Interlocutors’ lollipops | Can Kashmiris be pacified by these sops?

    By: Hassan Zainagairi

As and when Kashmir boils up and begins to invite global concern, the safest and time-tested prescription they lay their hands on is instituting of committees and setting up of interlocution groups. It is not sincerity-driven realization of hard ground realities that asks to sit in to involve stake holders for purposeful dialogue. The bitter experience, buttressed by countless such past insipid and insidious political exercises, reveals the malafide intention: To mellow down the anger, fuse the sentiments in cold storage, buy time and hemorrhage the resistance off its verve and vitality. From ‘sky is the limit’ the minds are unlocked to reach to the ‘suffering’ people. Admissions that Kashmir is ‘an issue of broken’ promises and demands a ‘unique solution’ the good-will is tweeted. Any lacuna in misunderstanding is plugged in sending the parliamentary delegations. With so much ‘confidence building’ the speedboat of interlocution is shown the green-signal and do the directed. That has been going on for the last six decades. Some of our commentators and leaders have condemned the report of Delhi appointed Padgoankar-headed three-member interlocution group which Home Ministry made public on May 24 as much ado about nothing, a useless enterprise as it skipped the core political issue and fell short of expectations. Worth a trash can. But a deep insight of the report and the recommendations made point to something more malicious and insulting. The group has in many ways registered its ‘unique’ character suggesting something unprecedented. The ‘New Compact’ the group far from emphasizing on the unifying bond to preserve the indivisibility of the state and its people, gives teeth to the trifurcation plan. It tries to redefine the people of the state and erodes its compact oneness. To drown the dominant discourse which prevails and has prevailed far and wide in Kashmir, the group has tried to divide the state on ethnic, religious and communal lines and foster disruptive tendencies and pit people against each other. Suggesting creation of three regional Councils with equal constitutional status, one each for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh lays bare where the hearts of the interlocutors are placed at and the goal they want the state lead to. They want to incapacitate the valley of its numerical strength. In a state where devolution of power has gone down to the district and Panchayat level, the interlocutors’ favoring creation of regional councils is incompatible. It reveals the sinister design. A subtle attempt has been made to rob the state off its individual character and whittle it down to position of other states. Knowing fully well the significance of the word ‘temporary’ and the historical perspective it was used while framing the constitutional relationship of the state with union of India, the Team Padgoankar wanted to delete the word ‘temporary’ from the heading of Article 370 and from the title of part XXI of the Constitution of India and suggested replacing it with the word ‘special’ as it has been used for the rest of states under Article 371. On the face of it looks innocuously “special”, but with that stone they aim to fetch two objectives. First it helps them project Kashmir as just other state and second, more importantly, deny Kashmiri resistance the reference point in support of its ‘temporary’-nature-of-accession argument. The 176-page report recommends setting up a Constitutional Committee to review all Central Acts and Articles of the Constitution of the India, extended to the state after the signing of the 1952 agreement. But the eminent journalist Padgoan, academic Radha Kumar and former information commissioner M M Ansari team of interlocutors foxed this very recommendation with the strong caveat saying, while taking the review ‘the clock cannot be sent back’. So what they wanted to offer from the right hand, the left hand they kept ready to snatch. Perhaps George Orwell’s classic ‘1984’ has achieved perfection in having such living characters to celebrate the “Newspeak”. As if this was not enough, they meant that Kashmiris are a people who can be cajoled with lollipops and made to frolic with fanciful toys. Thus they say while the ‘Nomenclature of the state Governor and Chief Minister in English will remain same’, but to benefit alienated people of Kashmir with the comforts of Indian democracy, ‘equivalent nomenclature in Urdu (of these offices) should be considered and to be used solely in communication’. My goodness, was the summer uprising 2010 and 2008 for the demand of such ridiculous things. That interlocutors will sink to such an abyss of intellectual bankruptcy has jolted we Kashmiris, not the institution of interlocution exercise in itself, the seeds of which has strands of deceit all foretold.
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