Kashmir is often drowned in such official propaganda that a mere statement by the government — true, half-true or outright false — is deemed as meeting the requirements of accountability. Governments, chief ministers and ministers change but the phenomenon only gets more entrenched, like the bureaucracy, making accountability even more distant a possibility with the passage of time. Take some of the recent developments as a set of examples. The government moved the Supreme Court to plead the state be excluded from NEET by invoking that much-hollowed out special status under Article 370. When the Court rejected the state government (read Mehbooba Mufti’s or the PDP’s) plea it came out saying the NEET would not make any difference to the state’s interest!
Before this, the plight of the schoolgirl, who has come to be known to the world as ‘Handwara girl’, did not move the state’s first woman chief minister. Five civilians were killed in government forces’ firing following allegations that an Indian army soldier molested the schoolgirl. The ‘victim’ was kept under police custody against her and her parents’ will, and it took her legal counsels almost a month to free her. All that the CM had to say following a cycle of violence was that the killings ‘undo the good work’, and repeat that hackneyed call for the government forces to ‘exercise restraint’. What good work, an average Kashmiri might ask? The work of protecting local governments, that then tirelessly works to misrepresent the people?
The PDP is in alliance with the BJP, whose declared political objectives in Kashmir are squarely against what the CM’s party used to profess. The issue of setting up ‘saink colonies’ in the disputed state, and the government’s response to the expose’ is revealing of its own sense of accountability, and to whom. First it denied that the idea existed. Then said land for the colonies was requisitioned but was not allotted. The government finally also said that the files about the land for ‘sainiks’ had started moving since 2011. Notwithstanding Tarun Vijay of the RSS expressing confidence that his friend, Ms Mufti will do the job of setting up the colonies in due course of time, the CM herself saying her government would protect the interests of the state. Or, did she mean interests of The State of which breathless promotion of tourism, that most fragile of all industries, is a consistent part! The interests of ‘the state’ are not the interests of the ruling party, but the interests of the people. The interests of the people is what the PDP, as it was forming, tried to articulate somewhat within the parameters of status quo, but only up to the point it could partake in power dispensed from New Delhi, and fall ungracefully in line.