Beyond criticism to government or any political party, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is defunct. What make it so are the deaf ears of political pundits, they once gain power, plug their ears then after. Surprisingly when the current coalition government was voted to assembly the basket of promises was so heavy that people thought it will burst any moment. Neither its lid was opened nor any promises heard ever. In conflict situations when there are elections promises touch skies, just to earn public trust. This happens in valley too. When it was peoples’ Democratic Party, they went after widening roads and couldn’t see anything else. Now it is NC-Congress with a young chief minister at the top, who remains busy between Delhi-Kashmir.
There are numbers of issues in the state, hard to count, which are left unheard. The power of state is only because they have a massive number of armed force deployments in and around the state. That makes it world’s most militarised zone.
With the deportation of noted Human Rights activist, Gautam Navlakha the state proves there is something brewing in Valley which they try hard to ignore and hide. Playing hide-and-seek with peace and protests, the valley summer seems of surprises. For being pro-people in India means anti-state, proves the last month’s government action. While the government said “his presence in Valley is not needed”.
Just about a month ago Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, in a seminar at Jammu, said: “The media should exercise its freedom of expression with greater sense of transparency and responsibility as it can prove to be vital tool in transforming a civilization to a better world to live in.” So here we are with noted human rights activists being sent back to their home by the same Abdullah’s men.
How can India still beat drums of calm and peaceful Kashmir?
In November 2010, the same government sent back the US academic Prof Richard Shapiro from New Delhi airport when he was on his way to Kashmir with Angana Chatterji, who is also an anthropology professor and co-convener of the human rights tribunal. It was only because a year ago the tribunal had come up with an extensive report on mass graves in Kashmir, saying “2,900 unidentified persons were buried in these graves after being killed by security forces”.
Crackdown on activists or journalists will bear no fruit but only add more to enmity between the valley and the state. The Indian government’s action in Delhi to Baba Ramdev proves what they can give to Kashmiris. At its worse the system, of politics in India leaves no stone unturned to suppress people everywhere. Dialogues are for TV shows and action comes at mid-night just to avoid public eye. Here in valley same thing happens, from Shopian double-rape-murder to killings of 2010 agitation, justice never comes through victims’ door.
Of what they say is peace is a rest after a long spell of spontaneous protests followed by official denials. Still people try to move ahead and live their day-to-day life which comes at halt every year. Huge loss of public earning, both at the hands of ‘big halt’ and corruption is the contemporary theory of valley. Not only has this but now the other side too joined the brigade, be it through pseudo electoral faces or negative politics.
What now is yet to see is the complete erode of public values and authentication of official denials? At some cosy corners, cream decides the established lies and conveys the shine of it to general public. Civil society joins but often they join positions and manage at some early conclusions.
More focus is on tourism development and less heed is paid to human life development. Some days back when a friend of mine travelled through some parts of North Kashmir, she was surprised to see beyond what they are told across Jammu. Some may say Kashmir lives in pessimism but when optimism is hijacked by negation what survives is something yet to be discovered. It may be hard to believe but for sure the Jammu and Kashmir state, be it under any top brass, is struggling to accommodate itself in the human ambience of which it has been orphaned since decades.
First published in Counter Currents.