The Year of Insomnia

Tasavur Mushtaq

Ikhlaqs-copy-picA midnight message in December woke me from deep sleep. With half shut eyes, a blurred image of 2016 appeared on my cellphone was surprising. For a moment, I wasn’t able to comprehend that a year has passed since December 2014. Few things about last December coming to my mind include fractured verdict, political storm, hot discussions, gripping cold, changing contours. And, hope in times of uncertainty.

I offered a silent prayer, a desire of every human, for the New Year to be ‘peaceful, prosperous, progressive’.

Not just sleep, the message woke me up from deep slumber. I reflected upon the state of affairs we are in. Even after passing of twelve months, we haven’t even moved a step forward. The negative thoughts and pessimism overpowered me to the extent that I didn’t find it comfortable to reply the text. The battery of my cell phone dried. And, I preferred to sleep and be in the denial mode, believing: All is well. The sleep wasn’t sound. I was thinking unwittingly about what happened in the last one year…

Border skirmishes were the first gift of 2015. The military might on both sides crushed our dreams of a peaceful life. Lives lost. Properties damaged. Hopes dashed. Even a confidence building measure fuelled cross-LOC bus service faced a ‘trust deficit’ suspension. Huge population pays the price if a single soldier violates the ceasefire agreement. Our fate hangs in balance!

As the common man was suffering for want of basic amenities, the ‘North-Pole South-pole had a veiled wedlock. To facilitate the merger, various permutations and combinations were tried. Deliberations took off. From Srinagar to Mumbai, the destinations were unfolding like a pack of cards. Strenuous efforts between green band of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed (PDP) and Saffron brigade of Narendra Modi (BJP) made it to front pages. The chief negotiators on both sides were equally poles apart in ideologies.

Meanwhile, the pot kept boiling. It was as if both the parties were adamant in not compromising their respective stands. People who voted and abstained were equally involved in government formation: setting rumour mills on fire that Mufti will shake hands with Modi.

Finally after over two months, Mufti, a staunch congressman of an era when the whole state was reveling in glory of being with Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, played his last gamble. He embraced Modi. He established himself as a regional force. A green party that projected itself to be the only antidote to the surging rightwing influence embraced the prospects of getting saffronized. ‘Agenda of Alliance’ talking about many things was drafted.

It was a universe of stars made to believe was ours. The Bar was raised. We could see things turning in our favour. Spring overtook the reigns from winter. The state Budget was presented and the idea was brilliant. What happened after twelve months is a different story. Controversies took the front seat, governance the backburner.

One after another, the legislators were seen busy in leg pulling and in the race of being the only savior at individual level. Mired in internal factionalism, the coalition partner also seems not to be in comfort zone.

Struggling with his health and issues of succession, Mufti, the maverick is much more mellowed. Accommodative. Not Mufti of 2002. He knows he is stuck. The bargain he had made didn’t fare well. Believed to be soft on separatists, he had to clampdown restrictions on most of them. Masrat Alam got his 31st PSA. The ‘battle of ideas’ never took off. He could not ‘heal the wounds’.

Now the government he heads is going on all sides. Everybody stretches it in his own direction. The sufferer is again a common man who now has lost the hope of ‘change’. The administration seems to be in doldrums. Bureaucrats, we are told, don’t pay heed to elected representatives. The highest seat of governance – Civil Secretariat, is no more jam-packed. Ministers spend most of time in activities which otherwise would have been taken care by some middle rung officials.

The security scenario is same or worse. The bloodbath continues. Graph of local youth joining militancy is on rise. No lethal weapon used earlier in mob control has been stopped. Ailing separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani is still not a free man. The draconian laws are still in vogue.

The much-talked about development is yet to show its face. Apart from macdamization of roads, nothing much has happened. Though we understand still five years are in their kitty, but the first steps haven’t been taken in the right direction. Providing free tuitions, or screening ReTs is not the solution. The belongingness is not there. Tourism no doubt is important, but not when the poor man sleeps on an empty stomach. An unemployed youth has no hope. Laadlibeti is fine, but not when her brother is killed silently on the street.

We understand importance of culture, heritage and our past. How we would comprehend only their essence when our present is in shambles. Future is uncertain. We are yet to come out of horror of deluge.

I, as a common inhabitant of this land, am not interested in festivities at Gulmarg or Pahalgam. I don’t attach importance to conclaves and seminars. My point is allow me to live with peace. Enable me to have a decent living. Let me have access to good healthcare. Death is inevitable, but let me not die of negligence. I am ready to pay taxes, fees and any other charge, but allow me to live a comfortable life which is due to me.

For both coalition partners, it holds true that the green lost its sheen in valley. Saffron faded in Jammu. Time is still on your side. Work on giving respite to the people who look at you with huge expectations. You may be experts but what matters is deliverance. Let people feel that there is a system in place.

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