It is intriguing that the People’s Democratic Party, a political organisation which, among other things, had made a virtue of claiming to change the political and administrative culture in the state, is yet to make a formal declaration on whether it aims to achieve this objective by having former police officers with a penchant for making threatening phone calls to newspaper editors on its panel of “senior leaders.”
Thirty-six hours have passed since a former SOG officer, whom the PDP appears to have insinuated into its ranks, made a crude attempt to browbeat the Kashmir Reader over a news report on a party rally, detailing some of the officer’s exploits. Obviously, the mid-morning telephone call on Friday banked on the caller’s ‘reputation,’ assuming that that would convey the message in no uncertain terms. The gambit was bound to fail, and it did.
Accustomed as it is to bids, subtle as well as otherwise, to bully it into submission, the press deems pressure and intimidation from those wielding power as an occupational hazard, and brushes such tactics aside with the contempt they deserve. But what should concern the PDP apart from the now-raging disorder of political parties recruiting former bureaucrats and police officers, mostly with indifferent records, is the disingenuous manner it had adopted to further the practice, and has resorted to again to distance itself from its latest chapter.
The language the former SOG officer used in his telephone call to the editor of this newspaper (“Have I killed any of your relatives? Are you a messiah of the Kashmiris? Today it is your day, tomorrow it could be mine”) speaks amply of his qualifications to feature among the PDP’s galaxy of leaders, and the ‘culture’ the party has envisioned for future Kashmir.
But still, after trying to pull another fast one on Kashmir with an innocuous-sounding press release, the party should not try to save face in roundabout ways. It must act upfront, and make a clear, unambiguous statement about the status of the former SOG officer, and explain how it came to imbibe practices viewed with grave concern across the sub-continent.