This has been the trait of opportunistic Kashmiri leaders ever since the fall of Maharaja Hari Singh
The recent statements of two former Chief Ministers of the State are similar in content and tenor amounting to threatening the authorities in case they chose to take a particular course of action. There is no difference between Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, the two young political rivals, because when in power they resort to emotional blackmailing and when out of power they begin to threaten openly. This has been the trait of opportunistic Kashmiri leaders ever since the fall of Maharaja Hari Singh. While Mehbooba has burnt her own feet by publicly acknowledging the extremist ideology of her party, Omar does not want to lag behind and has challenged the Governor’s administration to scrap the holiday on July 13 and see the consequences. It is a time tested formula of Kashmiri politicians to sing paean of the Union Government and the ruling party when in power and blame it for each and everything that happens in Kashmir when out of power. They have mastered the art so well that they take no time in changing colours. In fact, this trait has been passed to them down the generations.
Unwilling to accept her own incompetence by acknowledging her failure to keep her flock together she like the Abdullahs has chosen the time-tested technique of shifting the blame on Central leadership. She has chosen not only to apportion blame on the Centre but also threatened of dire consequences in case her party splits. The imminent split in PDP is an internal matter of the party because some of her legislators, who were unhappy with her style of functioning and against the dynastic rule as well as her preferential treatment to a favoured few, have openly revolted against her. She lacks the basic leadership instinct and maturity to control such rebellion because she believes in ‘kitchen cabinet politics’.
By invoking Syed Sallahudin and Yasin Malik, both of whom are terrorists as well as separatists, Mehbooba Mufti has openly acknowledged that her party is a political face of the separatist movement supported by the terrorists
Parachuting of her brother into the inner core of the party and tight control by her maternal uncle of party affairs did not augur well with many of her legislators who were feeling left out and cheated in the party. Rather than accepting the challenge of setting her own house in order she chose the easier path of threatening the Centre with “return to 1987 era”, least realising the consequences of her statement. She should have at least refreshed her knowledge of history before making such a reference because the actors involved in 1987 fiasco were none other than her own father among others including Farooq Abdullah and Rajiv Gandhi. By invoking Syed Sallahudin and Yasin Malik, both of whom are terrorists as well as separatists, she has openly acknowledged that her party is a political face of the separatist movement supported by the terrorists. She is now in an open competition with the Abdullahs of JKNC as a consequence of which the separatists are going to have a field day. The administration would need to keep a close eye on her activities.
Coming to Omar Abdullah, JKNC Vice President, while questioning Governor’s advisers skipping the so-called Martyrs’ Day function in Srinagar threatened the Governor’s administration stating, “If you want to take this out of the list of state functions, then try it and we will also see.” A brazen threat to the authorities. He also questioned the administration’s decision to convene a meeting in the Civil Secretariat on a state holiday. In the first place Omar needs to explain as to why July 13, be celebrated as a state holiday when two out of the three regions of the state do not agree with the false narrative of the events of July 13, 1931 as propagated by the self-seeker Kashmiri leadership ignoring the sentiments of the other two regions. Secondly what mandate does he enjoy to threaten the administration? JKNC is well known for its destructive politics. The role played by its leadership and cadre in the events that followed Burhan Wani’s killing and the resurgence of stone-pelting with the active support of his party are well known facts by now. Is Omar threatening the administration with re-emergence of the NC’s destructive politics? The people of Jammu and Ladakh will not bow down to this threat and would give adequate response, if needed.
Omar’s contention that the July 13, 1931 uprising was not against any individual or religion is totally wrong and not supported by facts. The fact is that it was a communal uprising by Kashmiri speaking Muslims against a benevolent Hindu Maharaja and the Hindus as part of an Anglo-Muslim conspiracy. His assertion that entire country was part of it is also false. What to talk of the country, even in the state itself none other than the Kashmiri speaking Muslims formed part of this communal rebellion. While they mourn the deaths of rebels, why is not even a word said about those innocent Kashmiri Pandits and Hindu Dogras in other parts of the state who were brutally attacked and killed by rampaging local mobs? If they were protesting against the autocratic rule as claimed by Omar, why were the properties of the Kashmiri Pandits looted and why were they attacked and killed almost at the same time when they were trying to attack the Central Jail? Omar clearly forgets that it was a well-planned communal assault on the Hindus with tacit support of his grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who had been chosen as the leader of Kashmiri Muslims by the Anglo-Muslim Alliance. Where is the justification of holding a state function on that day every year and celebrate it as a state holiday? In fact by doing so the murderers, rioters and rebels are being eulogised. The people of Jammu and Ladakh do not recognise it as Martyrs’ Day but celebrate it as a Black Day and do not want any holiday on this particular day. Truly speaking, July 13, 1931 is the harbinger of communal violence and radicalisation in Kashmir. Giving it state level importance in fact acts as a motivator for those who do not want the return of Kashmiri Pandits to retain its monolith character and warning to the minorities to be prepared to bear the consequences if the will of the goons is opposed.
Apart from the two regional parties, the event is not patronised by others in the state. The Congress as usual is a divided house. While, its Kashmir unit joins the state function, its Jammu unit is opposed to it and remains away from it. It goes to the credit of Governor’s administration that it chose not to observe a holiday in the civil secretariat and held a meeting of the secretaries instead. Jammu Bar association also set an example by declaring to continue to work and not observe a holiday. Hopefully, this would motivate others to emulate them and voluntarily surrender the holiday so that it loses its relevance. Omar’s threat will then have no meaning. The opportunistic leaders of Kashmir need to realise that much water has flown under the Jhelum and nation is no longer ready to succumb to their emotional blackmailing or threats. The need of the hour is restoration of peace and normalcy in Kashmir. The Kashmiri leaders would be well advised to become contributors to the peace process rather than disruptors. They will have to be very careful with their statements, they should be conciliatory and not provocative. Sensing the anger, Kashmiri awam has against them, their provocative statements may do them more harm than good and they may gradually lose their political relevance.
(The writer is a Jammu based political commentator, columnist, security and strategic analyst)