A Home Ministry statement issued last week said that New Delhi had been in touch with Kashmir leaders, and went on to add that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had met a former intelligence officer in November last year. Fortunately, the disclosure has not served the intended purpose. Vested interests have always tried to erode the credibility of the leadership here by issuing such statements. But taught by experience to see through such tactics, the people of Kashmir do not fall prey to this machination. New Delhi deployed similar strategies against Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. He was intimidated and ultimately blackmailed into submission.
But times have changed and so have the people of Kashmir. It is the government of India that has to prove its sincerity viz-a-viz Kashmir. New Delhi betrayed the Sher-e-Kashmir, and then the individual used to dethrone him in 1953 too was discarded. It stabbed Dr Farooq Abdullah in the back, but he failed to learn the lesson. The state constitution was vandalized in the name of so-called integration. Article 370 of the Indian constitution guaranteeing special status to Jammu and Kashmir was eroded over the past five decades. The Kashmiris, therefore, have no reason to trust the government of India.
There is no denying the fact that the leadership here has, at times, committed mistakes, but it commands respect and makes millions of hearts resonate. Criticism notwithstanding, people trust their leaders. This casts a duty on the leadership to stay prudent. There is no scope for secret diplomacy in revolutionary politics. Nobody has opposed the meetings Kashmir’s leaders have held with politicians in Delhi, or intelligence officers. But people have a right to know as to what happens during such exercises which, the leadership must bear in mind, remain secret only as long as New Delhi wishes so. Finally a time comes when it decides to go public on the issue and the leaders are caught on the wrong foot. This problem can be addressed if the leadership is open with the public. This, on the one hand, will ensure transparency and mass involvement in the decision-making process, and on the other, enhance the credibility of the leaders. There is absolutely no need to hide material facts from the public. The masses must be taken on board.