By BASHARAT SHAMEEM
One of India’s leading political scientists, Sumantra Bose, in his book, Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to peace, succinctly sums up the disposition of Kashmir’s mainstream leaders from 1953 onwards: “Only those who unequivocally agreed to follow the Indian state’s agenda in Kashmir could aspire to office, or indeed, could play any sort of role in institutionally sanctioned politics. The problem is that this situation could be effected only at the expense of the consent of a large proportion of the governed.” As facades are finally lifting themselves, for many of us, who repelled any denigration of the PDP, it must be now clear that Mehbooba Mufti is also one of those “unequivocally agreed” leaders despite the stupefying deceptions she and her party have been enacting since the last 13 years.
Surprisingly, our gullible conscience is often tricked by crafted pranks and deceptions of our mainstream parties. If “Jumla baazi” has become associated with Narendra Modi in India, it could be said that this refrain has also structured our politics till date. Thankfully, we have now seen how the balloons of “self-rule” and preserving the state’s special identity, as concocted by the PDP, are being deflated. Maybe those among us who consciously or unconsciously yielded themselves to this party should now seek an early pardon. This writer is witness to one such shameful instance in which several mosques in South Kashmir, looked after by a particular organisation, were used to campaign for PDP in the 2008 elections.
The PDP now seems to have completely yielded itself to the Sangh. It is singing its praises with great alacrity. Mehbooba Mufti is finding it a better proposition for Kashmiri Muslims than the contemporary Islamic world. These odes sent a message of loyalty and trust which betrays even the long distance between what Mufti Sayeed would often refer to as North and South poles. In her recent odes, Mehbooba has come up with interesting notions which even surpass the essential Indian minimalist position on Kashmir. She has presented the idea of India through the Sangh, which is refuted by a majority of Indians who regard Sangh as antithetical to the foundational ideas of the republic of India. One can understand Mehbooba’s compulsions of justifying the unholy alliance of her party with RSS/BJP to save her chair. But if one sees through her recent statements, she has done what Modi is doing in India — totally distorting certain historical truths for personal interests.
Mehbooba has tried to reorient the complex and contested question of Kashmir’s accession to India. Till now, we were told that it is secularism, and secularism alone, which binds India and Kashmir. For the sake of argument here, Indians have a stated position that for secularism to survive in India, Kashmir has to remain in India (however wrong it may be for Kashmiris). This was first asserted by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1953 when he argued that in order to uphold secularism in India and to defeat Hindu nationalism, Kashmir must stay in India: “We have always regarded the Kashmir problem as symbolic for us, as it has far- reaching consequences in India. Kashmir is symbolic as it illustrates that we are a secular state…. Kashmir has consequences both in India and Pakistan because if we disposed of Kashmir on the basis of the two-nation theory, obviously millions of people in India and millions in East Pakistan will be powerfully affected. Many of the wounds that had healed might open out again.”
When the Sangh swears by its communal, fascist and anti-secular ideology, how is it that Kashmir’s secularism is compatible with it? For Mehbooba’s information, Sheikh Abdullah did accede to India’s secularists and communists, but not to Sangh and its pernicious ideology. In his lifetime, he could never reconcile with them and often rejected their ideology as contrary to the principles of Kashmir’s association with India. In August 1952, in a speech in the State Assembly, Sheikh Abdullah declared: “The supreme guarantee of our relationship with India is the identity of democratic and secular aspirations, which have guided the people of India as well as those of Jammu and Kashmir in their struggle for emancipation, and before which all constitutional safeguards will take a secondary position…. I would like to make it clear that any suggestion of arbitrarily altering this basis of our relationship with India would not only constitute a breach of the spirit and letter of the Constitution, but might invite serious consequences for a harmonious association of our State with India.”
Mehbooba has gone too far in singing paeans for the Sangh. But the underlying slant is that by reorienting the essentialist Indian claim on Kashmir by bringing in the till-date absent Sangh in Kashmir’s discourse, she is carrying out an important task. She is ensuring that Indian claim over Kashmir, which is ever more violently asserted by the Sangh, gets further entrenched. This is a total betrayal of what she was affirming till 2015. The lust for power has made her party forget whatever little morality and principles were left in the mainstream polity of the state. “Jumma Mubarak” has indeed become “Jumma Pathraav”, but haven’t our eyes seen many bloody Fridays? And those who wear green robes and veneers to cheat and swindle have no ethical morality to preach precepts to the poor and oppressed. Because in their world, nothing is holy and moral, only the lust for power.
Mehbooba, if memory serves her well, must know that Kashmiri youths or civil society members have no love for rumour-mongering and street protests. They only want a solution to the political problems according to their aspirations. They indeed desire peace, but only when it comes with honour, dignity and respect, not with the absence of these. They don’t want a repeat of 2008. They don’t want to be given handouts from New Delhi’s coffers at the cost of the coffins of their brethren.
Kashmiris have no reason to believe the antics of the PDP, as a recent editorial in this paper pointed out. Kashmiris have seen land being given away in 2008 to fulfill a nefarious design. Kashmiris have also seen their mandate being betrayed in 2014, and there is no reason that they won’t see another betrayal despite the faux damage control initiated by the ruling party. Kashmiri’s apprehensions are too strong to be allayed because they have seen it all when it comes to the PDP’s dichotomous practices in the last one year.
They have seen the beef controversy being raked up prior to Eid-ul-Azha last year. They have seen the fate of Zahid Rasool. They have seen the systematic assaults on the state flag, constitution and Article 370. They have also seen the armed marches of RSS cadres through the streets of Jammu and communally sensitive Kishtwar. They have also heard from the mouth of the Sangh ideologue, Tarun Vijay, about planting “saffron” and bringing “fragrance of Indianess” in the state through proposed Sainik colonies. They have also heard from Sangh ideologue, Subramanian Swamy, writing way back in July 2011, in DNA, under the title “How to wipe out Islamic terror?”, about the grand plan of abolishing Article 370 and settling ex-servicemen in the Kashmir Valley.
This long overdue design of altering the demography of the state has gathered momentum since the Sangh’s intrusion into the state with the active connivance of the PDP. The spokespersons of PDP would do well to know that Kashmiris have seen too many betrayals, conspiracies and tragedies to believe in their dissembling anymore.
—The writer is lecturer in English, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir