Government spokesman Naeem Akhtar made a very sinister statement two days ago. He essentially accused Kashmir Reader and Indian Express of attempting to sabotage Kashmir economy and tourism by instigating people to violence. The newspapers had carried reports about a proposal sent by a soldiers’ panel to the state government, seeking land for setting up residential colonies for serving and retired soldiers in Srinagar. Remember, Bharatiya Janata Party had in its assembly poll manifesto promised a Sainik Colony every district of the Valley. Government documents, which both newspapers have accessed, show there had been communication between various officials over the proposed colonies.
The government could have very well said that it has no intention of allotting land for such a colony and admitted it had received proposals. Instead, the government dismissed the reports as “highly provocative” and “parochial” and written with an intent to create unrest. In the backdrop of senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s revealing remarks, which he repeated twice in the past two months, which relegate PDP’s role to that of “fighting separatism”, Akhtar’s statement is not surprising. But the fact is that a news report is not an act of subversion or ‘separatism’. The overreaction to the reports, delivered as an indictment cum veiled threat, about the proposed Sainik Colony only substantiates Jaitley’s assigned role for PDP. Media is as aware of its roles and responsibilities as the government of its own. Before elections, the PDP told the electorate that come what may it won’t align with the BJP. But it did. Is there a guarantee PDP won’t compromise with whatever little has remained of Kashmir’s special status? Is it not the same party which abandoned responsibility when the Valley was thrown into turmoil in 2008 after its minister approved transfer of 800 kanals of land to Amarnath Shrine Board? Is it not responsible for deaths of 60 people who were killed during the uprising?
Allegations of “highly motivated” and “parochial” doesn’t sound good from the mouth of Akhtar, who used to write incendiary front-page opinion pieces in newspapers in the evening while serving the government during the day. Habitual of such deceit and hypocrisy, he is imagining the rest of the media in his own image. Through such acts, however, what emerges is not a government responding to the stimuli but a paranoid assemblage of individuals clinging onto to power, very well aware that it can be taken away any time.