From his sound physique, tremendous verbal energy, easy-going nature and all that dancing and singing, it does not appear that Dr Farooq Abdullah is in the grip of debilitating senility that made him call Kashmiris maha chor (biggest thieves). He is the darling of party circles in New Delhi. Like his son, he is also the favourite of photographers. On the city pages of various Indian dailies, you would find him posing with corpulent Punjabi women, or a designer, or a B-grade film star. And mostly, he is willing to play jester as soon as you put a mike before him. It appears that his legendary father had, on his deathbed, whispered in his ear that his job from then on was to entertain Indians.
Farooq Abdullah’s description of Kashmiris as maha chor is a sign of a disease that can be explained only inadequately by referring to his clownish behaviour or his personality. Take, for example, the case of Uttar Pradesh. It is India’s communal cauldron. If a fascist like Narendra Modi is elected the prime minister of this nation of 1.2 billion people, the credit goes to the rightwing fascists of this state who destroyed a medieval mosque. The highest number of communal riots has taken place in this state last year, despite the fact that a supposedly pro-Muslim party is in power. And most of the victims of these clashes are Muslim. Train dacoity is still common there, so is honour killing, anti-woman diktats, female foeticide and caste atrocity. Many assembly constituencies have uninterrupted power supply because power distribution companies cannot afford the enmity of legislators, some of whom have 50 criminal cases against them. But no chief minister of that state has ever abused the people, though he might not be sharing the religion or caste of a majority of them.
Narendra Modi, vying to become the prime minister of India, staged that fake drama of not being able to come to terms with the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat. But let us take his Twitter confession of on face value. By his admission, what happened to Muslims then emerges as barbarous; a brutal occurrence that had the power to unsettled him. Hundreds of thousands of Gujaratis actually participated in the murder and loot, while the majority seemed to approve of the mass murder of innocent men and women. But have you ever heard Modi calling his people communalists, even though he would be justified in calling them so. Instead, he is holding them up as an example for people in other Indian states.
In Tamil Nadu, it is now a routine for politicians to offer TV sets and other freebies to attract voters. But Jayalalitha never calls them beggars. When it comes to the interest of their own people, the chief ministers – past aand present – of the state jeopardise India’s foreign policy vis-a-vis Sri Lanka.
Rajasthan tops the list of Indian states which have consistently registered losses in the power sector. Jammu and Kashmir comes fifth on the list. Rajasthan doesn’t have power cuts as long as in Kashmir. And no Rajasthan chief minister has ever called Rajasthanis chor.
Why then is Farooq Abdullah enraged at his own people who, he claims, have elected his party more times than any other political group? Because it is an affliction not unique to him. One Kashmiri politician fit to be given a posthumous verbal lashing is Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad. He is the one to have uttered that oft-repeated line – 4 million Kashmiris are with everyone – which, in fits of self-deprecation, we often like to quote. So there is a tradition among the worst of Kashmiri politicians and sundry to denigrate their own people.
This affliction allows Hassan Mir, who has been declared a “ring leader of Indian agents” by both Hurriyat G and Farooq Abdullah’s brother Mustafa Kamal, to criticise the people’s liberation struggle.
Farooq Abdullah is not alone in this enterprise. Soon after entering the Kashmir Administrative Service, many youngsters start to target the people of this enslaved territory for not “being educated and positive enough,” as if Kashmiris had been labouring for centuries only to bring upon themselves the misery and pain they are going through.
In the league of Farooq Abdullah, we have newspaper editors who have become chief critics of Kashmiris. They don’t call them thieves, but the picture they paint of Kashmiris in their newspapers funded by Indian agencies is not different. And interestingly, these critics once used to wield a Kalashnikov rifle wearing a Khan Dress and “Jawala” boots.
The biggest symptom of this affliction seems to be the impatience its victims show. An editor-cum-collaborator seems to be pissed off with the doggedness with which the people continue to resist. He/she wants them to be like him/her. Farooq Abdullah wants them to be like him – a politician who one day says that India had converted Kashmir into a garrison, and the very next day wants the same country to bomb Pakistan. Similarly, a comprador-journalist wants people to be like him and enjoy the state’s crumbs, rather than being the uncomfortable reminders to his pathetic existence. Mufti Sayeed or Farooq Abdullah or the agents moonwalking as journalist don’t bother Hassan Mir. He is bothered by a Geelani refusing to surrender. So is Farooq Abdullah.
Farooq Abdullah’s Wikipedia page is very bland. But it contains a gem, which says: “His only qualification was that he was the son and heir of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah.” I am yet to read his son’s page. It won’t be any different. And don’t be surprised if Junior calls us something nastier than maha chor.