State awards are politics by other means, and these are often more revealing than the equivocal statements politicians never tire of making. Although Burhan Wani’s killing was a trigger for the a months-long popular uprising against the status in Kashmir, the state’s ‘mainstream’ politicians were struck both by the fallout of the rebel’s killing and loss of language to even make equivocal statements. Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tried to say that had her administration known the popular militant was trapped he wouldn’t have been killed, give a ‘second chance’! That was a poor attempt at equivalence that could hide nothing. And, it on the other hand revealed the nervousness the event had generated among the ruling classes by throwing everything out of gear in Kashmir.
But the soldiers who apparently killed Burhan Wani were awarded Sena Medals. When soldiers are killed fighting militants in Kashmir the ‘mainstream’ politicians mourn them as martyrs. But when those who are credited with killing the militants are awarded by the State or felicitated the silence of the same ‘mainstream’ politician’ speaks of the predicaments of the ruling classes of Kashmir. Ghulam Mohammad aka Mome Kanne was also awarded Padma Shri a few years back. The ‘mainstream’ politician lived in silence after the award sent a clear message to the people of Kashmir who have suffered innumerable atrocities at the awardee’s hands.
It is indescribable politics made intelligible only in the language of the State. A lawmaker recently made a truthful and revealing statement; that many of the legislators wouldn’t be inside the Assembly had it not been for people like Kanna and others like him, some of whom also make company for the average friendly legislator in the same House.
Now, it has been reported that former chief minister, late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was to be awarded a Padma this past January 26, and that his family was not ‘keen’ for the award to founder of the current ruling party. Could the reason be that in the eyes of those who decide on the State awards the distinction between a local pro-India politician and a pro-government militiaman doesn’t exist? Or, the reason may be that a Pama award was considered too small for the former chief minister whose party, perhaps alone knows who he was. Such is the equivalence of the ‘mainstream’ politics surrounding Kashmir that the citizens may never know the actual reason. Will politics in this contested territory ever be aboveboard so the rulers are transparent to the public from whom all their power is derived?