Let’s talk about Kashmir
Tavleen Singh Posted online: Sun Oct 16 2011, 01:15 hrs
Prashant Bhushan got thrashed by thugs last week. Thugs will be thugs, alas, which is a bore. It would have been better if Bhushan and his Leftist fellow travellers were challenged verbally on their preposterous position on Kashmir. How dare they ask for a plebiscite? Do they not see that regular elections have nullified the need for one? Are they suggesting that all the elections held since 1947 were fraudulent?
Only those who have no idea of Kashmir’s history will say that none of them were. There were many fraudulent elections and this is something that India needs to be eternally ashamed of because it never helped India’s case. But, far too many well-meaning Indians, like Bhushan and his friend the ex-novelist, remain stuck in a time warp and nobody drags them out of it for reasons of political correctness. This lethal disease has become worse since Inquilab-e-Anna because to say anything against a member of Anna Hazare’s exalted team these days invokes charges of being corrupt.
It was only after the thugs did their damage that I first heard what had annoyed them enough to start beating up Bhushan and his pals. After interminable visuals of them being roughed up on all the news channels, I still did not understand what provoked the violence. Finally, on one channel, I spotted a tiny clip of what Bhushan said in Srinagar. I do not know when he said what he did but admit that what he said got on my last nerve. What is his reason for wanting a plebiscite? Now at the end of the most peaceful summer Kashmir has seen in years? Have Bhushan and others of his ilk become accidental victims of a conspiracy to restart the violence? It is beginning to seem that way to me and, in my opinion, that is not just anti-national but evil.
As someone who has covered the Kashmir problem since the days when it was neither fashionable nor safe, I began to detect signs of a conspiracy to make trouble when Mehbooba Mufti started charging Omar Abdullah with murder. I witnessed first hand her father’s role in the creation of the current phase of the Kashmir problem (quite different to the historical problem), so I am continually suspicious of Mehbooba’s political ideas and motives. She may not remember, but I remember with painful clarity, that it was her beloved Daddy who advised Indira Gandhi to topple Farooq Abdullah’s government in 1984.
Mufti Sayeed was at the head of the group that said the 1983 election was rigged when it should have been clear to anyone, except the most blinkered, that the National Conference did not need to rig an election that came just months after Sheikh Abdullah’s death. His son would have won without even needing to campaign but Mrs Gandhi was misled by people who included Mufti Sayeed. The toppling of Farooq’s government was the beginning of the Kashmir problem as we know it today. In my view, the historical problem died with the Indira-Sheikh accord in 1974.
It is now nearly twenty years since the current problem began. And, this is almost the first peaceful summer the Kashmir Valley has seen since then. This seems to infuriate people like Mehbooba. So she took to the streets to protest against the alleged murder of a National Conference worker in the Chief Minister’s back garden. If Omar Abdullah wanted to murder one of his party workers, would he be foolish enough to do it in his own garden?
Mehbooba and her gang of noisy protesters failed to bring the stone-pelters back into the streets of Srinagar but she succeeded in attracting media attention. Self-appointed experts sped off to the Valley and returned to write long, silly pieces based on unsubstantiated charges. And, as usual, the news channels went nuts. The Chief Minister was charged, tried and found guilty on national television with some anchors using tactics that would have put inquisitors in medieval inquisitions to shame. They shamed me as a journalist because when journalists turn interviews into inquisitions they cross a very, very dangerous line.
To return to the plebiscite question. For those Indians who believe that a plebiscite is still the solution to the larger Kashmir problem, may I suggest that they summon up the courage to go further. Let them say loudly and clearly that every election in Jammu & Kashmir has been rigged and let them prove this because it will prove that Indian democracy is a sham. For my part, I am sick to death of educated, intelligent, supposedly informed Indians saying things about the Kashmir situation that are dangerously untrue. If there is ever to be a lasting solution to our most difficult political problem, it will come after many seasons of peace. To disrupt the first such season harms Kashmir and it shames India.
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