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The farce of promises

The first requirement for being shameless is to be brave. A shameless person can never be made to feel ashamed. That is what one witnesses in the state’s political theatre. Only a few months back National Conference and PDP boycotted local bodies’ elections in protest against central government’s ‘unclear’ stand on Article 35-A of Indian constitution that gives protection to the state subject law in Jammu and Kashmir. The constitutional provision is facing a legal challenge by an extremist Hindu lobby—deemed close to the ruling BJP—in the Supreme Court on its validity. With central government maintaining discreet silence on the issue, there are apprehensions that 35-A can be done away with at the altar of BJP’s political expediency. Both, PDP and NC, by boycotting the local bodies’ elections, sought to give out the impression that they were more concerned with the state’s individual character than to their individual party gains. Farooq Abdullah crossed all limits when he threatened that if New Delhi (central government) did not make its stand clear, his party would boycott parliamentary and assembly elections as well. It hardly had any effect on the central government which continues with its ambiguity on the issue. It has rather hardened its position on these constitutional provisions. Finance minister Ashok Jaitley, last week, had written a blog in which he called Article 35-A “constitutionally vulnerable” and a “surreptitious executive insertion in the Constitution” while terming it as a “historical blunder” committed by Jawaharlal Nehru.

One had thought that NC and PDP would come together to put pressure on the central government and warn it of any misadventure in Jammu and Kashmir. But as the things stand now, it appears that, both, PDP and NC are doing merely a lip service political parties usually make during elections. They now seem more concerned with party politics than any other issues. Assembly elections are yet to be announced but NC and PDP are already on election mode. Both have resorted to conventional tricks to woo people. They have resorted to emotional blackmailing of common people. PDP’s offer of legal assistance to Jamaat-e-Islami and JKLF which were banned by central government recently is nothing but election ploy to garner support in the elections. The partys statements against harassment of civilians and militant families have echoed again forgetting the fact that it during PDP-BJP government that the people of Kashmir suffered the most.

Farooq Abdullah too is back with his customary gimmicks. Besides raising the bogey of autonomy, he promises many more moons to the people if his party is voted to power. His latest promises are setting up of a reconciliation commission and “no-support to army’s operation all-out”. The question, however, is how would Farooq Abdullah and his men stop army from the operation? Army and all other central forces are operating under a legal cover approved by parliament of India. It is the sole discretion of the central government to reverse the law. Previous experience has shown Farooq Abdullah the most faithful attendant of the central government. In 1999 when then BJP-government led by Vajpayee formed the draconian POTA, Farooq Abdullah then chief minister of the state was the first to welcome it and implement it in the state. A Safakadal resident was the first person to have fallen to this draconian law under which he was thrown on road and his house seized and sealed. People of the state still remember the reign of terror they face during Farooq Abdullah’s government between 1996 and 2002. Indiscriminate arrests and killings of hundreds of unarmed civilians was a daily affair. It was during this period that SOG (a force drawn from Jammu and Kashmir police and Ikhwanis—a state-sponsored murderous force—was ruling the streets. Kidnapping against ransom, killings with impunity and enforcing disappearances after arrest, raping and molesting women was order of the day.

Known murderers like Javed Shah (Bandipora), Papa Kishtwari (Pampore) and Naba Azad (Shehlipora Achhabal) were admitted in the National Conference. Javed Shah was elevated as MLC. The 2009-2014 Omar Abdullah rule is no exception. The infamous killings of civilians (122) in 2010 are still fresh in peoples’ minds. With such a dark and brutal record, one needs to have extra degree of shamelessness to make promises.