The crisis in the Kashmir valley is far too serious than to be abused by the political leaders from there for their own partisan gains. Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s daughter and leader of the People’s Democratic Party, Mehbooba Mufti will do this country and the people of Jammu and Kashmir a great service if she realizes this.
The provocation to say this now is the ugly and scandalous behaviour by her party’s MLA, Muzaffar Beigh in the State assembly on Tuesday is indeed inexplicable. Beigh is guilty of reducing the assembly floor and his privilege as MLA to slander against Chief Minister Omar Farooq. It is important that the political establishment and the civil society convey to Beigh’s boss, Mehbooba Mufti that such things are not done.
This is not to say that Omar Faroq is a saint and that Kashmir will return to its serene state with him as Chief Minister. The fact is that the present state of affairs in the valley is the fallout of his father Farooq Abdullah’s opportunistic acts in order to remain in power. That Farooq Abdullah, in 1987, entered into an alliance with Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress and that the combine won the assembly elections only by way of unabashed rigging at the time of polling and the counting of votes is a fact that anyone with even a fleeting knowledge of the Kashmir affairs will know.
But then, a brief recall of the saga of 1987 is appropriate now. The assembly elections, held that year, witnessed a direct contest between the National Conference-Congress(I) alliance on the one side and the Muslim United Front (MUF) on the other. The MUF was a combine consisting of a number of young men who aspired for genuine democracy in the valley and autonomy as guaranteed by the Constitution. The poll process was rigged. And although the vote-share difference between the two sides was just a fraction of a percentage point, the NC-Congress(I) swept the polls. Within months of that, when the people in the valley saw their mandate being distorted by way of force, the youth who led the MUF turned into militants and began demanding beyond autonomy.
The next moment of reckoning in this trajectory was in 1989-90; and in some way, linked to the 1987 realignment of forces in Kashmir. The Congress(I)’s alliance with Farooq Abdullah’s NC left Mufti Mohamed Sayeed, an old Congressman fuming. He saw in that an end to his dream of becoming Chief Minister of J&K. He joined V.P.Singh’s Janata Dal; and became the Union Home Minister on December 5, 1989.
On January 19, 1990, Jagmohan was posted as J&K Governor. This was Home Minister Mufti’s game, played through Prime Minister V.P.Singh, to irritate J&K Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah. The script was ready and Abdullah resigned as Chief Minister, protesting against the imposition of Jagmohan as Governor. Well. Jagmohan was Governor of J&K between April 26, 1984 and July 11, 1989. During that stint, he had played the executor in ensuring Farooq’s dismissal and posting G.M.Shah as Chief Minister; this he did in July 1984 at Indira Gandhi’s behest. Mufti now sent him to provoke Farooq and he succeeded in that game. The tragedy was that things did not end there.
Jagmohan presided over an administration and a police force that fired at the Kashmiri people in many places and including at those who participated in the funeral procession (on May 21, 1990) of the Mirwaiz Maulavi Farooq in Srinagar. Fifty people were killed that day. And Prime Minister V.P.Singh agreed to recall Jagmohan after that. All the while, the democratic edifice was crumbling and Kashmir was sliding into the abyss. The army was posted everywhere and every young man in the valley was suspected to be a terrorist. This continues even today.
The shameful story of Shopian, where two young women were found to have been killed and the facts that have tumbled out now – that they were raped and murdered – is indeed one of the many that Omar Farooq has to answer for. His tenure as Chief Minister has not been peaceful. But then, Mehbooba Mufti must have shown some sense of responsibility. The fact is that when the Srinagar sex scandal was unraveled in 2006, her own party was sharing power in Srinagar with the Congress(I). And her party MLAs were ministers in the cabinet.
And more important than these, is the fact, that one of the PDP’s ministers, G.A.Mir along with an independent MLA and minister in the coalition cabinet, Raman Matoo were arrested for having been seen to have a role in the sex scandal. The State police, under the Congress-PDP coalition was investigating the case before it was handed over to the CBI. These are facts that are irrefutable. And it is sad that Mehbooba, like her father, is willing to stoop down to any level to wrest office. The losers are, as usual, the people of Kashmir; their choice being restricted between the PDP and the National Conference (and the Congress willing to partner with either of them).
An alternative political platform could have emerged if the 1987 elections were not rigged. The MUF could have matured into a genuine regional force. But then, the Congress (of which Mufti was then a part) and the National Conference killed the MUF and pushed its ranks into other ways.