Raouf Rasool

Debate on special status lends fresh coinage to politics here

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Thanks to the raging controversy about the J&K’s special status, the two regional parties here have got a new lease of life. Having been pushed into the dock, these parties which were devoid of issues to talk with the people have suddenly got an opportunity to engage in some fresh rhetorical warfare. And this is what they are doing right now – blaming all and sundry barring themselves for the continued dilution of the state’s special status – the Article 370.

True that this law has, over the years, lost much of its teeth, but more than anyone else, including the successive governments in New Delhi, it is the State governments here which are responsible for it. Needless to say that without the support and connivance of the State governments there is not much the Centre could have done to Article 370. Mind it, thus far it is only the NC and the PDP which have been in power here, with or without the support of the Congress party. So instead of blaming others, it will be worthwhile these parties to look inwards to see their own complicity in bringing the situation to where it is now. One really wonders if anyone is actually amused by their crying wolf because all the three parties are equally guilty of not only diluting the Article 370 but also responsible for much of the troubles in Jammu and Kashmir.

They say the judgment of the ethics and means is dependent upon the political position of those sitting in judgment. So as long as the NC or PDP was ruling the State and Congress at the Centre, all they did to Kashmir was “for the welfare and betterment, progress and development” of the place and its peoples; but once they have been ousted out of power, they have suddenly realized the dangers Kashmir is faced with under the BJP rule.

Notwithstanding what BJP says about the Article 370, it is for sure that the party cannot do much about it as it may not be constitutionally and legally tenable. And the fallouts of such a move are certainly far weighty than any potential political benefits. Congress-NC combine knows it better than anyone else – for the “secret and out-of-turn hanging” of the Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru didn’t yield them anticipated political dividends. Repercussions of the move certainly translated in their electoral debacle in Kashmir, if only they could overlook the enormous psychological damage it has caused here by sowing fresh seeds of popular alienation.

Certainly the law can be diluted through manipulations, as has been done so far, but it cannot be out-rightly abrogated. And that indeed is the worry.

Now those who are out in open speaking about the issue are doing so merely for their own political benefits – in reality nobody has any love lost for the Article 370. The BJP, which claims that this constitutional provision is responsible for the “lack of development” in Jammu and Kashmir – must look at the developmental indices elsewhere in Indian mainland where there is no Article 370 and yet the world’s poorest of the poor live there. Kashmir is better off than most such regions in India.

Coming back to the NC, PDP and Congress’ newly discovered enthusiasm for the ‘defense’ of Article 370, these parties must grow up now. Their leaders’ clowning antics have lost its appeal. Their beautiful articulation on issues is nothing but impressive speechifying. The new generations in Kashmir who were born and have grown up in the pornography of violence around them, and whose education and recreational pursuits have exposed them to the happenings from all over in today’s mediatized world, cannot be fooled into believing hollow claims and false promises. They do not identify with the boastful claims of these parties as they are not able to corroborate it from the books of history. Having seen the ‘rulers’ here acting as mere extensions of New Delhi and obediently carrying out the orders of their masters with complete disregard for the local sensitivities and sensibilities, they no longer buy into claims “our stance is 100 percent statement of justice for the people of Kashmir and 100 percent denunciation of the role of New Delhi.”

They know it that nothing is black and white. No political group can claim that its history, its cause and its being is allied with the angels; and that its adversaries are evil, tied to the Devil. They must know that deliberate omission of their own history may be dictated by political expediency for them; but for the common people it is deliberate deceit!

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