#Day33: It was Clash of Clichés Inside Parliament Over Kashmir  

Bilal Handoo

SRINAGAR

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A day after PM Narendra Modi desired to see a laptop instead of stones in Kashmiri youth’s hand while his HM Rajnath Singh terming Kashmir situation “serious”, the house of elders sat today to ‘simplify the complex’ of Kashmir’s renewed rage. No sooner the debate began in Rajya Sabha, the parliamentarians made Kashmir’s latest dissent as a peg to “dissect” Kashmir issue.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Congressman and the leader of Opposition spoke about Kashmir’s political past besides highlighting the piling pellet cases. The ex-J&K CM who had to quit office in face of 2008 Amarnath land row seemingly called for fresh political management of Kashmir’s core issue than its resolution.

Some other speechmakers expressed the need to be “brutally frank” with Kashmir, apparently setting off a sense that Kashmir was probably a “non-issue” for Indian parliament before.

Back home the live streaming of the Rajya Sabha debate was mostly breaking people into a bout of smirks and scoffs—if not, into smiles. With parliamentarians apparently behaving like “Nero” about Kashmir’s fresh “uprising” by repeatedly asking—“Aakhir, what made Kashmir so angry suddenly?”—the mood was turning irked. The sitting supposedly called to have a relook of Delhi’s Kashmir policies remained caught in the old, weary “window-viewing” of Valley—if not “Kite Flying”—as BJP’s Kashmir point-man would like one to believe.

And then there was the old gruff against the Padhosi Pakistan. “Unless you won’t treat the source of poison [Pakistan], treatment won’t help,” a MP from UP suggested. Before he could sit back, an excited Tamilian who swore by Amma (Jayalalithaa) informed House how Kashmiri saffron is being fed to gestating Indian mothers for giving birth to “beautiful child”. His short, “stirring” speech left many touché. Even deputy chairman couldn’t stop calling it “patriotic, emotional speech”, if not outburst propelled by his recent “mesmerising” Kashmir visit. With deputy chairman apparently equating saffron with patriotism, BJP members were caught smiling on camera.

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But for the day when the Opposition was playing “Rambo” in parliament as per Trinamool Congress member Derek O’Brien, the pellet rain in valley was fuelling some stirring speeches at Delhi. Calling for its immediate ban, many members sounded “anguished” over pellet blinding—earlier equated with “wife beating” by controversial DG CRPF Durga Prasad.

Some members were confused as “how Maqbool Sherwani’s Kashmir became Maqbool Bhat’s Kashmir and How Master Aziz’s Kashmir became Burhan Wani’s Kashmir”. While political introspection was repeatedly sought to undo the “hate”, many members rose up to make wild allegations. One Sikh member who admitted to had been tasked to eliminate 50 Khalistani rebel commanders during eighties told the house how “Kashmiri Sikhs are feeling insecure in valley presently”.

But what the Sikh parliamentarian couldn’t tell was how scores of Sikhs from Tral were shedding tears over Burhan Wani’s passage lately.

Political clichés equally proved lows of the debate. The members spared none. From Narisimha Rao to Atal Biharai Vajpayee, the prime ministers of yore’s Kashmir managerial methods were invoked beyond count.

And then, rose the PDP member Nazir Laway to deliver his near breakdown speech. He sought “Azeem” nation’s attention toward Kashmir. In his adrenaline-filled address, he ended up making goof ups. He called Burhan Wani (who left home for Jihad ten days before his Class 10 exams) a “TDC” pass who was “dreaming to become a doctor”.

While mimicking his party leader Mehbooba Mufti’s art of speaking, Laway’s colleague Mir Fayaz was perhaps the only member who could tell the real picture of Kashmir in parliament: “People demand Aazadi! I left home 3:00 in the morning to reach here. Rage is unabated.”

Before him, the grey-haired vocal Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury termed Kashmir situation “a string of betrayals”. He invoked Kashmir history and Pakistan’s “meddling” in it. “If Vajpayee and Advani could talk to Hurriyat, why can’t you,” he said, pointing toward the nodding Home Minister. Adjacent to him, the JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav sought redressal of Kashmir’s rage: “If Kashmir is our integral part, then why to use pellet against it?” He was apparently pained to observe: “why Kashmiris aren’t loving Indians, like we do?!”

Para-military CRPF men manning Srinagar streets after clashes with protesting youths. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)
Para-military CRPF men manning Srinagar streets after clashes with protesting youths. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

Modi’s junior minister Jitendra Singh sounded more of a poet than politician by invoking couplet after couplet. The erstwhile professor sought participation of every stakeholder in Kashmir’s “pain”. For Singh who wanted to close Kashmir’s “old chapter”, the writings questioning India’s ill policies—especially in Kashmir—are “career-building” and “intellectual terrorism”. But despite steering his speech with repeated reminders—“we should rise above party lines to address Kashmir”—Singh could only speak his party, BJP’s language.

But his wasn’t only irony of the debate.

Before the home minister could term the latest Kashmir dissent as “Pakistan-sponsored” besides announcing an all-party meeting in the state on August 12 as Delhi’s old “antidote”, one member made a glaring difference to the debate by redefining Vajpayee’s old Kashmir cliché of Kashmiriyat, Jamhoriyat and Insaniyat.

“It should be Kashmiriyat, Jamhoriyat, Insaniyat, Jammuiyat and Ladakiyat.” The member who said it happens to be the last prince of Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Karan Singh, who asserted: “I am a bit clear than others on Kashmir.”

The king is dead, long live the king!

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