Hurriyat needs to come out of its cocoon if it wants to stay relevant and do something good to beleaguered people in Kashmir
Post election scenario calls for a complete introspection in the Hurriyat camp. It has to open up its eyes to far too grave challenges which are staring dreadfully at us. Its proclivity to allow situation drift while maintaining indifference has not only pushed it to margin and impacted its maneuverability, this mute statue-stance is, inversely, helping all those forces to strength it has pitted Kashmiris against. It is true large participation of people in assembly elections does not imply reconciliation on India’s claim, as inviolability of sentiment polling booths do not and cannot cull, but we cannot delude ourselves to the complex electoral engineering that is dangerously affecting Muslim -majority character of the state. Before PDP was planted in Kashmir, the NC represented the regional character and has overwhelming support in all Muslim-majority areas. Now wrestling with each other, the monolithic identity of Muslims has not only got fractured, the two of the India’s strong parties, the Congress and BJP have sneaked into the state, playing first fiddle and dictating the terms.
It is time the resistance leadership breaks the cocoon of complacency and immunity. It has to purge itself off many self-construed myths. Some we have pointed to in our last write ups. Some are on the way to follow.
Right from the day majority community of the state has revolted against the repressive autocratic Dogras, and even after Delhi took Kashmir in its bind, Jammu was pampered, encouraged and doped to act as a countervailing force against Kashmir’s assertive nationalism. Raja Parishad’s anti autonomy campaign set the stage for clipping wings of this growing assertion. A climax we witnessed in 2008 mass uprising when Jammu erupted in counter agitation and tried to choke valley through blockade. All at the behest of Durbar. India uses Jammu as an additional lever to rope in Kashmir. A neutralizer against any demand of justice and fair- play from Kashmir. To give more impetus to such designs Delhi has been poisoning Ladakh against Kashmir offering various political bribes like Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council; even titillating them on Union Territory status. Chenab valley and Pir Panchal regions are not that lucky to enjoy such comforts of ‘largest democracy’ for their jelling with Kashmir main-stream.
In that context Muslim majority areas in Jammu and Ladakh will be vulnerable to the decision of abstention from polls. Can Muslims there be advised to keep indoor and allow forces, inimical to their interests and having communal agenda up on their sleeves, enjoy a walk over? Can Muslims there afford to be mute spectator to the political shenanigans aimed to marginalize and degrade them to ghettoes? In his November 28, 2014 statement, Syed Sallahudin, while asking resistance leadership to decide on the feasibility of election boycott, said: ‘In Chenab valley of Jammu region, people were compelled to vote so that they could keep communal forces at bay. People there had apprehensions that if they would not vote, the communal forces would dominate them.’ Lo and behold, this time communalist forces did run away with four of the six assembly seats from the Chenab valley, thanks to the division of Muslim votes.
Similarly Muslims in Ladakh cannot remain silent while watching others build fortunes on their ruins and sharpening their communal blades or (and)throwing them to dungeons. People in both the regions have compulsions to ignore the `dard mandana appeal’ and vote for survival and not only for addressing local issues. Boycott appeal thus gets constricted to predominantly Muslim valley. Here again we have constituencies spread over to borders, where local inhabitants are at the mercy of the army, 24 hours a day. They cannot defy their dictates and have to scramble to polling booths at the slight batting of the eye-brow from the military cop. The very location of residents there compels them devise priorities and look to safety measures. In all these cases people have not got alienated from Kashmir main-stream, they have only explored ways of living a normal life. In valley people in cities and towns and adjacent villages only are thus the real customers of the Hurriyat appeal, though far too greater visibility of the jack-boots in these peripheries remains a constant factor of fear and coercion.
With boycott call thus losing its sting in Jammu, Ladakh and areas adjacent to borders, even if people in Srinagar and towns and rural areas stay away from polls, pray tell us, would that in any way force Indians for a rethink and stall conducting elections in the state? No it will never. Even during the parallel regime of Kalashnikov when poll percentage dipped as low as below 10 percent, Delhi went on its aggressive posturing. In its blind-fold attitude to democratic sensibilities Delhi always feels fortified in its ‘civilized’ confines . Further it always keeps its tools ready to blunt its opponents. In the face of the situation we are confronted, it is safer to conclude that asking people to keep away from polls is neither feasible nor practicable.