Skip to main content

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)
---
*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.

TRENDING

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Evolution of Sardar Patel's understanding of those 'involved' in Gandhi's assassination

By Shamsul Islam*  As the world mourns the 73rd anniversary of MK Gandhi's assassination by Hindutva terrorists on January 30, 1948, RSS, the most prominent flag-bearer of Hindutva politics, whose cadres rule India today, is found reacting angrily to the reality – that the criminals who assassinated Gandhiji were not only part of the ideological world-view of Hindu Mahasabha (led by VD Savarkar) and RSS brand of Hindu nationalism but were also connected with these. 

No Election Commission safeguard against electromagnetic hacking of EVM: Study

Counterview Desk  Releasing a new study simultaneously in Chennai and Kolkata in view of the forthcoming elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE) – a civil society initiative – has regretted “lack of integrity of EVM voting”, pointing out, the Election Commission of India (ECI) does not appear to safeguard against the possibilities of ‘side-channel attacks’, i.e, hacking electronic devices through electromagnetic and other methods.

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

'Viability' of agricultural cooperatives vs govt proposed pro-corporate economic model

Dr Gian Singh* The farmer struggle started from Punjab against the promulgation of three agricultural ordinances by the Union government in June 2020 and the enactment of three bills by Parliament in September 2020 to replace these ordinances is unique in many respects. There is no other example of such a peaceful and democratic farmer struggle.

Whither right to food? Social security scheme allocation for woman, child 'reduced'

Counterview Desk Pointing out that women and children have been ignored in the Union Budget 2021-22, the advocacy group Right to Food Campaign (RtFC) has said that the Government of India should have taken into account the fact that even after the lockdown was lifted, distress among marginalized communities continues, with people having lower incomes and reduced food consumption.