By K B Jandial
While the BJP is upbeat over “congress mukt” results in four of the five states that went to the poll, Kashmir, unmindful of these political upheavals, is having a counter narrative even though major political parties (& also the separatists) are preparing for electoral battle in Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha by-poll.
The dangerous narrative in Kashmir has nothing to do with the just concluded electoral semi-final or the current by-poll. Killing of a 15-year old Aamir Nazir Wani on 9th March this year in police action-firing on stone throwing young protestors at the site of a gunfight between the security forces and the militants at Padgampora village of Pulwama, unravels a new dimension to the ongoing public “resistance”. This strategy is carefully planned to save militants caught in any anti-militancy operation. The Kakpura School student had travelled 5 km from his school to be part of the stone pelting mob at encounter site and unfortunately got killed. Today’s narrative is to come out and break the cordon to help the besieged militants to escape, even at the cost of the life of unattached and unarmed civilians. The Army Chief’s warning doesn’t seem to have any tangible impact on the section of the people tacitly supporting the armed militancy. Quite alarming, indeed!
It indicates the level of radicalization that has caught the imagination of the young minds. It is fraught with new challenge to the State fighting terrorism in the 28th years. How and why this is happening? Accusing Pakistan all the time and for all the ills may not cut ice. Local factors are equally contributory to this slide in the situation.
This heartbreaking voluntary bloodshed of minors needs to be viewed in the backdrop of the much debated appointment of grandson of the veteran Pro-Pak separatist leader, SAS Geelani, in State Govt controlled SKICC on a hefty salary. While even the children of separatists are entitled to be considered for any post if found better than others but the manner in which this “privileged” boy has got the job in hush hush manner does raise questions- is it a bait to the separatist for changing the course or a deal ? But those candidates who were rejected raised several questions about the fairness of selection including fixing criterion after receipt of applications; but candidates didn’t have courage to challenge it, some being contractual employees. This is not the first time that the Govt have favoured anti-India leaders to buy temporary peace and would not the last time as they continue to be an important factor.
The issue is not the selection of Geelani’s grandson but why Kashmiri youth could not see through the designs of the leaders of the “movement”. The ordinary Kashmiri’s children are radicalised to the extent of getting killed like Aamir, for the “cause” but those spearheading Islamic jihad has insulated their families against this dreaded virus. Instead of making their kins also foot soldiers of the movement, the separatists have no qualms in making them the part of the same Indian establishment against which they are asking youth to fight jihad, and ensure their risk-free comfortable future. In the last 28 years of militancy why no harm has not come to any ward of separatists? None of their kins figured in the lists of unfortunate causalities in stone pelting incidents of 2010 or 2016 (wishing long life for all) that invited bullets or even lathis. When youth of ordinary Kashmiri families were facing pepper guns in response to their stone pelting, separatists’ wards and kins were busy elsewhere in their studies in the safe environs. When separatists advised students to skip exams till resolution of Kashmir issue, Geelani’s grand daughter was among the limited students who took the exam to save one year.
There are many other separatists who have publically declared that they are not a part of India and openly work against it, describing the State Govt as Indian stooge, but have no issue to get “stooge” Government’s favour for their kins. The list is long.
To name a few, Geelani’s elder son, Dr. Nayeem who was in State Health Department had moved to Pakistan during militancy where he was given a job in Lahore Hospital. As the situation improved in J&K he returned in 2010 and managed to get a job at SKIMS. Second son, Naseem was recruited in State’s Forest Department who was later absorbed in SKUAST where he is now a Professor. His grand sons are reportedly working outside the State, including one at Dubai, away from the killer fields of Kashmir.
A kin of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was appointed as manager in SRTC and then absorbed in the Govt and rose to higher position of Special Secretary. Now, he is in the Hospitality and Protocol Department looking after the VIPs and guests whom Mirwaiz and his likes consider Indian stooges. Shabir Shah’s medico wife was made BMO superseding scores in health department. Nayeem Khan’s wife, Hamida Nayeem got a position Kashmir University where she is now Professor in English Department. Bilal Lone’s wife is adjusted in Cultural Academy. Asyia Andrabi could not risk her son to study in Kashmir and sent him to the safe environs of Malaysia and the other one is in Pakistan. The engineer son of Ashraf Sehrai is comfortably working in Dubai.
All the four sons and a daughter of Syed Sallauddin are absorbed in the Govt. One son is a Doctor in GMC, Srinagar while another is a senior technologist in SKIMS. His third son is in education department with just 10 plus two qualification while the fourth one is working in EDI. His daughter is working in education.
