Ruhullah Does It Again, Corners Omar Over His Silence

by Tasavur Mushtaq

SRINAGAR: Known for his virtual presence with an impressive following among Kashmir based politicians, former chief minister Omar Abdullah has an opinion on almost everything that happens around him, politically and personally. In Kashmir, he is the best-known example of “fastest fingers first” and was even called being “Twitter-happy”.

Agha Ruhullah Mehdi

Attracting attention as well as criticism for his almost relentless tweets, the tech-savvy vice -president of the erstwhile state’s oldest political party Monday was put in an uncomfortable situation, none other than by his senior party colleague, Agha Syed Ruhullah.

Muharram Mourning

As part of the practice, the first ten days of Ashura mourning witness Tazia processions from different parts of the valley on specific days. This year too, with precautions prevailing, processions were taken out, though the number was not that huge. But on different days, the mourners met the same fate of being dealt with force. The restrictions were put in place to thwart any attempt of gathering on the streets. As reported, at few places, pellets poured over the mourners. The injuries were reported.

As the news spread, this evoked strong condemnation, barring political, social, and sectarian ideologies. However, there was no word from Omar regarding the development which was even reported by the international media.

Apparently hurt, the party’s Shia face and three-time lawmaker from Budgam, Agha Rugullah expressed shock over the silence. Without naming Omar, Agha took on to Twitter and wrote, “You have a tweet for almost everything. For the last few days, they have been trying to pitch us against each other. They are sending a message to all of us by dealing with all the processions the way they did. I am astounded to see that you didn’t even have a single expression.”

Reacting to his assertion, PDP’s senior leader Naeem Akhtar emphasized unity, “We are us, Agha sahib,” he responded. Various other responses were accusing Omar of marinating silence over the critical issue.

Caught on the wrong foot, hours later, Omar retweeting the party statement condemned the “unwarranted” use of force against mourners. “Our unequivocal condemnation of the completely unwarranted use of force, including pellets, against Muharram mourners. This unprecedented crackdown goes against all norms that a civilised society would expect.”

The party too had not earlier spoken about the crisis. Later when the statement came from the party’s provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani, it termed the action of the police, “unwarranted, inhuman and discriminatory.”

There was also a demand for police action against those trying to give a communal angle to the incident.

Pertinently, a Delhi based journalist reacting to the use of force during Muharram accused Jammu and Kashmir Police.

The Spark

What led to this debate of Omar maintaining silence over the Muharram crisis was his interview to a Delhi based newspaper where he along with his father Dr Farooq Abdullah have talked in detail about different issues.

While talking about the nature of Jammu and Kashmir being Muslim majority, Omar had asked about the representative character of the government and said the make-up of current dispensation is of “non-Muslims”.

Omar Abdullah wishing his father Dr Farooq Abdullah on being elected as party president, again (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

“We are still a Muslim-majority state. Please look at the make-up of our administration today. Your LG is non-Muslim; chief secretary non-Muslim; DGP non-Muslim; both your divisional commissioners are non-Muslims; both your IGs of police non-Muslims; the chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir high court is non-Muslim; the rest of the high court bench, barring two judges, are all non-Muslims. How many of your deputy commissioners and SPs posted in Kashmir today are Kashmiri-speaking?” he is quoted to have said adding, “It may appear minor, but please understand these are the issues that resonate with people. We are not fundamentalist people. We don’t play the religious card, but when there is such a severe communal imbalance, there will be resentment.”

He has also dared to repeat Kashmir in Tamil Nadu. “You are trying to change the script in which Kashmiri is written. These are changes you are forcing on us and then saying ‘you are integrated’. Integration doesn’t come from a piece of paper. It comes from emotions. I have to feel integrated. If you change the script in which I am writing, you change the language in which an officer on the ground is addressing me, and then you turn around and tell me: ‘I am integrated.’ I am not. I dare you to do this in Tamil Nadu. I dare you to change their script and see what happens. There will be hell to pay there. Why do all experiments have to happen here?

Reacting to Omar what he said about the make-up of administration in Kashmir, BJP’s general secretary, and Kashmir point man, Ram Madhav reacted to his tilting towards the Hindu majority statement. He mocked Omar for not knowing how to speak Kashmiri when he (Omar) became MP. “What a low for Omar Abdullah, who himself couldn’t speak Kashmiri when he became an MP, to communalise d discourse to this level. As CMs he and his father always had non-Muslim but efficient officers as DG n CS.”

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