Thirty-five years after the Indira-Abdullah Accord, Kashmir continues to bleed. Nothing has changed, except for a flyover from the secretariat entrance to the Budshah Bridge.
In 1975, the political leadership ended its wanderings in the `political wilderness.’ Infused with new life by the Accord, the leadership promised to strive for izzat aur aabru ka maqaam (a place of honour and dignity) for Kashmiris. The Sher-e-Kashmir had made his deputy, Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg, fight for the right of self-determination for 22 years.
Although the Sheikh had stayed away from the Plebiscite Front, he used to issue statements from time to time to seek the enforcement of this right. The gullible Kashmiris supported him. They laid down their lives for it, but as soon as he assumed power, this time as the Chief Minister of the state, he forgot self-determination and framed the Public Safety Act (PSA) to `tame’ all those who continued to fight for self-determination.

But the Indira-Abdullah Accord failed to deliver. Within just 12 years, Kashmiris were up in arms against India, seeking their inalienable right to self-determination, a demand abandoned by the Sher-e-Kashmir himself.

The Lion of Kashmir’s cub, Dr Farooq Abdullah, believed in the totality of the state’s accession, his flirtation with the JKLF notwithstanding. Farooq never chanted the self-determination slogan to fool Kashmiris. On the contrary, he repeatedly urged New Delhi to take military action against Pakistan for abetting, instigating and encouraging terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. But then came a time when the National Conference had to sit in the opposition. Some years ago, at a book release function in Jammu, Farooq expressed his anger over `atrocities inflicted by the army on innocent Kashmiris.’ He said: “We have been forced to rethink over accession.” But soon after the National Conference assumed power in 2008, accession became total and Kashmir an integral part of India once again. Angered by the agitation going on in the Valley then, Farooq told the media in Delhi: “kashmir ko goli maro (Let Kashmir go to hell).”

The third-generation Abdullah has broken all records. He has ventured into an area where even his grandfather feared to tread. Addressing the Assembly last October, he said that Kashmir was an international dispute. He rejected the totality of the state’s accession. “The accession is temporary and conditional.” His statement confused the gullible Kashmiris yet again. What had they achieved during the past 35 years?

Last year, Omar raised the AFSPA revocation issue yet again. Earlier he had said that the law would remain in force until needed. What had prompted him to raise the matter yet again? The issue of mass graves and the alleged custodial death of a National Conference worker had pushed Omar to the wall. To divert the attention of the people, he sprang the AFSPA surprise. This is exactly what he repeated in October last year. When accused of governance and trust deficit by New Delhi, he challenged the totality of the accession. He even said that Jammu and Kashmir was a disputed territory. The trick worked, and Omar survived. But this time, people know that Omar has the powers to revoke the AFSPA. If he is sincere in his campaign, he should exercise his powers.

It seems that the National Conference has run out of issues. Addressing a function after launching the Wular Conservation Project last week, Omar asserted that people had the right to relish peace benefits. And peace, according to the NC president, would return after opening liquor shops and cinema halls in Kashmir.

Taking the PDP to task without naming it, Omar Abdullah said that the party was politicking on the issue of AFSPA, and speaking three different languages in Srinagar, Jammu and New Delhi. “When in the Valley, the party favours its revocation. When in Jammu, it keeps mum. And in New Delhi, it says that the AFSPA should be removed only after the Army permits to do so,” he said, adding that this political adventurism and double-speak was only aimed at vested interests to deceive people at all the three places.

Curiously, Omar also has issued different statements at different times. He has said that New Delhi was creating hurdles in its (the AFSPA’s) revocation. Then, he said that the CrPC could be amended to protect the interests of the army. “I’d lift it (AFSPA) tomorrow if I was reasonably confident it won’t be used to spread lies, rumours and fear as news,” he tweeted. This was the first time that Omar had admitted that he had the power to lift the law.

The wounded, bruised and mauled Kashmir stays where it was three decades ago. Yes, huge buildings have been erected, roads have been recently macadamized and bridges are being constructed, but uncertainty prevails in the onetime abode of saints.

The commoner has a question for the Abdullahs: When will the quest for izzat aur aabru ka maqaam end ?

feedback: din.zahir@gmail.com
Courtesy: Tue, 05 November 2013 (Kashmir Reader)

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