Sometimes, some news stories published on the inner pages because of their imminent political fallout are more significant than those that for their immediate news value make the lead stories. On Saturday, a four column news story published on page seven of the newspaper caught my attention more than the two BJP ministers resigning at the insistence of the party high command.
It was but for the intense reaction of the electronic and print media against the rape and murder of eight-year nomadic girl Asifa that the ministers resigned. The response of the topmost BJP leader to the reprehensible and grisly incident after two months that had earned India bad international press and caused a statement from the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres by all stretch of the imagination was damage control exercise.
The blood-curdling story of the child meticulously pieced together by the state police, if not scuttled by the vote bank politics is bound to bring the criminals to the justice. The real machinations and intents behind targeting the girl that with all subtleness transpires from the FIR filed with the criminals have dangerous implications for the state. The machinations, in fact, have been at play from the day present coalition dispensation took over three years back.
The question arises that if the resignation of the two ministers and bringing the perpetrators of the crime in the dock, arrests the looming dangers that have caused a threatening situation in about thirty percent population of Jammu province. The mood that was manifest in the plans of Jammu during past two months more particularly after the police filled the FIR and detained those involved in the heinous crime does not portend well. True, the Ekta Manch March, in Kathu with supporters of one of the coalition partners carrying tricolors poisoned the atmosphere in the plains of Jammu. Nevertheless, the air was vitiated right after the ‘North Pole-South Pole” combine was born. Perhaps, the noxious political atmosphere building up in Jammu has sent tremors in the PDP that has caused a statement by one of the cabinet ministers- son of the founder of the party and brother of the chief minister.
Ostensibly, the well worded largely emotive statement does not seem to be an individual minister’s opinion but a well thought out response from the party, to prevent the emerging threatening situation sinking the rocking coalition boat. Stating that “It is not his personal view but the overwhelming sentiment within the PDP,” the minister made no bones that views expressed by him have the approval of the party high command. The Minister might or might not have articulated the views of the all the PDP ministers or the entire part, but it is a candid admission that the ill-conceived North Pole-South Pole mantra has not worked, in its place it has brought the state to the precipice of disintegration and collapse.
“Today the threat is that while we are in control, we are no longer trusted. We were supposed to be partners in the rebuilding of this place but, sad to admit this, due to the non-fulfilling of commitments, we have ended up being partners in a crime that an entire generation of Kashmiris might have to pay with their blood. What great expectations should we have when our only answer to our people’s cries of anguish and anger, is the bullet? How does one look away from our mothers who have lost their young sons? How does one look away from the pain?” The minister speaking the truth at best of his eloquence evokes accolades spontaneously for him. But what pains the most that despite being able to “see through the silk-sheets of Shylocking politics of New Delhi” he chose to be a minister of the cabinet that has been presiding over guillotining of a whole generation of youth and creating platoons of boys with dead-eyes for past three years. The question which the young minister or his like-minded in the party need to pose to themselves is, what has brought the state to such an impasse that has caused rape and murder of an eight-year-old child with a sinister political design of driving away the nomadic and tribal minority from their homes, landholdings, and pastures.
The incident in the Kathua village cannot be attributed directly to the compulsions of the coalition politics but to the three years expedient politics of the PDP for staying in power. Had it ab initio opposed whipping out the Gujjars, Bakerwals, and others from their holdings with political motives by the then forest minister under the guise of removing so-called forestland encroachments, perhaps the criminals would not have dared to commit the crime. Moreover, ministers would not have exhibited the misplace valor of supporting the rapists and criminals.
The young minister has shown some nerve in stating; “I am not going to be quiet and act as if I am unmoved by the tragedy that is unfolding at ground level, just because I am part of the government…. I am reaffirming that Kashmir issue needs to be resolved immediately if we wish to see lasting peace in the subcontinent”. If he lives up to this statement and tells New Delhi without mincing words and displaying testimony of loyalty that the resolution of the Kashmir Dispute is imperative for lasting peace in the region. He will be different from the crowd of politicians that New Delhi at its sweet will has been putting into the dustbin as useless cogs.
Historically, timidity is the right synonym for ‘accessionist-politicians’ of the state. Since 1947 there have been umpteen instances when New Delhi rudely dismissed even the towering leaders as non-entities, and the leaders for clinging to the chair swallowed all insults. On 25 August 1952, Nehru sent a note to Sheikh Abdullah in which he wrote to him, ‘Kashmiris are not what is called a virile people,’ Sheikh Abdullah pocketed the insult without remorse. Had he shown resentment against this affront to the honor and dignity of his nation perhaps New Delhi would not have dared to show him the door in 1953. In 2000, the State Assembly adopted a resolution recommending greater autonomy to the State. New Delhi, showed no respect for the decision of the state legislature and without even giving any consideration shelved it. The National Conference leaders instead of raising a voice against chose a ministerial berth at the center. The story of the PDP is not different from other accessions parties; the young minister has rightly pointed out “ it finds itself today at the crossroads of despair and abandonment.’’
Seen, in right historical perspective besides the “collaborative role,” it has been for non-assertion of the accessions parties that the people of the state are suffering the political stagnation of the worst kind.