Positivity in the air
Percy Bysshe Shelley concluded his Ode to the West Wind saying: “The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
After three month long harsh winter with Valley experiencing some of the coldest days and nights, the Spring is here and with it, one can smell some positivity in the otherwise gloomy Kashmir. Elections to the District Development Councils were held in a peaceful and fair manner; chair/vice-chairpersons of the councils have been sworn in; the situation in Kashmir is, by and large, peaceful; tourists have started revisiting Kashmir; political parties are holding meetings of their workers all over the Valley; Indian and Pakistani militaries have agreed to respect ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control and; Hurriyat (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar, as per police, is no longer under house arrest. These are all positive developments and need is to build on this positivity to ensure that coming days see peace, prosperity and development in Jammu and Kashmir.
It has been more than 19 months since the government of India did away with the Article 370 of Indian Constitution, that gave a special status to then Jammu and Kashmir state among the rest of the states and bifurcated the state into two union territories – Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. However, Jammu and Kashmir was declared a UT with Assembly. Without going into the debate that whether GoI’s decision was constitutional or not; legal or not; moral or not, one thing that need to be taken note of is that since Aug 05, 2019, there has been no political movement in Jammu and Kashmir on any front. Most of the leaders of mainstream political parties were detained post August 05 and remained under detention for several months. Absence of these leaders from the scene resulted into absence of politics in the UT and such absence was, in no way, good for the health of a democracy. Democracy is battle of ideas. All the political players, keeping the interest of the people and the nation paramount, have their own ways of looking at the situation and hunting for the answers to the questions haunting their people. Approaches could be different, ideologies could be different, modus operandi could be different but the goal remains the same – working for welfare of people and the nation. These differences are what make democracy a beautiful concept.
Now that the political process is again picking up, need is to provide it the requisite momentum and for that the GoI need to clear decks for holding of Assembly elections. Bureaucratic rule, no matter how efficient it would be, can never be a substitute to a popular government. The political leaders are connected with masses, they know their aspirations and grievances in a better way which bureaucrats can’t have an idea about. Even small time political workers of a village are more connected to the masses than SDMs and Tehsildars. Need is to strengthen the politics, provide a healthy atmosphere wherein a political process takes routes afresh. Ideally, following the re-organisation of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the GoI should have geared up for holding elections to the UT assembly. However, nothing of the sort has happened and whether the powers, that be, like it or not, people of Jammu and Kashmir are unrepresented from last one year. Whatever decisions are being made have no or very little input from the people of Jammu and Kashmir and that is not how it should be. The positivity in the air demands that steps are taken to add to this positivity and holding of Assembly elections, wherein ordinary citizens would feel empowered to decide who should be in the chair, would undoubtedly add to the prevailing positivity.