If one were only to pick up newspapers of the six years preceding the PDP-BJP coalition’s rule and compare statements of the Muftis with the statements now made by National Conference leaders, it appears Kashmiris are living one unending nightmare.
Here is a sample, a statement made by Mehbooba Mufti during Muharram two years ago when the NC was in power: ‘Condemning the use of force on Ashura mourners at Residency Road today, PDP said the government has not spared even a religious and emotional occasion like this…In a statement, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said that muzzling dissent on political and administrative fronts has become a hallmark of the government and use of its favourite methods of teargas and lathicharge to prevent a religious process is an index of its complete bankruptcy… she said the ban must go once and for all and mourners should be allowed to use their traditional routes as had been the practice for decades before the ban was enforced.’
The police brutality on Muharram mourners, who try to take out processions along traditional routes, is an annual ritual now. It will be forgotten after two days. And Mehbooba need not explain why mourners were mercilessly thrashed this time while her party is in power, although she is capable of coming up with a dozen reasons. Don’t be surprised if she even condemns the police brutality and asks her own government to allow the main Muharram procession, if only to reenact a farce. While many more farces are in store as long as this government lasts—they won’t stop even after a different dispensation takes charge—people need to step back and calmly ponder to what extent they are responsible for inviting this misery upon themselves by voting these politicians to power. They need to ask themselves that if they have not been able to force any civilian government since 1996 to decide on a sensitive religious issue like Muharram procession, do their votes really count? It is a fact that pro-freedom activities will not be allowed. In fact, they will be crushed with brute force. But what prevents hordes of people, who voted in expectation that their elected representatives will rebuild their lives after last year’s flood, from coming onto streets and seeking answers to questions of purely administrative nature from their legislators? Since voters forget what their rulers say and never question them, it appears they are destined to suffer them cyclically.