A few years ago, when PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig said in the assembly that Omar Abdullah’s name figures in the list naming politicians involved in the infamous sex scandal, the Abdullah family scion slumped in his chair. He was about to swoon. But while announcing the deaths of scores of boys in 2010, one couldn’t notice a trace of the pathos that nearly knocked Abdullah out in the assembly. This lack of empathy was attributed to many things—that he is less of a Kashmiri, that he was holidaying in Dachigam park when boys were being killed on the streets, that he has inherited politics like a family business and deals in people like they were a commodity.
But one couldn’t say the same about Mehbooba Mufti. Such was the effect of the hypnotic spell cast by her unique brand of politics that bred on the people’s misery. She would not only seem genuinely pained at the killing of a youth by government forces, she would also mourn with the bereaved family. These are the two extremes of pro-India politics. Omar Abdullah’s cold analyses of the 2010 uprising only evoked revulsion because it was devoid of any nuance that could be granted to a comprador militarized client administration as the one led by him.
Today, it appears that Omar Abdullah of 2010 is speaking through Mehbooba Mufti whose soul has been immobilized by the weight of her own contradictions. A party to the killing of people during street protests, she is justifying the killings on the one hand and declaring she won’t let the sacrifices of the slain go waste! The pronouncement is commercial in tone. She plans to squeeze some gain out of these sacrifices. If her own past is an indicator, she is probably right. She did make a career out of similar sacrifices.
Mehbooba grieved for her father for nearly two months. If it were not a coup some of her party legislators were planning, she would have mourned for a longer period. But under her rule, body of a teenager was hijacked by the police so that it shouldn’t reach his home before dusk. The body was kept in the Police Control Room for six hours and the mourning mother who was kept hostage too, fainted and had to be admitted to the hospital in the Control Room complex. The same chief minister expects people to believe in her phony empathy for the “poor boys” and their careers. After rubbing salt in people’s wounds, she is also insulting their intelligence.