We are under Governor’s rule, for the umpteenth time, and he has just appointed advisors, signaling the possibility of another long gubernatorial regime. To that extent, it is reminiscent of the ’90s. What is of interest, however, is the apparent lack of involvement and interest among the people of Kashmir on the state of the administration. Sure, there is speculation on what might happen; but that is only of a somewhat different magnitude than the prospect of snowfall. There is none of the fervent political activity, or even anxiety or sense of crisis, at a popular/mass level, one might witness elsewhere in the subcontinent and other parts of the world in such a situation. And that fact is yet another indication of the massive, basic and underlying, rupture between the people’s core political aspirations and what exists by way of the political structure. Take even the current political class, the pro-India parties, themselves. None of them is in any seeming hurry to form the government. They seem quite happy at the state being overtly, directly being run by Delhi. This, in turn, also underlines their own, deeper, sense of being fundamentally irrelevant and replaceable. In other words, they know they are proxies. Commitment to ensuring democracy for the people, of course, is a no-brainer.
And it is a no-brainer because the so-called ‘democratic structure’ is itself a proxy for something else: Indian rule enforced via the military apparatus. Remember, ‘democracy’, or the voter-lines-as-democracy-
charade, was enforced in Kashmir (after the mass insurgency started in 1989) at the point of a gun in 1996. Then, people were threatened and literally marched to polling booths. That coercion has evolved, and has sought to elide itself via the system of patronage, pelf and power. That is why the structure is only really concerned with ‘managing’ elections and presenting the spectacle of voter-lines as evidence of the success of its act of eliding.
In fact, wherever one turns, whichever facet of Kashmiri socio-economic and political life one examines closely, one encounters that irreducible reality. The whole system is geared towards control, even of ideas and aspirations, but that, as always, is an approach doomed to fall on the wrong side of history.