United In Contradictions

Governments in Kashmir are condemned to follow a code like some condemned members of a condemned cult. The code is to let contradictions rule. In 1996, when the National Conference returned to power after its leaders had had a long vacation in London, Jammu and various parts of India, it claimed that it would restore the people’s faith in the system. In the six years till then, the anti-India revolt had transformed the system, if not completely overthrown it. Had the party embraced the transformation, accepted the fact that the people wanted a change in a system that had reduced to nothing but a military-police-Ikhwan-spy agencies complex, it would not have become a residual political force begging New Delhi for a role. Rather than make even a feeble attempt at changing the system, the NC tried to shove it down the people’s throats by military means. The party is more associated with the Ikhwan, the Special Operations Group, the controversial Amarnath Shrine Board, handing over land to the army, the killing of unarmed protesters in 2010, etc., than words like “system” and “restoration” and “faith.”

Contradictions arise when there is a disproportion between one’s goals and one’s actions. Currently, the PDP is stowing tons of contradictions in the vulnerable areas of its wobbly ship. Chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has pledged to unite Kashmir with Jammu even though he has been watching his partner-in-power, the BJP, do everything to kill any hope of such a rapprochement. Can this unity of the two divisions of the state be achieved by giving permanent resident status to West Pakistan Refugees? Or by stoking communal tensions by starting yatras to environmentally fragile areas, calling for settlement of retired soldiers in the Valley, seeking land for apartheid-style townships for Kashmiri Pandits, allowing militant Hindu organizations like the VHP a foothold in the state, and saffronising the administration? Bulletins from the state public information department are replete with statements such as “Mufti vowed to make J&K a ‘Knowledge Hub’ of South Asia and assigned teachers the onerous and challenging task of changing the destiny of our talented youth.” Mr Sayeed does not say how, because when one gets accustomed to rule where such fatuous platitudes are staple, one doesn’t need to make sense. Here is a chief minister embarrassed to the core because his partner-in-power has not released money for post-flood rehabilitation for the past one year confidently announcing that the state, where schools don’t have toilets, would be made a ‘Knowledge Hub’ in South Asia. Please spare a battered people this daily dose of contradictions.