Mehbooba Cozies Up to the Abdullahs Forgetting Political Rivalry for Article 35(A)

First it was former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir  and former MP Farooq Abdullah calling the stone pelters freedom fighters, then his son Omar Abdullah, the outgoing CM of J & K before Mehbooba Mufti took over, called the Bharatiya citizens other than those living in Kashmir as outsiders in reference to Article 35 A of the Constitution; now Mehbooba Mufti, the current CM of J & K, when faced with the prospect of abrogation of Article 35 A, virtually put the whole country on notice by saying that there would be no one to hold the Bharatiya tricolour in Kashmir if Article 35 A is tinkered with.

These three statements by three different Chief Ministers of Jammu & Kashmir, two former and one current, who have been at the helm in the valley for decades, sums up the mindset of these eminent politicians and their perspective about Bharat and its people. How high or low they hold Bharat in their eyes is directly related to the amount of doles, perks and packages they receive from the Centre and not to any patriotic fervour or feelings they have for the country.

The deep chasm in Kashmir society where a small minority have thrived at the expense of the majority of the population reflects on the various governments which have ruled in Jammu & Kashmir. Otherwise, how do you explain the luxurious and lavish lifestyles of Kashmiri politicians and the Hurriyat leaders and their frequent foreign junkets while the aam Kashmiri is shown a mirage called ‘azadi’ and left to languish?

Mehbooba’s joining the chorus for Article 35A was expected, as was her obvious grimace against the NIA raids on the Hurriyat. PDP and the Hurriyat have had cordial relations since the latter’s formation, and as a reaffirmation of those ties former CM and father of the current CM, the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on the occasion of his swearing- in ceremony thanked Hurriyat for ‘allowing’ the peaceful conduct of elections in J&K.

It goes to the credit of the Modi Government that they have not allowed the PDP and the coalition to come in between the much needed crackdown on the nefarious and anti-national activities of the Hurriyat.

The constitutional validity of article 35A – giving special powers to the state legislature of J&K to decide who is a permanent resident of J&K – is being heard by the Supreme Court and need not be debated here, but Article 14 of the Constitution which talks about equality before the law for all citizens needs to be mentioned.

Farooq Abdullah has been CM of the state and a minister in the union cabinet, taking oath and swearing by the Bharatiya constitution. As long as he was in power he had no issues with the centre of which he was a part and enjoyed all the privileges bestowed on to him by the Bharatiya state. He hobnobbed with the Congress and the BJP to remain in power in the state and the centre. But as soon as he lost his privileged status, he had no qualms about attacking the same Bharatiya state and calling the stone pelters – funded by Pakistan-backed Hurriyat, and throwing stones and hurling invectives at the Indian Army – as freedom fighters. Omar Abdullah has followed in his father’s footsteps and has criticized the very country and the Constitution whose privileges he and his party men have enjoyed for years.

Mehbooba’s unease with the centre is very obvious, and the NIA raids on the Hurriyat together with the debate on Article 35 (A) has only increased her tension leading her to make flippant and ludicrous statements about the national flag which is unbecoming of a Chief Minister of a State. Had the three leaders shown the same alacrity and sensitivity when the Kashmiri Pandits were killed in cold blood right under their nose and made to leave the valley, things would not have come to such a pass.

The Abdullahs and the Muftis remained mute spectators to the killings and the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir but were quick to raise the human rights angle when a stone-pelter was made a human shield by Major Gogoi to save the lives of innocent civilians from an irate mob.

The Kashmir valley which has been at the centre of unrest all these years constitutes approximately 15,000 sq kms of the total 1,33,000 sq kms of the entire state, excluding POK and Aksai Chin which are also a part of J & K but under foreign occupation. In fact Jammu & Kashmir is a misnomer for a State which also includes Ladakh but which hardly gets a mention because of the peaceful nature of Ladakhis.

Thus Mehbooba and her political rivals turned friends should stop issuing threats about the national flag – which is sacrosanct for the majority of the population of Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh, barring a few anti national elements who now stand thoroughly exposed – and utilize their energy and time for the welfare of the people who have elected them. But for that to happen political jingoism and anti Bharat rhetoric will have to take a back seat.


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About the Author

Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine