By Ashq Hussain
The August 25 joint press conference by Chief Minister Mehbooba and Home Minister Rajnath Singh revealed, on the one hand, the intransigence of the Indian State on Kashmir with the Union Minister stating that India would never think of Kashmir’s future outside India meaning thereby that they did not need the consent of Kashmiris to keep them within their sovereignty sphere; and on the other hand the frustration and callousness of the provincial Chief Minister shouting that the children who surprised army camps and police stations did not go there to buy toffee and milk meaning thereby that the armed forces personnel were justified to kill them. These same armed forces personnel never killed people in Jammu at the time of 2008 Amarnath Land Row, when the latter snatched rifles from them.
Mehbooba’s shouting at journalists was an attempt on her part to impress upon Rajnath Singh that she was “more loyal than the king”. After all it was New Delhi’s blessing, not the peoples’ mandate, that made a person a minister or a chief minister in Kashmir. To appease New Delhi she had once described Kashmiri Muslims as “cats” and Kashmiri Pandits as “pigeons”.
Mehbooba should know that she is herself responsible for the position she is in. Her tragic fault lies in her attempt to “run with the hare” and to “hunt with the hound” which be a dangerous game. For now she is on a hunting spree. She has been saying, and her statements echo New Delhi’s mindset, that Burhan was killed because he was a militant. So what was the big deal if armed forces killed militants or stone pelters? Burhan’s brother, Khalid Muzaffar, was a non-combatant. English Teacher Shabir Ahmad Mangoo of Khrew Shar was a non-combatant. And so was Shabir Ahmad Mir of Tengpora. A joint team of CRPF and Kashmir Police shot Shabir Mir outside his house on 10 July. The Army killed the teacher Shabir in cold blood on 18 August. They killed Burhan’s brother the previous year. Such examples could be multiplied ad infinitum.
In the past, when Mehbooba was a political non-entity direly in need of political space in a militancy hit Kashmir, she flaunted her sympathy for militants. 1998-99 she would visit slain militants’ homes and weep and whimper along with the women of the house calling the deceased militants as her brothers. New Delhi allowed her to do so.
2002 onward her Party, the ruling PDP, liquidated militants in fake encounters. 2009 post-Shopian rape and murder; and 2010 post-murder of 120 teenagers, when her party was out of power, she was extremely vociferous about the revocation of AFSPA, a lawless law, the creation of her own father and predecessor Chief Minister Mufti Saeed.
Ending 2014, when PDP managed a victory in the provincial elections, Mufti Sayeed, Mehbooba’s preceptor father, thanked militants and Pakistan. 2008-2014 when father and daughter were out of power, they talked of Self-Rule Framework implying that Kashmir was a Disputed Territory. Once they came to power, Kashmir became an integral part of India and Pakistan a sponsor of cross-border terrorim and Kashmiris a thankless people who did not allow her enjoy power; who asked questions as to what happened to the promised dialogue with Pakistan and Hurriyat; and who raised the issue of Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
During election campaign father and daughter sought votes in the name of keeping BJP and RSS away from Kashmir. Post-election 2014 they struck a deal with the same RSS and BJP. BJP on their part had promised the people at large that they would rid Kashmir of the father-daughter duo and father-son duo. For how long will this fooling business continue in Kashmir, the most sensitive, the most dangerous, and the most heavily militarized place on earth which may perhaps never see peace now?
Every one needs to introspect, Mehbooba and Rajnath the more so. Kashmiri parents need to take care that their boys don’t jeopardize their lives. Kashmiri Elders need to remain wary about agents provocateurs. And Home Ministry of India need to shun their rhetoric of “atoot ang”, “ambit of constitution”, “insaniyat”, “jamhuriyat”, “kashmiriyat”; and instead come up with concrete proposals for resolution of Kashmir Dispute or at least, for the present, publicly acknowledge the existence of the Dispute so that the present protests and future militancy become unnecessary. Now so far as Mehbooba be concerned, she should know that it is the whole Kashmir up in revolt, not just 5%; and that Kashmiris know that it is the Army’s Unified Headquarters who run the show and place the responsibility for whatever happens in Kashmir upon the shoulders Chief Minister of the time. Such Cheif Ministership is not worth much. The lives of Kashmiri boys should be treated as far more significant.