Please Spare Us The Sympathy!

Though I try not to delve too much into the murky realm of politics, I nevertheless anxiously await election times- although for a very selfish reason. For this is the only time when one sees politicians, like court jesters of yore, providing good entertainment by making a spectacle of themselves- and in such depressing times this actually works like an elixir!  My favourite is when politicians after riding roughshod over our hopes and aspirations for four years suddenly realise that they were actually supposed to work for the people and starting to recant their gross indifference, promise to make amends if re-elected and unashamedly seek forgiveness- all for my measly vote (which I don’t even cast)!

This time however, there is a perceptible absence of self-flagellation and instead political parties are busy in directing verbal barbs at each other with such monotony that it has become jarring to the ears. But thankfully, the Congress party has not let me down and its latest political ‘offensive’ in Kashmir is providing the much required dose of unadulterated humour. The Congress party would have us believe that it is genuinely concerned about our well- being and is certainly working overtime to let us know this. After all, didn’t Rahul Gandhi come all the way to Kashmir just to tell us, “I am a Kashmiri…The pain and suffering of this place is my suffering as well”? And didn’t Sonia Gandhi go public in expressing her anguish over the sorry state of affairs here by taking the pains to inform us that, “Kashmir had a special place in our polity” and that the people of the State were “our own and their suffering is ours”?

Perhaps, the Congress may have realised that these emotional appeals had failed to cut any ice with the people of Kashmir.  Why else would it go on a ‘pacification’ mission overdrive through its top rung leaders? First, in February, we had the Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram telling us of how the ‘strong stand’ being taken by the Army against any dilution or amendment to the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was making it difficult for the government to move forward on this proposal. In an amusing development, Chidambaram went on to defend the Congress led UPA government (accused of turning a blind eye on this issue) by saying that any question about opposition to amend the AFSPA to make it “more humanitarian” should be posed to the Army! Mr Chidambaram, besides being a veteran politician, you are also a renowned legal luminary- so, would you please care to tell us whether the Army is an organ of the State subservient to the legislature or an autonomous constitutional authority over which the Government has no control? Is India a democracy or a banana republic?

But the Congress mission did not end here. Close on the heels of Chidambaram, we had Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh saying, “New Delhi needs to feel the pain of Kashmiris” and “What Kashmir needs is the right political engagement, not a strategy influenced by spy and security agencies.” To futher reinforce his views, we now have senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Mani Shanker Aiyar conceding that the people of Kashmir “still believe it is Army, police and paramilitary forces which rule them.” Well, Mr Aiyar, if your colleague Chidambaram says that the Army won’t let the government amend the AFSPA and Jairam Ramesh tells us that New Delhi’s Kashmir policy is hostage to “a strategy influenced by spy and security agencies,” then are the people of Kashmir at fault for thinking so?

When will the Congress stop shedding crocodile tears for the people of Kashmir and do something about what it terms as their ‘pain and suffering’? Till when will New Delhi try and hide its own incompetency by blaming the security forces? But, Mani Shankar Ayiar’s ramblings have had atleast positive outcome- for once the Hurriyat (G) has sought to contest his arguments with logic instead of ascribing the same to its pet ‘grand conspiracy’ theory. And what it has to say certainly makes sense. A piece of advice or suggestion (in case the former is considered ‘sacrilegious’ by the Congress) - please don’t waste your energy in sympathising with us: you may have all the time in the world to plead your case, but we no longer have any patience to listen to meaningless words or hollow promises. 

Tailpiece: Though I am not an avid Hurriyat supporter, I tend to agree with the Hurriyat (G) when it terms Aiyar’s bizarre discourse as “absurd and silly.” I am also not a Congress baiter and so would be very happy if the Congress can learn a lesson from its past mistakes. It would certainly do the Congress well, if while selecting its spokesperson in future, more attention is paid to his understanding of the Kashmir issue rather than the ability to talk gibberish or fluency in English!

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