In 28 years of their “freedom movement”, no separatist leader except Sheikh Abdul Aziz was killed in police action. Otherwise important leaders- Mirwaiz Farooq, his cousin brother Maulvi Mushtaq, Abdul Gani Lone, Mirwaiz South Kashmir Qazi Nisar, were killed but by Pakistan backed terrorists. And the irony is that their wards are with the killers of their parents.
Like all parents, separatists too are entitled to be protective of their wards and their all action in this context is, of course, unquestionable. While wards of Geelani or any other separatist leaders including Sallauddin has the right to seek best possible education and then Govt. jobs but why the wards of lesser children of God- ordinary Kashmiri, are deprived of it by putting them on self-destructive path through radicalization and made them the foot soldiers of Jihad? Why the burden of jihad is put on the wards of only the poor and common Muslim while separatists’ children and kins are conveniently kept away from the death-defying path proclaimed to head for haven.
The issue is not why the kins of separatists are taken in Govt. establishment or studying outside Kashmir but of their hypocrisy, deceit and treachery to the gullible people of Kashmir as they and their mentors across the border consider J&K people’s elected democratic Govt as stooge/ anti Kashmiris. The country considers even the separatists and their wards as Indian citizens who have right to compete for any Govt position like any other state subject.
The mainstream politicians too are no less responsible for the mess. They too have adopted soft-separatism as a political tool to pander to the anti-India sentiments for votes. See what the most popular mainstream leader Dr. Farooq Abdullah, has been saying. On 111th death anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah, he had said, “I ask these Hurriyat leaders to unite. We are standing by your side at this hour. Don’t think of us as your adversaries. We are not your adversaries.” He almost gave a clarion call to his party workers when he said “Don’t stay behind in this struggle of Kashmir”.
Recently, at the death anniversary of Sheikh Nazir, Dr. Farooq hailed the courage of “mujahedeen” who give their lives for freedom of Kashmir. “They have left homes for this cause. If somebody tells them, we will answer bullets with bullets. They didn’t fear bullets then (1990) why will they fear now. We have to save our nation now.” Coming from a three-time CM and former Union Minister who had called for bombing the terrorists’ camps across the border it is, indeed, unbelievable. The same Farooq Abdullah who has saluted the armed militants for struggle for azadi and supported Hurriyat’s struggle for secession, is now contesting election to enter Indian Lok Sabha for third time for which he swore to uphold the Constitution of India which says J&K a part of Union of India. On one hand he is supporting the cause of Hurriyat (Pakistan) even the armed militancy, for secession of J&K from India, and on the other campaigning in alliance with Congress to be member of Indian Parliament. Is he going to Lok Sabha to seek azadi for J&K? Isn’t a political disloyalty to people of both J&K and India, incidentally both are dear to him?
Even Chidambaram has spoken about Kashmir that tends to embolden the “mujahedeen” in their fight against India. He pronounced, “India has nearly lost Kashmir”. This is obviously with reference to 90 deaths in 2016 summer unrest besides injuries to thousands. How can he forget 125 deaths of 2010 unrest when he was the Home Minister? Does he want people to believe that situation is worse than nineties? Even the sidelined BJP leader Yashwant Sinha who heads non-Govt Delhi based civil society group, is endeavoring to broker settlement of vexed Kashmir issue. To seek political relevance to his group he acknowledged the courage of terrorists. (“Kashmiris are no longer afraid of India”).
There is no dearth of intellectual and columnists who espouse the cause of Kashmir’s struggle and keep the hope of azadi alive in the minds of people of Kashmir. On the contrary, there is hardly anyone or political leaders outside the Govt. of the day who could strongly and convincingly disagree with the champions of Kashmir’s armed and secessionist movement, and mirror to them the true story of India- a flourishing democracy, strong & independent judiciary, powerful & independent media, deep rooted pluralism and military, nuclear and economic power.
There is a need for the Kashmir’s mainstream political parties to bury their competitive politics and join hands to bring back youth to the mainstream without pandering to secessionist sentiments. There could be no better achievement for all of them than to get the bloodshed stopped. The newly entrant into politics, Mufti Syed’s son, Tassaduq sounded much matured when he asked his party workers not to risk their lives to get him elected. Life is decidedly more precious than electoral victory. Kashmiri politicians need to control the temptation of anti-Delhi rants when out of power to keep them relevance. Initiation of dialogue with willing stakeholders with supportive local media may change the narrative of Kashmir and prevent further bloodshed.
(The writer is former Secretary Information, health, transport, CAPD departments and a member of Public Service Commission, feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org)