Reach out to people
For the past some time now, the government response to the situation here has been overly reactive. Whenever it feels there are chances of any trouble, curfew-like restrictions are imposed on certain police station areas of the city and the countryside. And with this, the government thinks its job is done. Nobody seems to be bothered about addressing the underlying malaise and causes of trouble. Each day must pass off “peacefully” without much hassles – this seems to be the aim with these short-term security measures, while nobody seems to have an idea as to what could and should be done on long-term basis to pull out this place from the conflict trap it is caught up in. No wonder that in Kashmir, both the ordinary people as well as their “elected representatives” seem to have taken this as normal, and neither have time or energies to think beyond it.
The history of Kashmir’s worst times stands witness that when these “public representatives”, the legislators – MLAs, MLCs and even MPs – should have been with the people, sharing their pain and agony, they preferred to stay behind the covers of official security. This selfish behaviour of the “public representatives” have always cast huge doubts not only over their utility but also about the credibility of the institution of democracy here, which the Government of India and its mainstream media, extols as being the panacea of all ills in Kashmir.
When it comes to reaping the benefits of power, the mainstream politicians are in the forefront to secure their share of the privilege but when the people who are as per their own admissions the real source of their power are in trouble, the political leaders turn blind to their plight. If an MLA or an MP, who as per the election figures has secured several thousand votes in past elections, can’t dare to step out in public domain within his or her own constituency with a couple of dozen supporters to try and reach out to the angry population, isn’t it an indicator that something is terribly wrong with the system that is forced down the throats of the ordinary people?
A landmark observation of the two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court gave voice to the similar sentiment few years back when it counseled politicians to remain in the confines of their homes and offices if they feel threatened by the citizens. “You should not let these men (politicians) to come out. Their presence in public places itself threatens the common men. We do not know why it has become a matter of prestige for them to move with 10-15 uniformed security personnel carrying lethal weapons,” a two-judge bench of Delhi High Court had told the Centre while hearing a PIL on police reforms. In sharp remarks laced with sarcasm, the judges could not hide their dismay when they said “If these people feel so threatened they should not come out in public places.” The judges said they (politicians) were not a national asset which should be protected; and if they were, the citizens would protect them and there was no need to be threatened by them (public).
By this logic, our MLAs, MLCs and MPs too are no different, for they have always failed to identify with the people. While they enjoy all privileges and perks through the blatant misuse of the state paraphernalia at the cost of the state exchequer, their record on the public scale is dismal. The public sentiments as well as their interests have been put to winds. What the MLAs, MLCs and MPs do here is that they show-off their power at the cost of the state coffers and its machinery and seek and secure their selfish ends only. Common people, as always disadvantaged they were, can do precious little to secure even their ordinary rights – for instance their right to walk the road without being bothered by the long cavalcades of political leaders, of whom there is no dearth here. Each time some VIP steps out of his or her home or office, people have to bear a lot of inconvenience on roads and streets as they are practically held hostage to facilitate hassle-free movement of these powerful people. Despite enjoying the proverbial moon and stars, what do these leaders do for the people and the state in return? In fact what could be expected of them if they can’t even bother to visit “their” battered “electorate” when the latter is nursing some of the worst misgivings against the system which these “public representatives” represent and are a part and parcel of!