Beyond alliterations and acronyms

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Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has asked people of Kashmir to choose between ISIS and Kashmiriyat. She urged people to safeguard their Kashmiri identity, rich Sufi heritage, secular ethos and mutual brotherhood. Absent alliteration, the CM’s statement invokes the choice offered to people of valley between “tourism and terrorism” by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his last visit to inaugurate a road tunnel. In fact, Mehbooba borrowed another of Modi’s favourite Kashmir line: that “Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat” can help resolve Kashmir issue. But such statements make little sense when weighed against the prevailing troubling situation. For these statements implicitly hold the people of Kashmir responsible for the state of affairs and as such obliges them to mend it. It is like putting the ball in the court of people and absolving oneself of any responsibility.

The issue is that the situation that Kashmir is  not of the making of people of Kashmir. True, the aspirations of the people are involved but fundamentally, they are the victims of the lingering turmoil in the state. And this turmoil itself is the making of the grave political errors traceable to the partition of India and Pakistan.  And in the 70 years since then, New Delhi, Islamabad have failed to resolve the conflict that was born as a result. What is more, the Kashmiri mainstream leaders haven’t covered themselves with glory. New Delhi has reduced them to a convenience and they haven’t protested as long as they have enjoyed power. They won’t even fight for any major political or development concession from New Delhi during the period they are in power. For example, it has now been more than two years since PDP-BJP coalition was formed and the Agenda of Alliance was agreed upon between them, but the BJP hasn’t taken even the first step towards its implementation, nor has the PDP complained.     

As for as the casually spoken terms of Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat are concerned, Modi has divested them of their profound political import. He doesn’t mention Insaniyat in terms of the willingness to talk to separatists outside the ambit of the Constitution but interprets it literally as humanity. And Jamhooriyat for him is the large turnout in the Assembly and the parliamentary polls in the state. He, however, doesn’t elaborate a bit on Kashmiriyat, equating it with Sufism which teaches co-existence.

However, as her ISIS versus Kashmir statement makes it clear, Mehbooba has chosen to ply a simplistic line on Kashmir based alliterations and acronyms. True, Kashmir is staring at fraught turn in the situation, but the choice in Valley is not the one between ISIS and Kashmir but between the leadership, both in Srinagar and New Delhi and the absence of it. As of now, this leadership is absent. There is no political will to deal with the mess in Valley, to find the resolution of the festering conflict responsible for the continuing bloodshed. But why do so, when you can easily pass the blame on to the people.

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