Spin-doctors have a field day in Kashmir. Summer 2013, belongs to them. The phrase, first used by New York Times in its editorial is now part of global political jargon. According to New York Times columnist, William Safari ‘spin’ is ‘deliberate shading of news perception.’ Moreover, for decades the spin-doctors have been playing the role of ‘putting slants on information when it is presented to public or in press.’
The spin-doctors have been there through out history, as someone has rightly said the first spin-doctor was the Serpent in the Bible for convincing Adam and Eve that Apples were next big thing. In modern political lexicon, they are called PR pundits but their role in many situations is to put an ‘optimistic face’ in worsening situation. The spin-doctors coin euphemisms, as we know the Bush administration ‘under the rubric of national security created many of them’ as American scholar Elena Mihas puts it, ‘war on terror’ became a pervasive euphemism on militant Islam. The invasion and occupation of Iraq was called liberation’. Invasions on countries were named as ‘change of regime’. To deny human rights as guaranteed under international law, the prisoners of war were and continue to be called as ‘unlawful combatant’ or ‘enemy combatants’. Looking back in 1947, we have also seen coinage of euphemism by none but Abdullah using Quran words like ‘tayraan ababil’ for Indian soldiers.
In our situation, during peace times when there is ample political space, the role of spin-doctors becomes more significant. They do not just include professional consultants, PR pundits but ‘academia-NGO’, “professors”, ‘ media-men’, former bureaucrats and politicians. Like Siberian, cranes that visit Kashmir wetlands during winters many of these spin-doctors in good numbers make it to Srinagar during summers. Arriving here with full orchestra not only to influence public perceptions on common issues but, with their gunny bags of euphemisms, like ‘healing touch’. ‘deeper-alienation’, ‘zero tolerance’, ‘within confines of humanity’, ‘Federal Models of Shared Sovereignty’ and ‘political engagement’ they work to change the ‘fundamental political narrative’ of the land. Living to the reputation of propagandists some of these spin-doctors by twisting, contorting and the historical realties work overtime to create ‘confusion’ in public mind in general and youth in particular. Many “NGO-academia’ with students as their ‘target audiences’ operate from the campuses. Some of them with cooperation of university administrations and teachers have been able to get a foothold on the campuses.
Not only some ‘politico-academia-NGO’s’ believe that they can defeat urges and aspirations of people by weaving cobwebs of confusion around the legitimacy of the Kashmir movement but even some old guards within the Congress subscribe to this belief. An old-time Congress party leader now settled in New Delhi for over last fifty years has been making to headlines for past few days by distorting and contorting history with a design to create confusion. On June 18, in statement that made a banner lead, he termed the Indira-Abdullah agreement of 1975 as an attestation of Jammu and Kashmir’s “ultimate accession with Union of India.”On June 21, in exclusive interview with this newspaper he made only one points worth noting that the statement made by former Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram that Kashmir was a “unique problem and it needed a unique solution” and appointment of interlocutors GOI in the wake 2010 agitation was a just “damage controlling exercise.” The former Congress Minister has very subtly suggested that GOI has no regard for blood of Kashmiris has further discredited it in the eyes of common people in Kashmir.
The Indira- Abdullah Accord, that was an agreement between an individual and Prime Minister of India for facilitating change of guard in the state has gone into the footnotes of Kashmir history. Here the point of debate is not how and why this agreement was executed and if it was comparable to Jawaharlal Nehru appointing Abdullah as Emergency Administrator in 1947 for consolidating foothold of Indian army in Kashmir. What calls for the debate is if the Abdullah agreement of 1975 was attestation of Jammu and Kashmir’s “ultimate accession with Union of India.” The statement throws up a big question was in the eyes of Congress leadership “accession of Jammu and Kashmir” on temporary even on 25 February 1975 that called for an attestation by an individual or even a party. Looking at it other way round the Congress leaders believed that the ratification of “accession” by the State Constituent Assembly in 1957, was not complete without attestation by Sheikh Abdullah- that he did through 1975 agreement.
To understand, how the Indira- Abdullah agreement was of no consequence with regard to final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir there is need for revisiting the history. On January 31, October 1947, Nehru in a letter to Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liquate Ali Khan assured that Kashmir Accession was accepted on condition that once law and order was restored in Jammu and Kashmir, that referendum will be held in the state to decide which state they want to join. In November 2, broadcast from Radio Nehru repeated the same. In the White Paper published by GOI, on Indian States in 1950, after the Constitution of India had come in force, the accession of J &K was described as temporary subject to referendum. On 20 August 1953 after Abdullah’s arrest in joint communiqué with Ali Muhammad Bogra Nehru again agreed for fair and impartial plebiscite.
In 1957 when the State Constituent Assembly, in a dithering mood that is evident from Syed Mir Qasim’s speech of 25 January 1957, ratified the accession, the United Nations Security Council in its resolution No 122(1957) dated 24 January 1957, out rightly rejected the action of the State Constituent Assembly. It also reaffirmed its earlier resolutions the final disposition of the State will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. If the action of the State Constituent Assembly did not affect the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir in the eyes of international community-, it is naïve to say Indira-Abdullah has put a final seal on accession. These are just Machiavellian tactics to confuse people- defeat them.