Yes Minister, You Are Right!

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Around this time last year the Congress minister Taj Mohiuddin emerged as the loudest voice from the coalition in support of the chief minister Omar Abdullah who was caught up in the sensational Haji Yusuf case involving his death in highly suspicious circumstances. Taj Mohiuddin was then seen as leading the congress (Omar) a third faction in the fractious JKPCC divided between its chief Saifuddin Soz and union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Taj faction of congress was defending the beleaguered Omar more stridently than even the likes of NC veterans like the evergreen Abdur Raheem Rathr and the city based rural development minister Ali Mohammad Sagar.

Taj Mohiuddin is now in the middle of a similar though much milder storm. The main features of the two scenarios are very much similar even as their fallout differs substantially. In case of Omar Abdullah, it merits a recount, a man called Haji Mohammad Yusuf who was close to Abdullah family died after having been handed over by the chief minister to the IGP crime at his own official residence. The deceased was alleged to have collected money from two other NC workers for fixing MLC and ministerial berths for them with Abdullah patriarch and NC president Dr Farooq. Omar Abdullah, by his own admission called the three to sort out the mess caused apparently by Yusuf’s conduct as a middleman. The circumstances which led to Yusuf’s death involved the role of Omar Abdullah’s personal security staff including his highly trusted PSO for nearly a decade.

Most observers linked the midnight removal of the security staff parallel to the death of Yusuf with their perceived role in the entire proceedings. A life was lost, security staff of CM was removed and an inquiry ordered. Omar denied any involvement. Inquiry which was to complete in three weeks is continuing a year later.

Taj Mohiuddin’s episode is too current to need a recall. His security staff beat up an apparently conscientious police officer Mohan Lal who tried to enforce routine traffic discipline and refused to entertain the royal airs of a minister and his lackeys. The officer was luckier than Yusuf and escaped with his life but not before receiving serious injuries that give an idea of the violence used against him. National media conducted the issue with unusual interest. Omar Abdullah government ordered suspension of the accused cops who battered their senior colleague in their zeal to make way for the minister. They have been arrested and ‘investigation is on’. “Law will take its course”, the CM has assured the nation through twitter. Taj Mohiuddin has denied any involvement and even a moral responsibility.

In one of the TV debates the minister called the episode a trivial incident, a ‘tu tu mein mein’ that apparently did not deserve such media focus. Taj Mohiuddin, always sounding confident could not have been more precisely correct than that. What does beating up of a cop by fellow policemen amount to in a state where much bigger crimes are committed by the ruling elite. From Haji Yusuf to cricket scam some high and mighty of the land could have been inmates of prisons rather than ruling a cowed down and disempowered population. If only one were to believe Abdul Ghani Vakil and the literature he has put together on corruption with what he claims to be clinching evidence half of the cabinet should be in jail and the other half waiting in the queue.

Jammu and Kashmiris not a state run as part of Indian democratic set up but only managed as a security concern. The day the security establishment retreats a bit to make way for democratic processes and institutional accountability Kashmir will cease to be a milch cow for them and is most likely to become a formal, willing partner in the idea of India. That day 10 year old Faizan or 84 year old Geelani won’t be the challenge to national security deserving PSA and confinement. Then it will be the turn of sociopaths who happened not to go to prison and instead ruled us as guardians of national interest to meet their nemesis at the institutions of justice. The institutions of the state will that day not be protecting the so called pro India individuals in Kashmir but will be serving India and the people living here. Till then the people manning such institutions will continue to be seen as the guilty men of India, comrades of the security staff that are suspected of having had a hand in the killing of Yusuf or beating up of Mohan Lal.

Expecting the CM to enforce any accountability is a vain hope. Consider how he unceremoniously removed G M Saroori in his pre Yusuf era even though the congressman had no direct responsibility in the misdeeds of his daughter. And how pathetically he had to retreat in case of Peerzada Sayeed who had a direct hand in his foster son’s brazen misconduct facilitated by an organization working directly under Peerzada? Peerzada fiasco happened post Yusuf. That is what happens when one loses moral authority. And that is why it is payback time for Omar towards Taj for a favor done earlier. No kettle can ever call a pot to account for its black color.

Yes minister, you are right! The incident was too trivial to deserve attention.

Author is the chief spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party

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