Good CM, Bad CM

Politicians lie. It is part of the job description. But there the charitable view ends, particularly for the breed called ‘mainstream’ politicians in J&K. In fact, that ‘mainstream’ is what damns them because of the role they play – and one is specifically talking of Kashmiri-origin politicians here, not the likes of the BJP, who are, by and large, clear in their agenda, and arguably more preferable than the dissembling, hypocritical lot that pretends to be Kashmiri and having some residual milk of human kindness for the Kashmiri people. Take the matter on which notable worthies like the current and the former CMs are apparently taking issue with each other: that of the role of the Indian army, and the question of its removal from some areas of Kashmir. The current CM, presumably desirous of wanting to be seen taking a ‘tough line’ with the Indian military, told it in a meeting that its footprint needed to be reduced. The former CM talked back, saying that ‘the army can’t be withdrawn overnight.’ In police-detective soaps, this would be classified as two comrades-in-arms playing ‘good cop bad cop.’ Because both of them, and their ilk, know perfectly well that their very existence depends on the presence and the role of the Indian army. That is their predicament as the ‘mainstream wallahs.’

The question of what a 7 lakh-strong (by most accounts) army, not counting all the ancillaries, is doing in Kashmir, fighting, according to its own estimates, a few hundred militants, is beyond obvious. It does not even need to be asked. Take the hypothetical proposition of the Indian army being ‘reduced’ or confined to their barracks or the borders in this land. Would the CMs, former as well as present, expound on what would happen then? Would they, perchance, dare to even venture out of their cavalcades or address a public meeting? The simple fact is that this sham of a democracy was imposed on Kashmir at the point of a gun, and it continues to exist with the threat of those guns looming, like a sepulchral shadow, over almost every aspect of life in Kashmir. Has the current CM forgotten what happened in Kashmir during his tenure as the home minister of India? Has his predecessor forgotten that he came on TV basically threatening more ‘hard response’ as his regime slaughtered kids on the streets in 2010?

People have long memories. And they will keep remembering, howsoever deep the attempts to enforce their silence and forgetting.