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“Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said New Delhi needs to feel the pain of Kashmiris and take into account the sentiments of Kashmiri youth.”     -News report

For those who thought that the Congress led UPA was running the country, the admission by the Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh during an exclusive interview to Rising Kashmir, that ‘New Delhi needs to feel the pain of Kashmiris’, would naturally come as a big surprise. And considering the fact that a renowned personality like Ramesh, who himself is both a learned man and a veteran politician, should hold ‘New Delhi’ and not his own Union Government responsible for not being able to ‘feel the pain of Kashmiris’ and failing to take into account the ‘sentiments of Kashmiri youth’, is indeed bewildering. But, when a Union Minister faults New Delhi on its Kashmir policy, then obvious question that arises is- who is running the country and who exactly is the GoI?

That this statement from the Union Minister for Rural Development should coincide with the scathing observation of the two judge Supreme Court bench which stayed the execution of eight death-row convicts on the ground that, "It should not happen as it happened in the J&K case (Afzal Guru hanging)," may be sheer providence. Yet, it brings to fore the fact that, even in the eyes of the law, New Delhi conducted the execution of Afzal Guru with undue haste. Similarly, when the Supreme Court has observed with concern that "Intimation of the execution reached the relatives of the person (Afzal) after his hanging. That is bad. The relatives lost an opportunity to meet the condemned prisoner for one last time before his execution" and Ramesh says that ‘New Delhi needs to feel the pain of Kashmiris and take into account the sentiments of Kashmiri youth’, what exactly is he trying to convey to us?

The Union Minister for Rural Development certainly has a point when he accuses the Indian media for being “xenophobic and jingoistic.” However, does the honourable Union Minister wish to suggest that it was the media and not the Union Government, which was responsible for the execution of Afzal Guru in the shoddy manner that it was done? Does he wish to convey to us that New Delhi was forced to its knees by the “xenophobic and jingoistic” Indian media and thus had no option but to hastily execute Afzal Guru? The Union Minister for Rural Development would certainly have done better if he had accepted that his government had faulted in this case, as it would have atleast conveyed that New Delhi regretted what happened and was committed to make amends. And this would have atleast sent the message that, though late, New Delhi is now making a genuine effort to ‘feel the pain of Kashmiris and take into account the sentiments of Kashmiri youth.’ 

The Indian media may well be “xenophobic and jingoistic.” However, if this be the case, will the Union Minister for Rural Development please tell us why his government has failed to curb this undesirable trend? If the Police in Maharashtra can arrest a 21-year-old girl and her friend for merely posting (what it perceived to be), ‘anti-Bal Thackeray’ comments on social networking website Facebook, then why is the Government not acting against the “xenophobic and jingoistic” elements in Indian media which is spreading hatred? No, Mr Jairam Ramesh, your statements lack conviction. Similarly, your comment on the alleged embezzlement in the State in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) that, “It is now up to the State government to take the follow up action,” is indeed very comical. Have you forgotten that just in December last year, you had declared that you would request Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister to recommend a CBI probe into irregularities in seven districts of the State under MGNREGA scheme? Why not so for J&K? You are the Government and you are required to provide solutions and resolve issues - not just express helplessness or display double standards! 

The feeling of alienation that is palpable in Kashmir today has been the result of long-term neglect and short- term politicking. But our leaders never seem to realise this and find it more convenient to merely ‘pass the buck’ and obfuscate the real issue. It is time that the Centre starts behaving in a more responsible manner behooving a Union Government rather than indulge in emotional histrionics. Those in power at the Centre need to realise that mere expression of sympathy will not win over the wounded hearts of Kashmiris. In the past we have had Congress President Sonia Gandhi reassuring us that “Kashmir had a special place in our polity” and the people of the State were “our own and their suffering is ours.” We also had Rahul Gandhi declaring that, “I am a Kashmiri…The pain and suffering of this place is my suffering as well.” But, such statements will cut no ice with the people of Kashmir who are fed up with promises and are now desperately wanting to see some actions towards fulfilling the same!

 

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