Tuesday, May 22, 2018
 News Details
Supporting Azadi! Farooq’s Change of Heart or a Stunt?
Straight Talk

By K B Jandial

Taking mainstream political parties and separatists in J&K as well as the entire Indian nation by disbelief, to many disgusting, the 3- time State Chief Minister and a former Indian Union Minister in the last UPA Govt Dr. Farooq Abdullah “offered support to separatists” for their the success of their movement for Azadi, with unsolicited advice to “remain united to achieve their goal”. The occasion for dropping this unexpected bomb shell was the 111st birth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah. It is no secret that this iconic and un-parallel mass leader had himself vacillated his stand in his life - from being a Muslim leader to secular politician; from anti- Dogra crusader to Maharaja’ PM; from Indian loyalist & pro accession to plebiscite activist to mainstream politics and finally laid to rest wrapped in tricolor as a true Indian leader.

Farooq’s outburst in favour of “azadi” at Sheikh Sahib’s mausoleum is not a befitting tribute to the leader who had confided in one of his attending doctors during his last days, a desire to “wrap his mortal remains in Tricolor”. To be fair to him, he never wanted J&K to be part of Muslim State of Pakistan, Sheikh Abdullah had even derided the idea of Independence of Kashmir during his historic speech in the Constituent Assembly of J&K on 5th November, 1949 when he said that Kashmir was independent from 15th August, 1947 to 26th October, 1947 and see what happened to it . He had referred to Pakistan sponsored tribal invasion supported by Pak army who managed to annex a sizeable part of J&K. He had asked, after having seen what Pakistan did to us what is the guarantee of Kashmir’s freedom in future?

Hardly a fortnight ago Dr. Farooq had stoked another controversy by saying that Kashmir across the LOC is not any body’s father’s ( baap) property and it cannot be conquered. He had been a powerful votary of converting LOC in to International border.

Every leader is entitled to change his ideology, political stand or even party with the turn of events in any democracy. Despite his early brush with JKLF in PoK, Dr. Abdullah has always been considered to be a popular pro-India Kashmiri leader with secular outlook that almost took him to the exalted constitutional position of Vice President of India at one stage. This was the level of the confidence the Indian nation had in him. Then what is the turn of event or provocation that made him to overturn his consistent stand on Kashmir’s misplaced notion of “Azadi” which he and his revered father had always rubbished it as illogical and unachievable? He has now thrown his political weight behind APHC at the time when people of Kashmir are expressing their antipathy for inconvenient and unproductive “weekly protest calendar” that has not only ruined Kashmir’s economy but also brought unfathomable miseries to the common man and unnecessary causalities in their fizzled “movement” of past five months.

Using the same occasion of Sheikh’s birth anniversary, Dr. Farooq, in fact, sought to dispel the impression (inconvenient for NC in Kashmir’s context) being created by Mehbooba Mufti in many public discourses by hailing Sheikh Abdullah for Kashmir’s accession with India. He rightly said that “it was Maharaja Hari Singh and not his father, who had acceded to India”. Probably, he doesn’t want his party NC to be seen to be associated with the accession at this stage even though NC has been reaping its fruits in maximum measure within the State as well as in the Centre.

“We were also promised plebiscite and NC is not against it; NC is not responsible for non-conduct of plebiscite,” Farooq said. “Pakistan is responsible for it as it did not withdraw its troops from Jammu & Kashmir and but for their misadventures, J&K would have been free.” He is partly correct. But what made him to say so after many decades of running the affairs of the State himself or by his illustrious son as chief executive and also part of Indian Government?

In August last, the unified Hurriyat’s trio- Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik- had asked all mainstream politicians including their legislators and ministers to resign and join the ongoing “struggle for azadi”. Is this an olive branch to the Hurriyat and hinted at unity for carrying the ongoing ‘movement’ for an ulterior motive or genuine change of heart? But he didn’t react to their demand for resigning seats in State Legislature by the NC. But will the NC vacate their seats in the legislature when the conditions considered to be favourable for their return to power in next election?

