Kashmir is on the boil and more than sixty unarmed civilians, including little children and women, have been killed. Four thousands sustained life-threatening lethal injuries and nearly 300 suffered pellet injuries in their eyes, losing eyesight of one or both eyes in action by ‘security forces’. Mass protests are showing no signs of recession or fatigue. In this background the ruling BJP government informed the Supreme Court that ‘ all is well’ in Jammu and Kashmir. Even on the day the report was filed, three youth lost their lives and nearly 500 hundred maimed for life. If this is Delhi’s definition of a situation ‘improving’ or ‘ under control’, then, yes, the medieval monarchies and today’s dictators need our empathy for having failed in inventing such kind of spin doctors and council gurus.
Apart from resorting to repressive measures to break people into submission—which, however, has proved counter productive—, the state government has tried hard to display it is in control of civil administration. But for the past one month, there is no semblance of its authority visible on roads, in offices, departments, in educational and technical institutions, court premises and other governmental functionaries. Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s sneaking in an odd IAT or IAS prelim examination center and then beam it through news channels is ridiculously mismatching to the ground situation that speaks of a complete paralysis of her government. Arranging a wedding celebration on some hilly top when entire region is under deluge reveals the schizophrenic streaks, not normalcy. State government has lost its mandate and moral authority to govern. Behind the façade of having majority in the House, it is, in reality, the police Raj that maintains the iron grip. And, ironically, which is not under her own control (Remember police gag on press without she having a wimp of it).
Elected representatives from the valley have lost the trust of people. Their constituencies have revolted against the politics of deception and repression, they think, they are the part of. Had the sense of guilt of not being part of the people, by the people and for the people–the nectar of participatory democracy—not pervaded deep, they would have, if nothing else, at least provided the consolation shoulders to their fellow brethren in their respective constituencies. But because of their callous insensitivity at the defining moment, they are scared of facing the people. That is why they are visibly invisible when the mandate ‘sanctity’ demanded them not only jell in solidarity with them but also act as a formidable voice against injustice and ‘ excessive use of force’
This disconnect takes the wind off the sails of pro-Indian groups and their projected ‘representative character’. That in essence implies they are irrelevant in any engagement meant to resolve the Kashmir issue. In fact, now same ‘ status position’ gets echoed and acknowledged from persons like former Deputy CM of the state and Congress leader G N Azad, former Congress state president Prof Soz, NC General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar, Communist Party leader Yousuf Tarigami and now Mehbooba herself when they urge government of India to start meaningful dialogue with the Huryat.
The united resistance led by the trio of Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik has, whether we like it or not, proved without any doubt that they hold their writ on the masses. The people are following their resistance calendar resolutely, braving bullets and pellets and imprisonments and atrocities. The curfews, sieges and restrictions are aimed to deny outside world from what is happening in Kashmir. The same people who participated in elections have conveyed in unambiguous terms that as far as issue of Kashmir is concerned , they are on the side of the Huryat and have faith in their representation.
We are in the third phase of Intifada after 2008 and 2010, not forgetting Shopian 2009 and Muhammad Afzal Guru’s hanging in Tihar jail like tremors. But 2016, in its magnitude and intensity of the response and massive involvement of the people across regional, sectarian and ethnic divisions, has scripted unprecedented show of unity and strength. Not only entire valley has roared up, the spill over has attracted people from the Chenab valley, Pir Panchal region and Kargil as well. An overwhelming majority (more than seventy percent) speak in one voice, that Kashmir is a humanitarian issue, not a border dispute between India and Pakistan and that Kashmiris are the principal party entitled to shape their destiny themselves. Every section of the society, including doctors, teachers, students, lawyers, civil society, want the issue settled once for all, in line with the aspirations of people who for the last seven decades have become worst suffers of the political uncertainty.
India has to remember one thing, its policy of tackling Kashmir from the security prism, not as a political and human question, has proved a failed nostrum. The prescription has aggravated the problem. It is now fourth generation—a generation of highly educated talented youth– that is nourishing the sentiment through its blood, career and suffocation. The once towering Sheikh Abdullah was bribed to anaesthetise his people, but on regaining the sense of life, they stunned all who accused them of not being ‘ a virile people’ ( Nehru). Since then, despite many rounds of elections and sustained media propaganda , the sentiment-oriented narrative not only stayed its relevance, it weaned more blooming youth in embrace and conviction.
India has to realize that its trusted lackeys like Abdullahs and Muftis have lost their utility. They need to engage those streets and markets close and open for. And nights are preferred to days. Remember also, brute force may temporally soothe your inflated egos, but not win you hearts and minds. The lull just waits for another land row, Machil or Burhan to blew apart ‘ all is well’ state discourse and, simultaneously, drown in shame advocates of secular democracy.