Razor’s Edge

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Riyaz Rashid

Thanks to Mufti-Modi coalition, RSS is a reality in Kashmir now. From once a fringe group of over enthusiastic Hindus who had no base, no say,and limited access to Kashmir’s power corridors, the group is now a major stakeholder in J&K politics. Last week’s rally in Jammu where RSS men openly brandished swords and guns was more of a political statement than a random act of celebrating a festival. Incidentally, the rally came days after a Kashmiri trucker Zahid was burned to death by the members of the same group in Udhampur. But this was not the first instance where RSS and its allied forces had attacked Kashmiris in parts dominated by them on Srinagar-New Delhi route. Such attacks are regular occurrence but hardly make to the newspaper front pages. However, Udhampur attack was unlike other attacks, as it was orchestrated by the right-wing RSS to reinforce their monopoly over single supply line that feeds Kashmir. It was the first warning shot from RSS telling Muslim majority Kashmiris to fall in line or face consequences.  There are many such warning shots to Mufti’s credit in his seven month tenure. In another first of sorts, RSS man turned MLA Ravinder Raina assaulted independent lawmaker Er Rashid inside the legislative assembly complex for organizing a beef party! A few days later, the unapologetic Raina was seen donningRSS colours: khaki half-pants, white-shirt and a red cap, during a RSS organized function in Jammu. He was not the only one from Mufti’s coalition partners to attend the communally charged function, state legislative assembly speaker Kavinder Guptatoo smiled for the shutterbugs in his khaki.

In Srinagar,Mufti was busy inaugurating a string of “developmental projects” that his government intends to undertake with New Delhi’s blessings. During his official engagements he talked about everything under the sky but aggression shown by the RSS. The new-avataar mellowed Mufti is keen to sell Modi’s vision in Kashmir wrapped and sugar coated in Vajpayee’s dream. But are there any takers! It seems the initial enthusiasm of Mufti’s good governance has worn off quickly, after PDP failed to stand up for the people’s rights in wake of BJP and RSS onslaught. People are already talking, not in hushed up manner, but boldly against Mufti’s ideological surrender to BJP. Despite heading the coalition people have understood that the reins of power actually lie with BJP, and not Mufti as projected at the time of getting into the alliance.

The larger question that everybody on the politically charged streets of Kashmir seems to be asking is how long Mufti can use terms like tourism, prosperity and lasting peace, friendship with Pakistan, to curtain BJP and RSS designs.

Mufti’s helplessness to rein-in on his coalition partner BJP has dented moral of Kashmiris who ousted Omar Abdullah’s government for the same reason. The thinking on the streets is how much more damage before Mufti finally wakes up. His silence is not only painful but damaging for Kashmir.

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