Political reactions from BJP and Congress were instant and on expected lines but that too were motivated. They alleged that Farooq Abdullah is frustrated for being out of power. Regrettable killing of less than one hundred youth in the last four months’ turmoil should also not be the “provocation” for this bizarre support to separatists as during his illustrious son’s rule in 2010 more than 115 youth had lost their lives during similar unfortunate disturbances. Then, what is it that made his “change of heart” and that dubbed him as pro – separatists?

Dr. Abdullah in a way, himself put the cat out of the bag by cautioning NC cadre in the same speech, against the influence of money that would be pumped in the forthcoming by-polls for Srinagar and Anantnag Lok Sabha seats. So, he is decidedly eying for both Lok Sabha seats of Srinagar and Anantnag. Intriguingly, a leader who is assuring the united Hurriyat of NC’s support for their movement for Azadi is at the same time preparing for Lok Sabha by-poll and re- enter the highest democratic institution of India where he and his worthy son had spent many years in the past. How this contradiction explains his sincerity for allegiance to separatists’ cause? One interesting comment this development evoked from a Kashmiri intellectual on social media–“Kashmir can walk in two opposite directions at the same time”.

Interestingly, a viral post on social media even named him (& his otherwise the premier mainstream party NC) APHC (F). Now, there could be APHC (G), APHC (M) & APHC ( F) but the majority don’t subscribe to this possibility, even remotely. Old timers don’t give much credence to Farooq political innuendo, saying that Kashmir leadership is well known for their double and triple talk, one aggressive anti-Delhi discourse in Kashmir, much soothing version in Jammu and conciliatory tone in Delhi. In Srinagar, Farooq offered allegiance to separatists, in Jammu, he boldly clarified his statement by seeking dialogue with separatists as per agenda of governance of PDP-BJP alliance Govt. and also challenged those who called him anti- national (indirectly reposing faith in India) and at Delhi, on a TV debate made a strong case for resuming dialogue with Pakistan to “douse the fire in Kashmir”. The public anger seems to have been “managed” by his usual well-crafted articulation and impressive narratives even though it was different at different places.

State’s one of the most respected and seasoned journalists, Mohammad Sayeed Malik posted a mind boggling observation on topsy-turvy happenings on political landscape of Kashmir on social media after Farooq’s surprised statement. “ Here, we have Farooq Abdullah pledging to co-own the Hurriyat’s separatist platform, Mehbooba going out of her way to eulogies Sheikh Abdullah and hail his political wisdom and, to cap it all, the Hurriyat trio itself turning into a Tawaza platform, literally emulating the Govt, of India’s ‘ateethi deva bhav’ slogan and throwing an open invitation to tourists and yatris to visit the valley, reeling under the crippling economic impact of Hurriyat sponsored civil unrest all through the summer months.” He was referring to the historically unpredictable changing situation in Kashmir that could take the job of any journalist for contradicting reportage.

Sayeed Malik’s analysis of Kashmir’s kaleidoscope evoked much larger response on social media than Dr. Farooq’s original statement in the media. And the comments, many of them from Kashmir’s intellectuals and social activists, are quite revealing. Few of these are reproduced here: not difficult to decode the name of the game- father son are playing power politics; Kashmir politics ka baba adam hi nirala hai; a collection of “ girgit( chameleon) leaders” in present day Kashmir; after making such statements they will say, “ quoted out of context”. Changing colours like chameleon is also an art in which Kashmir politicians have mastered themselves.

Dr. Farooq’s “change of heart,” may be for a day, is nothing unusual in Kashmir’s political landscape. The people tend to ignore this conduct of their leaders and even the separatists have not been enthused by his offer. While the issue is reduced to a storm in a cup the larger issue remains. Why does Kashmir politics, albeit Indian politics go so low that politicians feel safe in doublespeak or multiplespeak and then get away with it. Obviously, they think the voters are gullible and can be hoodwinked for small electoral gains in the power politics game. Among many other policies that India needs to make to stem the rot, at least, one should be a national policy against doublespeak by political leaders.

(The writer is former Secretary Information, health, transport, CAPD departments and a member of Public Service Commission, feedback: [email protected])

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