Kashmir Needs Saviour From Politics Of Fight On Streets

11 May 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Srinagar: Kashmir is back to the centre-stage of the national politics amid all the noise about as to who is going to win or lose in the Lok Sabha elections the final phase on May 12. The dynamics of the Kashmir game have changed and so have the situation and the dramatis persona in Kashmir. The post-poll behaviour of those who had given boycott call against those who dared to vote should serve as an eye opener to the Kashmir leadership and the intellectual class. That there was a spree of violent incidents against all those who had voted in the Lok Sabha polls is a hard evidence that the Valley is becoming intolerant and the leadership of all sorts has failed their people. The voters were thrashed and warned. Is this class of thrashers going to determine as to what Kashmir should look like? This is a question that the leadership must answer. Is this the kind of Kashmir that has been conceived by the leadership that claims to be leading the 'freedom struggle' in the Valley and which leaves no stone unturned to stay in media spotlight. They give poll boycott calls. And, wily nily, some of the parties that claim themselves to be the mainstream groups, have endorsed the poll boycott calls not only by their words but also by actions without going into depth as to what that would mean in the long run for Kashmir and its people whom they claim to represent. Kashmir embarked on a long and tragic journey of violence and bloodshed in the late 1989 and till date there seems to be no end to it in sight. The situation has changed in such a cruel way that today it is exceedingly difficult to differentiate as to who stands on which side of the fence. And if the things have gone wrong over the years the militants and separatists are less to be blamed than the so-called mainstream leaders. Let's put October 1996 as the cut off date when an elected government took over after a prolonged six-and-a-half-year spell of the Central rule. Farooq Abdullah had the capacity and charisma to change the course of the events. Farooq was in the chair of chief minister. Indeed, Delhi started playing games and he walked straight into the trap laid for him by the militants, separatists and his critics in the 'Delhi durbar'. This did not allow him to concentrate on his job. That, however, did not prevent him from visiting places and ignoring the governance and by that time he was made to quit the chair as his party National Conference had lost the elections. This style of governance, which is close to the definition of misgovernance, was the legacy left by him which all his successors have followed in one way or the other. Mufti Sayeed had to accommodate the interests of the people on the one hand, and also that of the constituents of his multi-party coalition. Ghulam Nabi Azad tried to make a difference but that was stonewalled by the vested interests, who wanted politics to stay afloat and all other issues of development, governance and new paths shelved . Current Chief Minister Omar Abdullah inherited this unpalatable legacy, where there was a mix of mis-governance and other failures. He could have changed the course. Age was on his side. Had he chosen his path that he had declared during the 2008 elections; making Jammu and Kashmir the model state of the country. Had he taken some initiatives on his own he would have been on top of the world. The youngest chief minister of the state could have worked wonders. But that was not to be. Instead, the situation has started deteriorating in such a way that in 2010 there was a revolt on the streets. He did not correct the course because he was so much shackled by his own self and his desire to stay in chair that things went from bad to worse. What is happening now when the Kashmiris have started fighting Kashmiris - poll boycotters versus votaries of democracy. It is ominous. This is high time that the people with stakes in the Valley woke up and saw the ugly reality and put in collective efforts to put a halt to all this.