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If India can’t trust Farooq Abdullah, who will it ever trust?, ask Baramulla villagers

By Anand K Sahay*
In an extraordinary display of deployment -- amidst nationalistic fervour -- not seen since the militancy of the early 1990s, the country’s armed forces are spread across the towns and villages of the Kashmir valley, guns at the ready. Men of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, doing duty alongside them in urban areas, no longer carry a weapon.

Apparently, since August 5 this year- the date which has gone into history for stripping J&K of its statehood and its unique status- the police is only issued the innocuous staff or small ‘danda’.
Kashmir Police has been “disarmed”, the locals believe.
On a drive from Baramulla in the Valley’s north to Shopian in the south, past the capital Srinagar, I made it a point to observe carefully, just to be sure. There wasn’t a single policeman with a gun anywhere on the 120-kilometre drive.
Before 1989-90, when militancy burst out in Kashmir, the police force in the state was sloppy, and poorly equipped and trained. But in only a few years, it became a crack anti-insurgency unit, often leading the way in the fight against terrorism.
If people here are to be believed, a shadow has now been cast on the loyalty of the J&K Police when on duty in the Valley, although they have given no cause for doubt.
I ask an old friend, who was a victim of militant violence in the early 1990s, how he would compare the pervasive presence of the security forces then and now. He says spontaneously, “The forces did some terrible things back then too, but the widely shared feeling was that they were around to deal with Pakistan-encouraged militancy. Today, the sense is they are here to watch us.”
These stinging words are a testimony to the dichotomous “national"-“anti-national” perception that finds preference in policy quarters in Delhi.
Military fixation, and throwing out the old, is the new politics for Kashmir that the Centre is busy crafting
Military fixation, and throwing out the old, is the new politics for Kashmir that the Centre is busy crafting. This is all too evident. Hence, the incarceration for an indefinite period of established mainstream politicians, notably Farooq and Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti -- all former Chief Ministers of J&K. They are not wanted any more by Delhi, which is on the lookout for new politicians and a new politics.
Security merges seamlessly with politics in Kashmir. “If India can’t trust even Farooq Abdullah, who will it ever trust?” I am asked everywhere – by villagers in Baramulla; by an articulate MLA (a former MLA, really, since the Assembly was ruthlessly dissolved before time last year) who is under house-arrest but is not in the glare of the state and can beat the system and receive an occasional visitor; by high and low alike in Srinagar; and everywhere in Shopian, where one treads carefully on account of potential militant trouble.
In the eyes of Kashmir, the senior Abdullah is the most “committed” votary of India imaginable, and he too has been cast aside along with the leaders of the separatist Hurriyat Conference. No crime, but the same punishment.
Whenever the Abdullahs and other “mainstream” leaders might be released, with the substance of Article 370 extinguished, Kashmir’s India-centric political actors would be without an agenda.
(To be concluded)
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*Senior Delhi-based journalist, who was recently in Srinagar, Baramulla and Shopian. This is the fourth article in a series on ground realities in Kashmir following the August 5 crackdown. A version of this article has appeared in the “Asian Age”

Comments

Navien Marwah said…
I knew him in 60s in London when I was a student & he had just finished. We met almost every evening at the ISH (international Students Hostel), which was a must for cash strapped students like me as we got a drink and a meal at almost cost. Of course we sometimes paid for it by doing bar tending duty. FA & I tend the bar together at few rims, but I never saw this man being friends with any Indians - all his friends were Pakis. Some other friends of mine (I can't mention their names as they are too high up in fiancé world in Bombay) told me that he never had any Hindu friends. This did not bother us those days, but I realized that they were right.
Khursheed Latif said…
Which Politician can one trust? see what happened in Haryana & what is going on in Maharashtra. As for as Farooq Abdullah is concerned I don't know him at all , I just shared what one journalist wrote about the villagers reaction though my logic is that a seasoned politician like him cannot go against India & would have this much sense that a separate Kashmir can never happen & would have no chance of survival.

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