Who is in charge of Kashmir?

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Srinagar: If the statements from the Government are to be believed then nobody is in charge of Kashmir. First, post Burhan Wani’s killing, the government asserted that the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was not in the loop. It needs to be stated here that Mehbooba is the state’s Home Minister as well. If the Home Minister does not know and has not signed onto a major operation, who then runs the state? Then, in a debate on NDTV, Mehbooba Muftis advisor, Amitabh Mattoo brazenly said that there was no press gag in Kashmir and if there was one, it was the handiwork of lower rung people in the hierarchy. Mattoo did not even wince when he brazenly lied on national TV. Kashmir Observer has not, as is obvious to readers, hit the news stands since the past four days. Mattoo, an academic plus political commentator who divides his time between Australia and Kashmir had no qualms in uttering a brazen lie. What does this reflect? Either the government cant tell black from white, or it is figurehead nominal government where real power resides elsewhere. What the truth is? Only powers that be in Kashmir and Delhi know.

That there was a press gag in Kashmir was out in the public domain but even if there not an overt one, the official gag would have been academic.  Kashmir has been under a stringent curfew for more than a week; telephone and mobile services and by extension internet services have largely been barred. Government’s press gag as KO has pointed out reflects its jitteriness. But what about the public denial by Mattoo and Mehbooba’s assertion that she was not in the know re Burhan’s killing suggest?

The answer is scary. If we have a government that is absolutely clueless and its advisors spewing lies then the killings that have happened in the past week are self explanatory. There is no one in charge. If this is indeed the case then, the conditions that obtain in the vale are unlikely to change in the near future. And the street is the theatre of both violence and politics. The inference that can be drawn here is that on the street, it is an “Us” versus “Them” dynamic at play which means more violence and unfortunately more casualties. This, at the time of writing, is the sad but prosaic reality of Kashmir- a place where  notionally there is a government in place but in reality there is no government.

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