Views from Srinagar
LOWEST turnout of voters in Srinagar parliamentary constituency followed by violence and loss of nine innocent lives raises serious questions on the competence of ruling dispensation in dealing with the affairs of Kashmir both on law and order front and for upholding the idea of India and democratic process in Kashmir. It has undermined the very credibility of election process and consequently the political space of mainstream polity has been allowed to shrink. Dr Farooq Abdullah’s win is characterized as sham and his farce representation of the electorate of Srinagar Constituency, where I am also a voter, has no legitimacy. His win may earn him entry in the temple of democracy but by no stretch of political legitimacy he assumes the representative character with the percentage of votes polled.
In fact the elements who canvassed boycott of elections now claim to be representatives of the political aspirations for the people of Srinagar Parliamentary constituency at least for now by almost total boycott of poll process, the political pundits say. New Delhi has to eschew this ground reality in the context of any future engagement with the people of Kashmir as being strongly advocated by civil society besides the political parties. It is more than obvious that the ungoverned Kashmir is the star example of the failure that needs urgent attention. The very idea of democracy has been imperiled.
Unabated violence has turned paradise on earth, my homeland into a hell. The death toll of Kashmiris is swelling day after day. How much of further death and destruction is required to sensitize the policy makers and political class nationally and in the state and make them realize and understand that Jammu and Kashmir is the most sensitive State that requires sensible handling. Today Kashmir is on the edge. Deciding about the fate and affairs of the state and “Kashmir” in particular by governments of the day without taking on board all the stake holders and without due deliberations amounts to behaving “as a bull would in a China shop”.
India has with great efforts integrated the diverse divisions as the mosaic of different ethnic, religious and tribal groups and united these together in a culture of mutual tolerance and creative interaction as a plural and democratic JK State. Unfortunately it has got engulfed in the worst phase of militancy, intolerance and distortion by the self-serving myths of competing political interests.
Unlike past, when Kashmir used to enjoy the glory of peace and rich plural ethos popularly known as Kashmiriyat all over the world, the situation in Kashmir currently is that radicalization is taking over the socio-political discourse and gaining greater appeal and the pro Pakistan narrative which was noticeably very weak has also become apparently strong. The new age youth is up in protest against the very idea of democratic process in the Valley. The young and innocent lives are lost on a daily basis.
The difference between 2014 and 2017 elections can be summarized as: After long spell of militancy, despondency, death, destruction and cynicism, the 2014 elections in J&K had brought a hope of democracy and aspiration of economic well being in the people, and particularly the youth of Kashmir valley – that they would benefit from the democratic polity, the economic development and progress promised by Prime Minister Modi. The youth of Kashmir in particular got inspired and joined the mainstream agenda by a larger participation in the elections. People decided to give peace and positive economic development agenda a priority and through their large participation in the elections, braved boycott calls of anti-democratic elements and defeated all the incumbent ministers and the previous government. Such was the fervor of hope and positive participation.
2017 election has brought two mainstream political dynasties head on. It has evoked cynicism about the very idea of election process and people have chosen to reject both Abdullah’s and Muftis by 93% boycott in the elections and reducing it to be sham and farce. Such is the people’s innate aversion and hatred, consequently polity of Kashmir is discredited, destabilized and democracy is imperiled. The experiment of coalition between the two diametrically and ideologically divergent parties in the State – PDP- BJP – has failed. It has not lived upto the expectations despite the promises. It was expected, after the formation of the PDP-BJP coalition government, that it would follow a policy of containment, to limit and scale down the violence and open a peace process with inclusive political discourse and also bring in the economic prosperity through uniform and sustained development and open up avenues of employment for the youth. The government rose to the power for these expectations of the people.
At the time of the swearing in ceremony of the government, the galaxy of tall BJP leaders and the PM Modi flew in to greet and welcome Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as Chief Minister, and his team. But, unfortunately, the bonhomie of swearing in evaporated immediately. Late Mufti tactlessly committed an act of indiscretion, by praising Pakistan and the separatists for the success in the elections. BJP is said to have aligned with late Mufti primarily for his acknowledged nationalist credentials. Mufti’s conscious or unconscious mistake is costing the Kashmiris dear even now.
It took a while for Mehbooba to take a call on stepping in the shoes of her father to become the chief Minister. Now Mehbooba is heading the Government. People accuse her of facilitating the entry of right wing RSS-BJP ideological moorings into the Valley to promote their divisive agenda and fear the change of demographic profile of the Valley. That is the under current and propaganda through all mediums.
The revival of militant activity in the state and elsewhere is a serious issue and a grim reminder to all concerned that the militant outfits are spread, present and active to strike anytime and anywhere. The educated youth in anger joining the militant ranks is hugely disturbing phenomenon, public support to militancy had considerably reduced but it has surfaced with renewed vigor. The phenomenon of panic and disinformation is back in the valley. Security scenario, inwardly is not very assuring. Darker clouds of uncertainty are on the horizon. The militancy is on the rise. Huge participation in the funerals of the slain militants is worrying and disappointing. It reflects the people’s subtle if not the express support to the revival of militancy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has time and again flagged the promises of hope, peace, co-existence and a massive economic development. While people are anxiously waiting for his vision on the idea of India in Kashmir and end of unabated death and destruction. International community has not remained oblivious on Kashmir situation. Recently Nikki Haley expressed US concern over the situation in South Asia spiraling into a dangerous conflict hinting at Kashmir imbroglio. The other hostile countries and the International Human Rights groups are curiously studying the Kashmir affairs awaiting the opportunity to meddle.
Therefore eyes are also set on the PM Modi to intervene and act as the tallest leader of the country to promote and initiate the peace process through meaningful dialogue and informally or formally invite all the stakeholders and save Kashmir from current morass. [email protected]