There are essentially two interpretations of Mehbooba Mufti’s erroneous and flawed attribution of the 2016 uprising. A charitable interpretation lends itself to the assessment that Mehbbooba is getting the causality (cause and effect) of the uprising wrong on account of a misdiagnosis accruing from flawed and messy inputs. Another reading is that Mehbooba is willfully obfuscating the nature of the uprising and putting a convenient spin on it.
Mehbooba had stated that, ‘the 2016 uprising was pre-planned’. She also said that, ‘Burhan Wani’s killing was only the trigger as the platform for this was created beforehand’. This statement, besides reducing the complexities inherent in the 2016 uprising – both generically and specifically – to a mono-causal (albeit flawed) explanation might even amount to a distortion. However, if this is really what Mehbooba believes then it undercuts and undermines her quasi-reach out to other ‘stakeholders’ only a few days ago.
A contradiction then lies at the heart of her approach to the politics that defines Kashmir and the nature of the Kashmir conflict. An ominous inference can be drawn from this obvious contradiction: there might neither be policy coherence in the administration nor might a sober and prudent political paradigm emerge. It is ominous also because erratic state policy and political paradigm, at odds with the gravamen of society’s expectations and aspirations, could very well turn out to be seeding factors for relapse into a more violent confrontation between state and society in Kashmir.
The 2016 uprising was a complex phenomenon which emerged from multiple reasons. The salient of these could be consistent stonewalling of calls for the resolution of the conflict, the state’s reflex of merely containing the conflict, a society repressed by the state, all overlaid with an unethical alliance between the PDP and the far right party, the BJP. These are the major structural reasons and context that led to the 2016 uprising.
Mehbooba then is indulging in spurious diagnosis of the uprising. The 2016 uprising was a widespread and intense outpouring of Kashmiris’ collective sub-conscious and emotional worlds and its spilling over onto the street. Real power shifted to the ‘street’ and the street became the theater of politics in Kashmir. If relapse of this dynamic is sought to be prevented, then the locus of powers that be should be to listen to the street. Listening to the Kashmir Street, instead of isolating and attributing causality of the 2016 uprising to a certain spectrum of Kashmir’s politics and singling them out for ‘retribution,’ would accord the much needed perspective and insight to powers that be. But, for this to happen, a useful starting point would be sincerity of purpose. Will this be forthcoming is a million dollar question!