question!

Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired) a Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir


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