Same day, same venue, same ceremony and same VIP, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir addressing his police force to commemorate those who laid down their lives in discharge of their duties. Omar Abdullah this time doing the duty he has been doing for the fourth time and his ancestors for decades before him. It will mean a headline in the local papers a photograph with a karakul among hundreds of peak and barrette caps after everybody has gone back home without any kind of a feeling or emotion.
G M Shah also did it twice in his short stint in power. In 1984 a stir was caused at the venue when instead of laying the wreath at the police memorial a senior officer turned left and not right and headed straight for the chief minister who had been in chair for only three and a half months. While placing the wreath at the feet of Shah and saluting him duly, Ram Prakash a devoutly religious IGP said Jenab aap toa shaheed e Azam hain kyonki aapney kursi ke liye apna zameer qurban kiya hai. Nothing much happened to Ram Prakash before he cozily retired to his Punjab home. G M Shah owed his chief ministership entirely to his relation with Abdullah family even though the family never forgave him for toppling Farooq Abdullah and always considered him as a usurper. But Ram Prakash reflected the popular sentiment at that time.
One wonders how Omar Abdullah felt addressing the October 21 parade this time with almost the same audience except the police chief. It was on this day last year he had announced that the AFSPA would be rolled back in 2-3 days, not more or less. That surprise announcement had taken place barely three weeks after the mysterious killing of Haji Yousuf in an incident involving him, his residence, his police, his closest aides and his party workers. At that time it had looked to the common people here as yet another lifeline thrown at the beleaguered chief minister to rescue him from his worst personal scandal. But even a year and countless rounds of zar par to army officers and political masters later AFSPA stands like Mount Everest where it was. It is an index of degeneration of standards that Ram Prakashs sublimity is now represented in Ahad Jans vulgarity, but one wonders if Omar should have needed any reality checks on his conscience before deciding to attend the police function ever. It is quite brave of him to have mentioned the issue again. What would his words mean to his police force?
When Omar Abdullah did a near Shah Jehan to his father in 2008 a very visibly down cast and hurt Farooq sang the famous Amir Khan number papa kehtay hein bada naam karega, beta hamara aisa kaam karega at his swearing in ceremony. Farooq could not have been more precise. Omar has outdone not just the dad but his entire outstanding lineage including the usurper GM Shah.
Omars shameless bending backwards on the Block Development Council (BDC) polls and reversal of his never assertion in the Assembly only a day earlier brought to mind a similar surrender by his grand father the great Sheikh Abdullah before Indira Gandhi. On a late summer day of 1976 the Sheikh offered the guests a sumptuous tea at the Raj Bhavan instead of having his chosen congress ministers sworn in by a dignified governor L K Jha who looked embarrassed by the event. Indira Gandhi had shot down Sheikhs agreement with the congress president AK Baruah which would have inducted Ali Mohammad Naik and Abdul Ghani Goni, former plebiscite front leaders as congress nominees in the Sheikh cabinet. The shining ambassador cars returned to garages without their proposed occupants who had for two days accepted gifts for inclusion in the cabinet. Omar ate the insult just as his grandfather had pocketed his- the source being the same Congress.
Before 2002 Kashmir had a permanent tryst with darkness in the winters. Around this time of the year with first hint of a cloud over the horizon the word would go around that a tower has fallen at Banihal and electricity would disappear for six months. Darkness would engulf the valley and its benighted residents without any reprieve. Ironing of clothes, a shower, ablution, lunch, dinner or breakfast all had to be trimmed in accordance with the one hour supply of power that had no fixed timing. This forced many people to spend the entire night in anticipation of the current that would let them lift water into overhead tanks.
Farooq can be genuinely proud of his son for having brought the state effectively to a pre 2002 situation or worse. It is not just electricity now but the only fuel available to people the LPG that has disappeared. While world journeyed forward, India became an economic power we are still in the most primitive stage of human development that required fire to cook and heat. A more disastrous reversal could have been impossible outside J&K. What else could a son do to make his loving father popular, retrospectively?
It is said of an ancient headman that his cruelty knew no bounds. To give his atrocities the ultimate meaning he would every morning spit into the village pond that was the only source of drinking water. However on his death bed his conscience pricked him and he requested his son to do something that would make people wish him well even posthumously. No worries dad I will achieve it the son said in obedience. Once the young man took over as headman on his fathers death he started pissing into the pond first thing in the morning. God bless the soul of the old man entire village would pray in unison.
No doubt Farooq, the doting father knew his son more than anyone else. He had every reason to hope that his beta bada naam karega.
Author is chief spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party. He can be reached at: [email protected]
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