History Repeats itself in Kashmir

 

n 1953, Sheikh Abdullah was removed from power in the State after he had pushed it to the brink of a precipice by his sentimental outpourings against accession of J&K with India, which he had himself architected in 1947. It took his successor Bakshi Gulam Mohd about a decade to regain the trust and confidence of Kashmiri Muslims with many liberal and welfaristic measures. History repeated itself in 1989 when the State was pushed into the abyss of rebellion by his son, Farooq Abdullah’s erratic and ineffective governance. It took two decades to restore trust of the Kashmiri Muslims in the Indian secular democracy. This time in 2010, during Omar Abdullah’s stint in power, the Valley has been pushed down the alleys of administrative anarchy and political chaos of the late eighties. It will take quite sometime to restore faith of Kashmiri Muslims in the Indian system of democratic governance. Omar belied all expectations and hopes which were raised when he took over some one year back as a young, energetic man in haste to help Kashmir develop and be liberated from rabid fundamentalists, Pak sponsored terrorists and diehard separatists. He unfortunately failed to keep his team in leash as there were some rogue woodheads in his cabinet that undermined his authority all along, from the very start. He could not even bridle his bureaucracy which has developed a vested interest in perpetuating the present uncertainty. He lost his liaison with his opponents, who created hurdles from day one. He could not maintain proper and healthy coordination with the security administration. He even failed to connect with the youth of the Valley, which was expected of him as the youngest ever Chief Minister of the State.

He seemed to have abdicated his authority and therefore had no business to stay put. Yet he remains the man for the occasion if he is to redeem himself and find the right administrative, governance and political solutions rather than harp on the autonomy tune. His shifting could not have been immediate because there is no other leader in the Valley at this juncture who can replace him and run the coalition without hiccups. Even a short spell of Governor’s Rule could not have worked in the present surcharged atmosphere of the Valley, when it would be negatively interpreted as direct Central intervention. It was therefore only rational to allow him to continue but with the caveat that he will connect at least with the youth of the Valley. And that he will spend his time only in the State and not in New Delhi, making his governance public-responsive. He has to tame his colleagues and keep his bureaucrats on the toes. He has to ensure and enforce deep coordination between different wings of the administration so that no public spats and goof ups result. He has to curb strongly terrorist activities organized in the State by enemies of the people. He has not to hesitate to get rid of the deadwood from his team of colleagues in politics and administration

One wonders as to what these politicians and bureaucrats of the Valley have been doing, if not conniving with and abetting the separatists and the disruptionists? It has become a normal exhortation for Pakistan sponsored separatists in the valley to whip up sentiment on both issues and non-issues and incite and provoke simple Sunni Muslims. There can be no dearth of emotive issues to pick because the Valley is considered to be ripe with baseless rumors, political intrigue and irresponsible gossiping. For the last two decades militants and the separatists have been exploiting this to the hilt. They pick up real or imaginary, small or major, local or international grievances. It could be a missing youth from the Valley who most likely sneaked through the border into POK or Pakistan to acquire training in lethal arms and sabotage. Or it could be the so called abuse of human rights of militants by security agencies while tackling terrorist menace and gun culture in the Valley. It could be the orchestration of alleged rape and death charges against security forces as in the case of two young ladies of Shopian town, which subsequently turned out to be a deep rooted conspiracy of doctors, lawyers, separatists and disgruntled politicians to disrupt public peace and tarnish local police. No rape was proved and the death was ascertained to be caused by drowning. It could be the allotment of barren, useless and frigid land near Baltal enroute Shree Amarnath Jee yatra to the Shrine Board only with a view to streamline the flow of pilgrims, which was deemed by the miscreants as an attempt by the Centre to settle Indian Hindus on those inhabitable steeps. It can also be the unfortunate death of a boy during stone pelting placed square in the middle of violent miscreant mercenaries. It could be the fishing out of a dead body from the Jhelum which will get conveniently and vicariously attributed to the security forces by the rumor mill of the separatists, without any evidence. All these allegations against the security forces are made with such regularity that there is hardly a time or a moment when the Valley does not have a problem of one or other kind. The saddest part of the game is that politicians and bureaucrats of the Valley who are expected to clarify against all such conspiracies and rumors seem to be abetting the same. This could be either due to their participation in the game plan of the separatists who are trained for sabotage and disruption. Or it could be for their personal ends because they are interested in perpetuating the existing abnormal conditions in the Valley so that they continue to rule the roost. It is believed that even some mainline politicians and responsible bureaucrats have developed vested interests in continuance of the existing uncertainty because it brings in its fold both lucre and non-accountability in public spending and action. They make merry while the public of the Valley continues to suffer and groan and national interests are jeopardized. If public accountability and answerability is not ensured by proper analysis of the reasons of public discontent and anger, the conditions are bound to deteriorate as has been happening. That is why despite deployment of so much of manpower and huge investment of material resources, results seem to be illusory. The greatest losers in this game of conspiracy by vested interests have been the average Sunni Muslims of the Valley who have yet to breathe freely like other citizens of the country. The Indian citizenry by and large actually sympathizes with the misled people of the Valley in these days of desperation and gloom.

