In Kashmir, their hands are drenched in blood

By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal. Dated: 1/6/2019 1:17:19 PM

Seasons in Kashmir come in cycles. Amidst the frozen turbulence of several decades, punctured by brief lull of the peace process years, political seasons change within the limited parameters of their static nature.
When former chief minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti embarks on the project of visiting homes of militants, voicing concern about the undue harassment of their family members and expressing solidarity with them in their victimhood, it is not just a case of revisiting the road she once took prior to 2002 elections and earned herself goodwill, enabling her to strengthen the pillars at the grassroots level of the newly formed party she and her father founded. It is like a Rip Van Winkle has woken up suddenly after a brief spell, perhaps cast by the intoxicating fumes of the post she headed till seven months ago.
Flashback to 2016. Mehbooba is in power as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir when the Valley witnessed its worst ever spells of popular rebellion, violent protests and the employment of the worst forms of brutality to crush all that. She presided over the killings of youth and children who were either armed with just a stone or were simply innocent bystanders, she turned a blind eye as hundreds of them were maimed and blinded by the millions of pellets that were sprayed on the streets on a daily basis. She chose to instead express her anguish, with union home minister Rajnath Singh in tow, over the civilian protests instead of over the state repression that happened under her time and watch, as head of the state, as head of the unified command of security forces.
National Conference president Omar Abdullah has taken a dig at his political adversary for her double standards. On the face of it, he cannot be held at fault. But when a man who maintained a much more belligerent stand during the summer agitation of 2010 when 120 people were killed or in 2009 when allegations of rape and murder of two women in Shopian erupted and later began to champion human rights of civilians only when he was out of power, it becomes a case of pot calling the kettle black. Needless to point out that the seeds of 2016 were sown much before, in the historic conflict, in the brutalised official policy of stamping any protest that began in 2008 during Governor's rule but was perfected during Omar Abdullah's reign in 2010. Had he heeded the peaceful agitation of Shopian in 2009 with a fair probe, the faith in the legal justice system would not have been so badly shattered. Had the murders of 2010 not been defended but investigated freely and fairly, the Valley would not have seen 2016, young men would not have felt the desperate desire to fight back by picking up the gun or with simple stones, in either case becoming virtual sitting ducks to be killed.
Cyclically, Mehbooba and Omar, PDP and National Conference have tread familiar paths with roles that have been interchangeable in similar situations. They become partners in crime while in power to please their bosses in New Delhi and turn champions of human rights when out of it in a bid to widen their electoral constituencies, by turns.
As for New Delhi, power has changed hands in the last seventy years and taken a contrasting leap from the secular and liberal Nehru to a fascism inspired Modi. But Kashmiris remain betrayed, the alienation increasing with each passing year. From the Delhi agreement of 1952 and the infamous deposition of Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah and his subsequent arrest, Kashmir now witnesses brazen attempts to wipe out all local political voices under the present government. Kashmir has moved a long way; and yet, Kashmir stagnates and rots, voices muffled and breaths choked. If last week, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad accused BJP of destabilizing Kashmir's politics, BJP leader and union finance minister Arun Jaitley retorted by blaming Congress for alienating Kashmir. Both are right but only with selective truths. If Congress can be blamed for beginning the process of alienating Kashmiris, BJP is responsible for deepening that alienation and allowing it to reach an almost irreparable crescendo.
The list of guilty men and women of Kashmir's fate today is too long and stretches beyond the confines of what is known as mainstream politics. How does one view the role of the resistance leadership of Kashmir which despite its many sacrifices has failed to provide a vision for future, maintain cohesive unity and resist against designs to weaken them? Such failures reduce the resistance leadership to being used as pawns in the hands of the two states of India and Pakistan, whose petty politicking, has enabled the gradual destruction of Kashmir.
If guilt needs to be established, the political figures and organisations only play a bit role, their politics emanating from the discourse dictated by the establishments in New Delhi and Islamabad and their deep states. Instead of a serious bid for resolving Kashmir, both sides have worked hard to enhance its complexity and take it further away from peace. A politics of no conciliation flows from their animosity and tendency to treat Kashmir as a battlefield for settling scores against each other, all at the cost of spilling innocent blood, even at the cost of losing their own soldiers in perpetuating a constant situation of hostility.
On the face of it, when it comes to Kashmir, it is a case of iss hamam mein sabhi nangein hain. Only, it is much worse. It is not just a case of none holier than thou. Those who stand naked for their respective roles in destroying Kashmir have their hands soaked in blood!



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