Kashmir: The Political Circus

Caught between warring politicians who are hell bent upon pulling down each other in the race for power, the people in Jammu and Kashmir have been caught in an unending political circus. Unhappy to stay out of power even sensible, experienced and 'educated' leaders are raising charges which they well know cannot be proved even in a kangaroo court, yet their persistence with the ridiculous will baffle many. The common man in Kashmir perhaps sees this political theatre as a welcome relief from the bandhs, strikes and cross fire that he was used to earlier. How long he will have patience remains to be seen, but the Abdullahs, Begs and Sayyeds in the Valley need to search for issues which are closer to the people's welfare than charging each other and then retracting these at the drop of a hat.

The order-disorder paradox was thus once again evident in Jammu and Kashmir, with political stability threatened over allegations of involvement of the Chief Minister in an infamous sex scam of 2006, continuous bandhs and strikes over killings alleged at the hands of security forces and militant activities. The main political crisis in Kashmir seems to have blown over at least for now, with the Governor rejecting the resignation of the Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah.

Given the highly complex political contest involved, it was evident that aim of the Opposition to embarrass the National Conference-Congress led government has not succeeded. The rather emotional outburst by Mr. Abdullah after he was accused of being involved in the sex scandal worked in his favor and the PDP the main opposition has been placed on the back foot. But such incidents are likely to occur in the days ahead for the extremely murky politics in Kashmir has been witnessing such charges and allegations from time to time.

The first fortnight of the month saw a series of bandhs and protests with the cycle finally broken with revelations that the death of a youth in Srinagar was caused by his own friends. The body of Asrar Ahmed Dar, 20, a student who was reported missing from uptown Maisuma area, was found in Rainawari, leading to a follow up of the protests but this came to be attributed to rivalry. Other alleged murders also came to be attributed to crime rather than atrocities or action by the security forces.

The Muzaffar Jan Commission appointed to probe the Shopian murders found four personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir police guilty which to an extent assuaged the local sentiment but separatists continued to harp on the issue over the month. There are also concerns that this may fester into serializing such incidents which has been happening in the past when law and order issues have been converted into attacks on security forces particularly when involving women or young men,. The larger implication of resentment in the youth also needs to be addressed so that in the long term this does not snow ball into deep rooted affliction in the people.

It is however clear that all these incidents are not spontaneous and have been largely engineered with allegations that most of the bandhs have been monetarily sponsored. Thus there is no grass roots support for such activities. The government would also have to ultimately seek a way out by exposing the nexus thereby gaining credibility as the cycle of bandhs related to the killings was exposed only when it was seen that the Srinagar boy killed allegedly by the security forces later turned out to be a victim of rivalry with friends. The Chief Minister is getting a hang on the situation as he has issued instructions that, 'No law and order situation or protests should be dealt without the presence of a magistrate.' At the political level the role of grass roots workers is important. The authorities will also do well to shift the debate to larger issues as development and tourism.

The central design of the separatists and the terrorist groups at present appears to be to get the CRPF troops out of the Valley. However after supporting this demand for some time, Mr Abdullah the Chief Minister recognized that this was not practical. "We have over 70 battalions of the CRPF and the state police's strength is not even one-third of it. Five battalions of the state police which includes India Reserve Police are undergoing training. So any rash decision in this aspect can be detrimental to state's security," he said. "A lot is required to be done in terms of augmenting the numbers of J&K police, upgrading their equipment and improving their levels of training," he added.

Omar faces the challenge as a young chief minister in many spheres, so far the young man has not distinguished himself in the high office, he has very less time to prove his credibility, for the political wolves in Kashmir are waiting to pounce on his next gaffe.  


More by :  Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle

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