By Khursheed Wani
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s latest Delhi visit was exclusively aimed at seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s practical support in addressing the explosive situation in the embattled state. She also met with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Home Minister Rajnath Singh during her stay. An official spokesman said she pleaded for effective measures including political engagement in Kashmir to bring about normalcy. She emphasized on the need to hold dialogue with Pakistan and seamless engagement between army chiefs of the two countries.
Ms Mufti may have got assurances as has been the practice in the past but to her dismay, the betrayal was only round the corner. Before she could wind up her visit and return with a bagful of promises, Kulgam district in south Kashmir plunged into crisis. During a counterinsurgency operation, the army failed to kill or capture Lashkar-e-Toiba militants as protesters armed with anger and dissent stormed the hideout to help them escape. In retaliation, four protesters were killed. In a span of 10 days, eight civilians were killed in similar circumstances. One of the slain youngster’s marriage was scheduled in next fortnight.On the fresh carnage, Mehbooba did not issue the customary statement to advise the forces to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOP). Maybe, off late, she realized the actual meaning of the acronym? The textbook definitions often do not match the practical translations on the ground. In case of Kashmir, they seldom did.
The unbridled civilian killings with brute impunity continued in Kashmir simultaneously with the gut-wrenching events around the planned abduction and subsequent gruesome rape and murder of 8-year-old Asifa Banoo in Kathua. The incident has direct linkage with the much-touted North-police South Pole alliance. The Alliance encouraged the bigots to take the extreme step to instil fear among the Muslim nomads to the extent that they surrender the territory. The Asifa murder is the extension of a cleansing process that began in the region in the 1930s and saw tens of thousands of Muslims being massacred in the region in 1947. Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP remained complicit when it chose to play second fiddle from the day one of the coalitions.
At this juncture, it is extraneous to discuss whether the coalition with BJP was the lone viable choice in the beginning of 2015 when a strong Modi was ruling the roost. However, it is not irrelevant to dispassionately view the outcome at any point in time.
If you have travelled miles on a wrong road and realize the misdirection midway, the wisdom demands an immediate U-turn, irrespective of how much time and energy has been exhausted.
Ironically, in Mehbooba’s case, the realization is far from sight. The dictum of the think tanks of the party is to enjoy rape when it is inevitable. They don’t listen to the fact that rape can never be enjoyable whatever the circumstances be, inevitable or otherwise. For an academic discussion, if Muftis’ had chosen an alternate route when it came to the formation of a coalition, what worse would have happened to the state than what has already happened?
The PDP finds itself between the devil and deep sea. After spending more than three years in coalition it has not yielded anything but disgust, humiliation, surrender and capitulation. The BJP ordered to re-imprison Masrat Alam and Mufti buckled. He was publicly rebuked by Modi and they did not utter a word. No matter the word Hurriyat Conference was injected in the Agenda of Alliance in the list of stakeholders but its leadership was jailed rather than engaged in dialogue.
The BJP boastfully boycotted the July 13, official function at Martyr’s graveyard but Mehbooba Mufti unveiled feudal ruler Hari Singh’s statue in Jammu. And to top it all, the civilian killings continued unabated and vision blindness epidemic proliferated. In this scenario, if the mere mention of Mehbooba Mufti or her party in public evokes hooting and hatred, it is not altogether misplaced.
Kashmir is not any other place where people can be won over with hollow slogans of development and bookish reforms. It is a political dispute where people’s existence and survival is at stake. The safety of life, honour and dignity is the primary concern of the people. The attempts to offset the political aspirations with building roads, organizing events and inviting planeloads of tourists have miserably failed. Any ruler who believed in these prescriptions has been discredited.
It is high time for the PDP to reassess its alliance with BJP at a time when Modi’s authority and aura is on a perpetual decline. Like the National Conference was consumed by a series of betrayals, the PDP also followed suit. The NC could withstand because it was deeply entrenched to the generations of people. The PDP has no comparable history and expanse. If it continues to be consumed the way it has been for the past three years, it will soon erase from the public memory. Nevertheless, the party will remain in the memory of the people whose young sons were killed or the persons who have lost their vision. Imagine, seventy years from now, Insha, in her old-age narrating the tale of how she was blinded.