NC’s Mortal Remains

The National Conference has hinted that one of its MLAs might move a resolution in the state assembly calling upon New Delhi to return the mortal remains of Muhammad Afzal Guru. This could be another step on the path the state’s oldest party has long been treading – the path of its own destruction and the destruction of the state’s distinct edifice.

How?

The NC would be demanding the mortals remains of an individual it shares nothing with, and whose hanging it did nothing to stop, except occasional noises about how shaky the case against him was. And while neither the noise, nor resolutions about resolutions, has done Guru any good, the collective conscience of Kashmiris has been further bruised.

Two empty graves at the Martyrs Graveyard in Eidgah, one for the mortal remains of Muhammad Maqbool Bhat and another for the mortal remains of Muhammad Afzal Guru, serve as grim reminders that no matter how appealing artificially constructed political realities in the state are, the state continues to be an unresolved dispute.

And while Afzal Guru’s long incarceration was punctuated by impassioned battles many Indian rights activists fought for his release, pointing out how he was being turned into a scapegoat to “satisfy the collective consciousness of the nation,” the only soothing gestures the National Conference could come up with was to allow people like former Special Operations Group officers Devendra Singh and Ashiq Bukhari a free hand – officers whose role in Guru’s entrapment has been depicted in detail by Arundhati Roy in her essay And His Life Should Become Extinct (the Outlook magazine, October 30, 2006).

The National Conference may have forgotten how it disallowed the then independent MLA, Engineer Abdul Rashid, from moving a similar resolution in the assembly two years ago, but how does it presume that Kashmiris too have – forgotten? Is there no limit to the party’s effrontery? No bar to its capacity to insult public wisdom?  Only weeks ago, the NC was almost on the verge of embracing the BJP to come back to power in the state, a party  that would never even let it even think of moving such a resolution. If the NC has to fall back on political posturing, does the posturing have to be so pathetic and hollow?

Piously, the chief minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, has made an appeal to the Opposition to play a constructive role during the budget session o the assembly. When the mortal remains of a person who most agree was unjustly hanged are about to be reduced to a farcical political game, the question of upholding democratic values such as the “Opposition’s’ positive role” just does not arise.