Thursday, November 26, 2020
 
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Insulting Tiranga, Chinese help won’t restore Article 370
Straight Talk




K B Jandial

Last fortnight witnessed objectionable comments of two prominent Kashmiri leaders, Mehbooba Mufti & Dr. Farooq Abdullah which stirred huge controversy and slugfest leading to demand for their arrest by local BJP leaders. While Mehbooba again ‘insulted’ the Tricolor by refusing to ‘own’ it untill restoration of state flag, Dr. Abdullah craved for China’s support to restore Article 370. These are not just off-the-cuff comments but well thought provocative ones. These are either their sheer frustration or part of calculated move to politically rehabilitate them, individually as well as collectively, after the people of Kashmir appeared to have turned their back to these former rulers who are better known for their self-goals, communal politics, nepotism, anti-people and political opportunism for power.

Mehbooba’s anti-Tiranga comments not only created uproar across India but also within PDP ranks that manifested in immediate resignation of three senior party leaders including two founder members. Similar unrest was also seen in NC ranks especially in Jammu for neglecting them while formulating all Kashmir-centric Gupkar Declaration and Chinese remarks but Dr. Farooq managed to assuage their outraged feelings and made suitable amends by saying that his fight is against BJP & not India; forgetting that abrogation of Article 370 is the act of Parliament that represents the nation. Both PDP & NC have faced many desertions of their senior leaders who have formed APNI party, their senior leaders are not sure of their public support and that perhaps explains their failure to organise even one public protest despite having being released seven months ago. Coming on a common platform was essential for their political survival and they formed People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) to showcase their unity for restoration of Article 370 which doesn’t seem to be achievable.

Anti-India utterances are not new to Kashmiri politicians when out of power with exception of Bakshi Ghulam Mohd. Post article 370 there was political vacuum in Kashmir including the separatists’ space. Pushed to the wall, NC & PDP leaders are perhaps itching to fill this space to embarrass India at international level to the advantage of Pakistan & China. In a way, their new avatar, PAGD, could be called a new ‘Hurriyat’ Conference that wearing the cloak of mainstream politics, would try to paint Kashmir as “disputed territory”. An indication comes from Mehbooba’s statement that her agenda is not restricted to restoration of Article 370 alone but also Kashmir’s “final resolution” for which they may seek tripartite dialogue, as China is their new ’saviour’.

Well, Mehbooba Mufti took about 15 months to navigate from Kashmir mein triange ko kyoi kandha dene wala nehi hoga if Article 370 abrogated to no to hoisting Tricolour if special status is not restored. Fifteen months’ detention has hardened her against her previous ally BJP which was reflected in her indecent outbursts against PM. This could be a political fight which should not be dubbed as anti-national utterances but when she crosses the Lakshman Rekha she outrages the feelings of the Indian nation. May be legally, she didn’t say anything directly against the national flag that can attract legal action but her intention to belittle the Tricolor is clear. Groups of outraged youths are regularly hoisting Tricolor outside PDP Jammu office, housed in Govt accommodation in Gandhinagar posh locality, to give a strong message that Jammu would not tolerate this insult to Tricolor. She can expect more such retort in Jammu in coming days besides desertion from the party.

Today, the Tricolor has become ‘untouchable’ for Mehbooba which she and her father, Mufti Sayeed had been unfurling proudly on every Independence Day as CM. Strangely, for these senior Kashmiri politicians, respect for National Flag & other symbols including the Constitution & Accession has always been conditional. Once cornered, they don’t hesitate to hold these in contempt. Their reverence and enthusiasm for the Tricolor & other symbols is only when in power and when out of power, these become target of their anger and invectives for bargaining with the Central Govts. That can put a question mark on their loyalty and genuine Indian. Even in the past both parties had lambasted ‘Hinditva’ BJP but didn’t shy to ‘adopt’ them for coming to power with different pretensions. When the Autonomy Resolution was rejected by Vajpayee Govt on 4th July 2000, his favourite MoS Omar preferred to continue on rejection of his resignation & NC meekly accepted its rejection. Their duplicity is their political forte.

Before her arrest, Mehbooba’s contemptuous ‘prediction’ of “tirange ko koi kandda deney wala nehi miley ga” in the event of abrogation of Article 370, proved wrong by the events that followed 5th August. Post 5th August 2019, Tiranga continued to flutter high majestically in Kashmir as before. Moreover, Tiranga does need kandda (it never dies) but strong hands to hold it and there crores of such hands available.

