Distortions, half-truths and lies cannot justify govt’s claims and actions, only weaken Indian democracy and image
In the face of questions by the opposition in the parliament on the prevailing Kashmir situation, the response of the government has been far from satisfactory. From detention of Farooq Abdullah to the matter of school attendance, the replies have been evasive and even betray many lies. Presenting the status report on Kashmir in Rajya Sabha, union home minister Amit Shah spoke of normalcy returning to Kashmir. In support of his argument he cited a number of figures of healthcare facilities, school examination attendance, polling percentage in recently held Block Development Council polls, and of the landlines and mobile phones restored to argue that situation in Kashmir was ‘normal’.

The argument of normalcy has been peddled since August 5 when all communication channels were fully blocked. It continues to be maintained after a slew of restrictions have been eased, three months on, revealing the callousness manner in which normalcy is defined in Kashmir. Statistics are conveniently fitted in to make the argument look convincing and promising, even though they hinge of sheer lies or half-truths and distortions. For instance trumping the claim of impressive polling percentage in the block development polls is misleading as only the elected members of the panchayats, and not the general population, had the right to vote in these elections. Shah also quoted figures of 7.66 lakh people visiting OPDs in various hospitals in the Valley in September and 7.91 lakh in October. This amounts to 10 percent population visiting the OPDs in a month, on an average, which seems an unusually unrealistic figure unless the people in the Valley are really very ill. He also said that all schools are open in Kashmir and in the recently held board examinations, 99 percentage students sat for the examination. This is misleading again because it does not take into account the empty classrooms before and after the exams. The justification of closing down internet and mobile phones that these facilities came almost a decade after rest of India are hardly based on sound logic. Besides, Amit Shah may be ill-informed in proclaiming that Jammu and Kashmir got internet facility in 2002. The facility was available by 1998.

If Kashmir indeed is normal, why is the entire political brass imprisoned. With many of those incarcerated in the make-shift jail at Centaur Hotel being shifted to MLAs Hostel earlier this week, there are indications that this is a long haul. Besides, barring the carefully selected European delegation, sponsored by a dubious organization, which met cherry-picked people in Kashmir, no delegation including Indian lawmakers are still being allowed to visit Kashmir. How normal can this be considered? The government’s bid to normalise the detentions and stalling visits of Indian politicians and activists on grounds of fragility of law and order situation stands on a weak wicket. Lies and distortions, perhaps by ill-informed ministers, are being pedaled time and again, as in the case of Farooq Abdullah’s detention. The vital question to be asked is on what grounds and charges are these arrests being made. Such detentions are both legally and morally wrong.

It is said that to hide one lie, you have to speak a hundred lies. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha proved this right when he merely endorsed Shah’s brazen lies by averring that Shah had not lied to the house during the Article 370 debate on August 10 when he said Abdullah was at liberty because the latter had been “formally” detained only on September 15. An interview by the Print of National Conference parliamentarian Hasnain Masoodi has demonstrated the far bigger lies that the government has pedaled. It is shocking that none other than prime minister of India gave the National Conference top leaders including Farooq Abdullah an assurance that there would be no constitutional changes or tampering with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir just two days before August 5. How does the public place its faith on a government that appears to have made distortions, half-truths and lies a habit? The issue is indeed grave and has the potency to damage the Indian democracy and India’s image in the world.