Apart from words like autonomy, self-rule and greater autonomy, the Muslims of the state need to be wary of the word ‘empowerment’ now. The abject surrender of Mehbooba Mufti for power indicates that New Delhi is now not interested in even assigning the traditional role of managers to Kashmiri pro-India politicians. In its traditional form, such a role strategically kept pro-India politicians in a comfortable position, where they could defend their position as the one borne out of necessity or the impossibility of the situation. In the saffronised polity, there is no scope for ambiguity.
If a Mufti or an Abdullah really believes in the idea of India, they now need to be explicit about it. Having been emasculated politically thus and having been deprived of even the prestige of lording over ‘development’ with New Delhi money, what will PDP sell to the people? Besides rhetoric, like Mehbooba’s statement Sunday that ‘she will bring back smiles on people’s faces’, we might witness some symbolic gestures aimed at restoring some form of legitimacy to pro-India politicians. However, people need to remain vigilant of such tactics and constantly awaken themselves to the systematic disempowerment that has and will continue to occur under pro-India politicians.
For example, seven government employees were suspended on charges of instigating protests over the killing of five people in Kupwara recently. The orders of their suspension have emanated from the office of the deputy commissioner Kupwara, who has been accused of acting at the behest of the rightwing forces. It is clear that the emasculation of the pro-India politicians is so complete that PDP couldn’t stop their suspension. The party has in its ranks Haseeb Drabu, who wrote some impassioned pieces in newspapers on the need for preserving ‘sub-nationalistic’ character of the state. Mehbooba Mufti herself protested like these employees when killings happened in this fashion in the past. These seven employees were effectively doing what Mehbooba did in her zeal to build the party. Contrast the killings and suspension of employees with total absence of any punitive action in case of a murderous assault on a courier boy and teacher at the NIT, killing of Muslim Gujjars and burning of their huts by rightwing thugs in Jammu areas, killing of Kashmiri drivers during 2008 agitation and many such events. Therefore the people and the resistance need to gear up for exploring alternative ways of empowering themselves. A step in this direction would be to never lose sight of the dealings of pro-India politicians which have historically resulted in only disempowerment.