So far, I have no reason to believe that it is ‘a good cop bad cop’ strategy towards attaining a bigger ‘political goal’- ‘extinguishing the lost flicker of the resistance’ by playing ‘reconciliation card’. Those who subscribe to this idea, may have some valid points grounded in history to strengthen their arguments or may even have some inside knowledge about the new arrangement that has been put in place in the state with obvious approval from Nagpur. Nevertheless, in such a weird political situations time factor is important. That make me so far to see these as only the teething troubles of a wedlock between the warlords of warring tribes with strong history of rivalry and incompatibility. I am referring to the hullabaloo that Indian Parliament witnessed during the past week over the release of Masrat Allam, senior leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference led by octogenarian leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Seen in right historical perspective, these teething troubles are grounded in the inherent mistrust between the pro-India regional leadership and New Delhi. That despite these leaders displaying their testimonials of loyalty publicly the ‘mistrust bug’ has feverishly dogged them right from Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah to Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad to the present chief minister. Ironically, the present chief minister with almost fifty years pro-India political profile was introduced by the New Delhi corporate media to millions of Indians in a new avatar – ‘secessionist Chief Minister’ for making a candid statement about participation of people in 2014 elections and was given new a sobriquet- Pro-Pakistan Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir for releasing a Hurriyat leader. None of his predecessors not even Sheikh Abdullah had earned this distinction- he was denounced as ‘Uncle Sam’s stooge and Bakshi when arrested was called as “anti-national” by the official media.
The statements made by Home Minister, Raj Nath Singh and Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in the Parliament on the release of one of the Hurriyat leaders in fact was an open manifestations of this very mistrust. Visibly, highly worked up Home Minister giving details about the release under question told the Parliament, “This is an issue of security. …. We are not entirely satisfied with the state home department report and have sought some clarifications. We have taken this matter very seriously.” Corned by the opposition Prime Minister, Modi intervening in the debate outrageously told the parliament, “This has not been done with the Centre’s knowledge. No intimation of this was given to the Centre. I also lend my voice to the outrage that has been displayed in this House and across the country…We have sacrificed Shyama Prasad Mukherjee for this cause so please do not give us lessons on patriotism.” In referring to Mukherjee he conveyed a strong message that the agenda of the Sangh Parivar about Kashmir had not changed. Fundamentally, the Congress leadership including Nehru and the Sangh Parivar where on the same page about Kashmir in fifties. To quote from Abdullah’s autobiography, “On one occasion Jawaharlal unwittingly revealed his heart’s desire and said, ‘we have no quarrel with objective underlying agitation ( by Jan Sangh against autonomy of state). It is our desire too to see that Kashmir draws closer to India’
The law and order being state subject, Mufti Muhammad Syed as chief minister of the state was within his rights to release Masrat Alam or any other political prisoner and detunes under PSA without courts having ordered for the same. It is a history, for making a fresh start every new government after 1947 has been releasing political prisoners, withdrawing cases of general and serious nature against students, youth and political prisoners. In 1964, when State was under the Congress rule, Chief Minister, Sadiq released all detained leaders and workers of the Plebiscite Front and the Political Conference and other smaller groups. High profile cases that had resonated even at the international level and echoed in the Security Council, like the Kashmir Conspiracy Case and the Hazratbal Murder Case were withdrawn without a clamour in New Delhi. In 1972, again when Syed Mir Qasim took over as Chief Minister of the state, hundreds of students detained under Preventive detention along with leaders and workers of all political parties including the Plebiscite Front and Jammat-e-Islamia were released from different jails in the State. Cases against students and youth were withdrawn. In the post- 1990 scenario when state was for six years directly under the central rule releasing of leaders of the Hurriyat Conference and ‘combatant organizations’ was a regular feature with state government. Surprisingly, there were no brickbats on these releases from the corporate or official media, even the crazy news anchors did not cry hoarse. Instead, often revocation of detentions against Kashmir leaders earned kudos from well-meaning columnists and writes.
The Home Minister mellowing down, on realizing that the detained leader Masrat Alam had not been released during the Governor’s rule and not by two-week old chief minister is not significant. But, what is important is the messages that were manifest in the anguish of Narendra Modi’s against his alliance partner in the state. The message strikingly says that the new dispensation in the state would not be any different than the previous one – and it would not be allowed even to exercise its own prerogatives without a nod from New Delhi. It also presages the space for the alternative voices or the voices of dissent will continue to remain shrunk. The state government like its predecessor, will not have much a say the security related issues that includes withdrawing laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (PSA).
Perhaps, the new government has got this message and withdrawal of the circular No 13-GAD- of 2015 reiterating the status of the state flag as enshrined in the State Constitution manifests the same. A fellow columnists very rightly commented on the circular, ‘In the first instance, there was no need to issue a circular. The withdrawal of the circular is more intriguing than its issuance.’ It definitely puts question mark on the PDP agenda but at same time suggests the alliance government will survive longer than predicted by many. The conspiracy theory about destabilization propounded by Deputy Chief Minister will add to its stability