The deafening silence

Distance, as the saying has it, lends enchantment but hardly so in my case it seems. My observation post happens to be very distant indeed — 700 km away from where the action lies. And with the lines of action drawn some time ago , from a place very near my post, my home in Gurgaon, I somehow get the feeling that I usually end up past the expiry date.

The first sign of this being the case with me was that I had nearly forgotten the deadline set by Home Minister Rajnath Singh for pace to be restored in the Kashmir valley within a week. The seriousness of the Mr. Singh’s pronouncement dawned on me when for the first time in 10 weeks I noticed that the unrelenting harangues, the very staple of the networks, with the Kashmir valley at the heart of these, had lost their intensity. Their troubling regularity. ‘To make sure, I even checked if somehow Kashmir valley had been put on the mute mode.

My ears have got so used to these harangues, delivered with great panache and laced for the most part with half truths. The “voice” – or was it “voices”- of the nation obviously had chosen these past few days not to mention the K word in their bulletins and in the shouting contests palmed off as serious debates. These too appeared to have been put on hold these past post- Eid days. And that’s where Mr Singh’s admonition did come in.

Mind you these debates, senseless for the most part, are expected to enlighten, to encourage a civilized exchange of ideas, to detect the fault-lines, as it were, and generally to help suggest solutions for otherwise complex issues. Sadly, these debates have always turned out to be a mere repetitions of known positions, motivated mostly by political prejudices. And in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the valley in particular, the debates now have degenerated into plain abusiveness, the communal divide somehow brought into the focus. To that extent I am happy that the networks,strident all the time, have somehow chosen to fall silent, almost. Their focus has switched to Balochistan, Afghanistan and,of course, the all-time favorite Pakistan. Which is understandable given the broken bonhomie between Modi and Sharif.

The channels in short appear to have gone into a virtual silent mode on miseries inflicted on the Kashmir valley, rarely mentioning the day’s incidents, the death toll, the number of assorted casualties. Which, seriously speaking, lends an eeriness to tragedy being enacted in the valley, now in its third month. And with the internet and mobile services lying in limbo news from the valley is hard to come by. For me the declaration of the Valley as a no horn zone of silence has acquired deafening proportions.

Come to think of it, there is nothing particularly surprising about the silence that New Delhi and the not-so-upright media (bar a couple of exceptions) seem to have adopted over the happenings in the Valley ever since Mr. Rajnath Singh, quick on the heels of a quick stock-taking tour of the valley by the Army Chief, declared that the Valley would be quiet within one week.

That was said two days before Eid which in the event went by, almost unnoticed, with major mosques and Idgahs (prayer grounds) made inaccessible by the Security Forces. And the Army Chief,the true soldier he must be, had been prompt enough to order induction of almost a whole extra Brigade of his troops (4000 reportedly) into South Kashmir.

I am not letting out a secret, it’s an open one for all that hush hush surrounding it, the media, too, was gently advised to “take it easy” on Kashmir for the next few days. Yes, only a matter of few days, as the Home Minister himself had set a week’s deadline post-Eid. What miracles will be wrought in the next few days remains to be seen.

Mehbooba Mufti’s senior party colleague and a Lok Sabha member has resigned his membership of Parliament to protest the wanton suffering the valley is subjected to although the Chief Minister herself is trying her very best to somehow provide much needed balm to the very hurt feelings of the Kashmiris. A very difficult task given that her coalition partners are not really playing ball with her.

The BJP, did meanwhile manage to have a conclave of its own in Katra to seek early implementation of the development programmes for Jammu province. The Kashmiris, as you know, have Prime Minister Modi’s promise of Vikas (development) and Vishwas (trust) to live by.

Of development there has scarcely been any in the valley these past two years and more and of trust, it must remain the rarest of commodity to come by.Yes, rarest, in spite of the continuing advertising splurge you see on most Urdu channels showing Mr Modi in full flow, committing his government to his new found Vikas-Vishwas combo for the valley.

Don’t you forget that everyone in the BJP, from the foot soldier (RSS worker) to the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi is committed to letting Jammu, Ladakh and the Kashmir valley flourish – together if possible, separately is necessary. Which is not saying much given the demography of the places in question and the stated political/cultural objectives of the RSS of which the ZBJP is an offshoot. Mr Modi, as set forth by Guru Golwalkar