Mehbooba has made an issue of erstwhile State Flag. Her newly found ‘emotional attachment’ with it is politically motivated. How could she expect Kashmiris to forget that it was her father’s Govt which turned down Er Rashid’s forceful demand for declaring 7th June as State Flag Day and holiday as mark of respect for the Flag? It was on this day in 1952, the State Constituent Assembly had adopted the State Flag after 1952 Delhi Agreement. Had she, her father and Abdullahs ever unfurled the State Flag ceremonially? Residents of J&K including Kashmiri brethren never had any emotional attachment with it but to induct a new element of exploitation, now PAGD leadership has made it alliance’s symbol.

Her refusal to ‘hold’ Tricolor only reflects her lack of its history, respect and emotions that 130 crore Indians attach with it. It is the pride of India. Lakhs of Indians are ever ready to lay down their lives for it. The bodies of the bravehearts, who lay down their lives in safeguarding the country’s frontiers, integrity, and protecting important leaders from militants’ attacks including Mehbooba, Abdullahs and their likes, are sent home across the country wrapped in this very Tricolor as mark of honour for the family. How can she forget that body of her father and also of Sheikh Sahib too was wrapped in Tricolor as a mark of national honour? How regrettable it is that Mufti sahib’s daughter is now so scornful of the same flag that she is refusing to hold it. As per army traditions, the national flag wrapped on the martyr is presented to the family as relic of honour. Has any such honour been associated with the State Flag or evoked similar public respect and emotions, even of Kashmiris?

Mehbooba’s commitment that “sacrifices of thousands of people would not go waste” too is contrary to her actions as CM. She knows well that those killed in last 30 years of militancy died for secession of Kashmir from India and not for opening ‘roads’ with Pakistan & China. A number of them were killed during the rule of Mufti Sayeed and Mehbooba or for that matter Abdullahs also. In this context, how can now she reconciles with her ‘brave and matter-of-fact’ retort at a presser “ kya yeh bache army camps mein toffeeyan leney jatey hai?” when asked about killing of youth stoning security camps. Out of power, these youths killed under her Rule too have become ‘martyrs’ for the “cause” which she promised not to go waste. Strange are the ways of the politics of Kashmiri leadership!

By calling scrapping of J&K temporary constitutional provision as “dacoity”, she has insulted the Parliament of India, of which she herself had remained its member. It was not act of PM Modi but passed by two third majority of both houses of the Parliament. Does she want to say that “dacoity” is made by the sovereign Parliament of India? She should know that BJP had got huge mandate on abrogation of Article 370, a long pending agenda even before the death of Shyama Prasad Mookerjee in Kashmir jail in mysterious circumstances, and when BJP got the majority, why shouldn’t the party fulfill it?. She should have known that the Parliament represents the collective will of the nation and it acted constitutionally which cannot be called “dacoity””. It may amount to breach of privilege of Parliament. Yes, its constitutional vires shall be determined by the Apex court and cannot be decided by Mehbooba or Dr. Abdullah.

On Dr. Farooq Abdullah comments on help of China in restoring Article 370, the NC and Omar categorically denied the charge but he avoided personal denial. Obviously, Dr. Abdullah had said somewhat similar to India Today what Omar Abdullah dismissed it as “BJP spokesperson’s formulation”. There was a lot of confusion on the veracity of Dr. Farooq’s comments coming close to airing views of a section of Kashmiris on “Chinese rule” in Kashmir during his interview with Karan Thapar. But neither NC nor Omar told the people what Dr. Farooq had actually said. Equally intriguing was that even Rajdeep Sardeasi preferred not to confront Omar with the recorded comment of Farooq telecast by the same channel a few days earlier.

According to India Today, Dr. Abdullah had said that "Whatever they (Chinese) are doing at LAC in Ladakh all because of the abrogation of Article 370, which they never accepted. I am hopeful that with their support, Article 370 will be restored in J&K." Now, how it is different from what was attributed to him and criticised. This is not BJP’s formulation as claimed by Omar.

Comments of both these leaders are not going to help them or their parties in any big way in Kashmir as the people are no longer willing to be hoodwinked by their emotive anti-India periodical outbursts. People are, by and large, indifferent to them in Kashmir while Jammu is already up in arm against them. It is to be seen how Jammu reacts when Gupkaris land at Jammu for belated dialogue on their Kashmir centric agenda.



(Author is a retired IAS officer) feedback: [email protected]





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