J&K: The Deep Divide Within

07 Apr, 2013    ·   3875

Kashinath Pandit on the divide between Jammu & Kashmir in the fallout of Afzal Guru's execution

The hypocrisy of the workable alliance between NC and Congress in the State lies exposed in the aftermath of Afzal Guru’s execution. Neither the PDP, nor its allies on the Opposition benches, or the majority of the NC ruling party members hid their sympathy with Afzal Guru. Indeed, for many MLAs, both Guru and the murderer of J&K CID Inspector Amar Chand are now “Sahibs and Martyrs.”

What is the contemporary political discourse within Kashmir Valley? And how do the leading political parties – NC and PDP – project and shape this discourse?

The Chief Minister sees justification in the return of their mortal remains for iconic manifestation by the side of the grave of his grandfather on the banks of the Dal. As Afzal and Maqbul have become “Sahibs” and “Martyrs” to the mainstream political leadership in the state, and by implication to others of their fold, the question that remains is: What then is the definition of a “terrorist” in their or in Pakistan’s lexicon?

If these people are not terrorists, then there is no terrorist or terrorism in Kashmir. If so, why do these leaders retain and, indeed, clamour for ‘Z’ level security that burdens tax-paying citizens to the tune of billions of rupees?  It was expected of the State Legislative Assembly, to formally endorse the Parliament’s resolution condemning Pakistan’s inference in our internal matters. It did not. The majority in the assembly declined to move a motion to that effect. BJP, NPP and their allies protested and walked out; they couldn’t do more in their fight for national interests.  NC’s coalition partner maintained its stoicism; they want to remain in power even at the cost of national sovereignty.

If the assembly was not in session, the divide in Jammu and Kashmir would not have been reflected so palpably and the hypocrisy behind the show of unity would not have been exposed blatantly. Fissures run deep between the NC and its major ally on a host of sensitive issues like AFSPA, Amendments to the Panchayat Act, and Indo-Pak talks etc. but on the issue of hostility towards the minorities of the Valley, they are very much in cahoots -- a prime example being that of the  sabotaging of the Hindu Shrine Bill in the Assembly. Following the execution of Guru, the State Assembly has become a venue not for debates on crucial issues but for hurling invective against Indian State, ranging from issues of discrimination to those of communal prejudice. The Speaker of the House freely allows India bashing, while the Opposition enjoys the vitriolic and those on the treasury benches sit, mute and apparently insensitive to  national interests. It is indeed a show of ambivalence par excellence.

There is Jammu-Kashmir-Ladakh divide; there is NC-Congress divide, there is Jammu BJP-Congress divide, there is BJP-BJP divide, and there is NC-PDP divide. But within this spectrum, there is complete unity and understanding among the ruling coalition and the valley-based opposition in castigating, abusing and deriding the Indian State.  The nationalist NPP, BJP and JSM parties stand isolated ---- Hindu Shrines Bill again being a prime illustration of the point in question.  In this context, the Jammu electorate must question how it lets not only regional, but also national interests, get subverted by a clearly hostile majority?

What progress can the State make under this multi-dimensional divide? Where is the national mainstream?  Our much hyped developmental plans become victims of political rivalry, our future prosperity is made hostage to communal propensity, and our security is threatened by subversion within. By questioning the verdict of the Supreme Court on the Afzal Guru case in the assembly, its members have challenged the very Constitution of India by virtue of which they have become members or ministers. This is treason and should be cognizable under law.

Guru is a hero in the eyes of Kashmiri leadership, in the true spirit of the axiom that one man’s terrorist is another man’s hero. If Afzal Guru and others are heroes who fought and died for the freedom of Kashmiris from Indian “occupation”, the ruling group and its MLAs should shun hypocrisy and quit the government. The State Assembly declined to move a resolution condemning Pakistan’s interference in our internal matters. At the same time, it also declined to endorse the resolution of the Parliament that rejects a Pakistani resolution on Kashmir. What does this mean? Has the state government any moral authority to remain in the driver’s seat or not?

The die appears to have been cast.  Hypocrisy, so far concealed from the public gaze, stands exposed. Apparently, India is steadily losing its grip on Kashmir because the proxies from among the locals that ran New Delhi’s errands for nearly six decades and more, have changed horses mid-course. The execution of Guru has, at least, fully exposed the hypocrisy hitherto shrouding relations between the Indian Union and the State. The immediate reaction of the deepening divide echoed  in the voice of a Jammu MLA who demanded the separation of Jammu give  these circumstances. Ladakh is already on the run.

Let us not become panicky with the word “separation”. The region of Kashmir as part of the Indian Union has been engaged in a grim battle between conservatism and modernity. Now the Indian experiment with secular-democracy in Kashmir has failed. Conservatism has gained the upper hand. Let it be so. Jammu and Ladakh nationalist elements have been crying themselves hoarse all these decades about the fragility of “unity” of three regions because of the majority-based discriminatory supervening of the Srinagar ruling elite. An ultimate solution of this perplexing situation lies in the hands of the Jammu electorate, but only if the people there understand.