The politics in Kashmir valley reminds of a beautiful joke which I had once quoted in these pages. Swami Agnivesh may not like to be reminded of it but in his electioneering days, he used to be a delightful storyteller. His most devastating one was about a village moneylender who was woken up by his wife one night as she heard strange sounds in the house.
“Do something, there are robbers in our house,” she pleaded. “It’s too dangerous. The clever thing is to pretend to be asleep, jaanhai to jahaanhai…” (The world matters only if you live) said the Lalaji. “You are such a chicken and you claim to be a man,” the wife said, tauntingly. “I maybe a man, bhaagwan, but I am your man, not that of the robbers. So go back to sleep,” the Lalaji ended the argument.
To strengthen the governance facilitation and public participation at the grass root level, both state and centre governments had said that the key impact of local democracy in Jammu and Kashmir will be the rebirth of a grassroots political class after the Panchayat elections.
From April to June last year, a staggering 79 per cent of Jammu and Kashmir’s 5.07 million registered voters had participated in the Panchayat elections.The 17-phase election saw the birth of 4,130 Sarpanchs and 29,719 Panchs.
If the memory of the Kashmiri people was sharp (because we too often forget things very soon and too often), these words were first said when the elections for the Municipal Council were held in the state. The elected lot was never given those promised rights, nor a say in the public policy making. They were, as one political commentator put it, elected to get killed!
Many councilors were killed after the elections were held. These elections were celebrated as the trump of democracy over the larger political aspirations of people of Kashmir. What happened to those “elected councilors” is the matter of debate after they came into “power.” Their situation was worse than the wife of Lalji and the government did nothing better than Lalji . The councilors were very soon made to realize that the government was their Lalaji, not of others.
In north Kashmir town of Baramulla, more than four of them were killed, one after another, in the council of almost ten members. Rest all resigned and saved their lives.
As the fear grips the north Kashmir villages again after the killing of two Sarpanchs,a question arises once again;were these people only made to be killed or was the state government in a mood to make them satellite states like Russia had during the cold war. Whatever the policy, the only thing that you would notice these days is rush of hundreds to declare that they “in their right state of mind are declaring that they are resigning from the post of Panchs/Sarpanchs. And where is the police,our lalaji, yours and mine.
Phillip Gorvices in his excellent book on Rwanda,We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families,quotes a Tutsi saying they waited and waited for that movement when they will be killed although that movement never came but the wait killed more than hundreds in the camps.That is the exact situation with these Panches/Sarpanchs. Their wait to get killed is killing them from inside.