One of the issues created by the separatists was about the current census process in the Valley. The process was started in the Valley along with rest of the country some time back, to enumerate demographic data of the country after a three decade long lapse. Each part of every state of the country is to be covered by independent enumerators for door to door check of population figures so that accurate population data along with demographic trends are recorded for use in state and national planning. This census is to be conducted by the employees of the Valley who are generally Sunni Muslims. Yet it was whispered by the terrorists and their in cahoots separatists that efforts will be made by the Central Government to change the demographic complexion of the Valley by manipulating facts and figures of population of the Valley. This campaign was much ado about nothing and had no logic and reasons. Yet the separatists and their goons were incited to come on the streets to protest against census operations, considered to be the most scientific and correct method to take head count. It is simply pathetic that people of the Valley refuse to see through the game plan of the separatists who work on behalf of state and non-state actors of Pakistan to foment trouble in the Valley. Great pain and misery comes to Kashmiris therefore, bringing all civil and social life to a standstill through mad agitations and frenzied community turmoil on manufactured causes.

Another drama was enacted by the separatists and their cohorts when they alleged that the Army had killed three Kashmiri youths at the forward post of Machil area in Kupwara district in a fake encounter in April/May 2010. Such public fury was whipped on the issue that the Army had to put the Colonel of the operation under suspension till a full enquiry was conducted in the matter. Even the State Government had to order a magisterial enquiry to douse public rage. But a closer examination of the episode may break open the myth of the allegation. The allegation was that three youth of Nadihal area of Baramulla district were lured by Army contacts to Machil area which remains under heavy snow and thus is impassable till July of every year. The statement that the youth loitered towards Machil area in March, April or May even to seek employment is neither tenable nor logical as the area remains snow bound for eight months in a year. The area, which is otherwise desolate and under snow for bulk of the year cannot provide employment to anybody by any stretch of imagination. Being a hostile topography, the movement of the youth towards this sterile and difficult area if at all could only have been with the intent of crossing to POK to acquire arms and sabotage training to reenter the Valley later as terrorists. But till the investigations are complete it would be only rational to wait for facts which may surprise all.

The recent investigations in public demonstrations against killing of a youth during stone pelting by goons has revealed known facts which are not duly publicized by the administration and security forces to counter the propaganda of the separatists. It was revealed after investigation of demonstrations at Nowhatta (Downtown Srinagar) that the demonstrators were professional, paid agitators who were and are being planted at different sensitive flash points to foment violence, which in turn leads to public rage and anger. These are the techniques and methodologies adopted by the separatists and their political cahoots to foment public turmoil and anger on even non-issues which are projected as human rights problems. If such things are already known to the politicians and the bureaucrats of the Valley why is it that such moves are not aborted with counter moves and other pre-emptive measures of public exposure and media campaigning. It is not only sad but also a frightening lapse. Does it not suggest a nexus between different actors of this drama of death and destruction in the Valley? Some one has to take the responsibility and speak to clear the suspicions and doubts created among the common people.

It could be well expected that local politicians, bureaucrats and security forces could and would forestall all such moves of the separatists by adopting imaginative and pro-active measures. But unfortunately that has never happened in the Valley because they have ignored and forgotten all past lessons from games of deceit and camouflage played by the enemies of the State. All of these agencies have not been able to even isolate and expose the professional goons the separatists employ to hijack and ransack the civil society of the Valley. The limited number of professional goons exploited by the separatists to engineer civil turmoil and public chaos need to be exposed with proper detailing which local police could undertake with inputs from local politicians. There is no justification for administration and security forces to claim inability in such matters when they have been grappling with such situations for two decades and should now be easily able to anticipate all nefarious moves of the separatists. But this can never be done under the present appeasement dispensation of the local and central governments. So in the current dispensation, the civil society of the Valley will continue to be hijacked by such anti-social elements that have no scruples and shackles. Mob frenzy and public rage will continue to erupt from time to time despite public fatigue and apathy as there are no effective counter measures by the state administration.

As for political leadership of the Valley, the less said the better. It cannot claim to be caught unawares on all occasions. It could and should preempt all such nefarious moves by educating the people of the covert designs of the enemies of the state. Even now all opinion leaders of the Valley need to be involved in clarifying the issues that plague the minds of the people of the valley so that all doubts and suspicions created by the separatists and their cahoots are dispelled and designs of the enemies of people are exposed. In case politicians, bureaucrats and the security forces leave the issues to simmer on end, the potential to ignite public wrath and civil anger again and again remain. The separatists have the training to manufacture imaginary problems where there are none and all their moves need to be nipped in the bud. All agencies have to come out of their hibernation and perform their designated role as well as preemptively act on all present and future, real and manufactured grievances in the Valley. Unless all these agencies are able to deal with the problems with out of the box solutions the Valley is not going to come out of the periodic fits of public rage and civil frenzy whipped up by death agents of the enemy. History will keep repeating itself with newer cycles of violence and anti-India sentiment.

The time has come therefore for politicians, bureaucrats and the security forces to realize their legitimate role in anti-separatist and anti-terrorist measures underway in the Valley. People of India and the State can not wait indefinitely. It is time to take stock and deliver normalcy, development and growth or abdicate their positions which are meant for public service and good. The bureaucrats need to realize that Public service jobs in the Valley are for restoration of peace and rule of the law which in turn will lead to respect and dignity for all.

*P.N.Ganjoo was born in a modest Kashmiri family about 7 decades ago, lost his father early and was raised by his honest, hardworking mother. With her efforts he received his education in Srinagar and went on to serve in various Government Departments before retiring as a senior grade KAS officer.

Presently he is working on his varied interests besides being a consulting Director of a software services company.

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