Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Anarchy in Kashmir!

Total anarchy in every sphere of life seems to have taken hold of entire Kashmir.

According to Cambridge dictionary, anarchy is “a situation in which there is no organisation and control especially in society, because there is no effective government”. The present state of affairs in Kashmir fully and completely fits the definition. One of the main reasons for generating a state of anarchy has been the political uncertainty. Kashmir has been facing political uncertainty right from the time of the partition of the sub-continent. For no fault of theirs Kashmiris got entangled in an ideological conflict between their neighbours. Instead of realising their cherished dream of freedom after centuries of subjugation, they faced the worst nightmares in their entire history. 
The ruling set ups were not in reality popular governments elected by the free will of the people but imposed on them by Delhi though various manipulations. However, in spite of this there was some accountability. There was responsive administration giving good governance in daily lives of the people. People in general did have a fear of the law. In fact, among these ruling set ups the best period regarding accountability, administration and good governance was the period of G M Sadiq from 1964 to 1971. However, he was in fact responsible in totally eroding the special status by bringing in most of the central laws and strongly put the popular movement down. 
The real down turn in governance and administration started after 1975 when Sheikh Abdullah compromised and headed the administration. Still a semblance of accountability continued till mid-eighties. The turmoil of nineties turned everything upside down. The first casualty was accountability in all spheres both on the government side and the public in general. The security forces got a license to kill and destroy with total absence of any accountability. The common people went ahead with a free for all in every respect. The last two decades were periods of total anarchy which has now come to finesse.
The recent ruling set ups did not bother about the people. They know that they are in the saddle not by free popular will but at the pleasure of Delhi. So to continue, they have to keep Delhi in good humour and forget the people completely. This is precisely what they have been doing and are doing right now. This has bred a sense of total free for all not only in the administration but among all the sections of the society in general.
Take for instance the regulation of traffic. People seem to have gone totally crazy. Either the traffic regulating personnel or all the drivers in general do not know the basic traffic rules or they do not bother about these at all. The later seems more plausible. Overtaking from wrong side; making full turn round in the middle of the road; overtaking in a two lane road and making four lines on one side; parking in wrong places and on both sides of a two lane road leaving hardly space for the moving traffic; not using indicators and jumping the signals if these work at all! The worst defaulters are the minibus drivers dropping and taking passengers in the middle of the road anywhere they like. There is nothing like a proper bus stop anywhere! The popular refrain is that they give a regular hafta to traffic regulators which goes from the lowest rung to the top. 
The maximum default is committed by two wheelers. Hardly anyone wears a helmet. A two wheeler which is supposed to take two people usually carries three or more and sometimes a whole family with minor kids is on a two wheeler. Can this happen anywhere in the world? Pedestrians have no place to go. Foot paths are either occupied by roadside vendors or the shopkeepers occupy these to display their goods. 
Another sphere of total anarchy is building permissions and constructions all over the city. The first defaulters are the regulators themselves. The Srinagar Development Authority has built its massive office in the Jhelum flood basin. If one observes the mad constructions going everywhere, the Authority seems to have become Srinagar Destruction Authority. Residential areas have been turned into commercial areas. After the recent floods people seem to have given a go by to all regulations. Constructions in violation of basic building rules are going on everywhere. Persons who had two floor houses are making four floor ones. Others are turning their erstwhile homes into massive commercial complexes. 
Ecology and environment are in mortal danger. Dal Lake, the supposed heart of the city of Srinagar is practically dead. We have eaten it away. Not only has the government failed to move out the inside lake dwellers numbering about fifty thousand people but there is no restriction on new filling to eat away whatever has been left of it. The houseboats have slowly moved so close to Boulevard that soon we may see these moored to the Boulevard itself. In spite of a ban on construction within 1 kilometer of the Lake bank imposed by the High Court, 35 hotels have come up in Shalimar area alone!
If one goes on recording the violations and aberrations indulged in by the people and the government itself it may have to be compiled as a book! Leaders from all walks of life seem to have become totally immune to these anarchist happenings. Where will this anarchy end? God alone knows!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Kashmir’s “Internet Curtain”!

Blocking internet, suspending mobile services, confining people to their homes remind one about the infamous “Iron Curtain of the former USSR!

Kashmir’s “Internet Curtain”!Kashmir’s popular movement for freedom started in 1931. In 1938, the movement which was started for getting the basic rights in an autocratic set up by the Muslims was converted into a nationalist movement. The manifesto for the movement which was written by staunch communists B.P.L and Fredda Bedi reflected many similarities of the Russian Revolution. The Red Flag, the Plough representing the peasantry replicating the Sickle and Hammer of the Russian workers, the naming of the popular spot for public meetings as the Red Square and so on.
In 1947 the National Conference headed by Sheikh Abdullah after taking over the reins of the Government introduced other appendages of the revolution including an intelligence service akin to the notorious KGB with its most dreaded head, Beria! Not only were people differing with the government view point imprisoned and tortured but were also banished from Kashmir across the ceasefire line.
After the dethroning and arrest of Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad perfected the clandestine apparatuses. His “Peace Brigade” and notorious strongmen “Gogaas” made the life of the people miserable. Everything was copied from the systems prevalent in the post revolution USSR. Indian Government used the local agencies to propagate their agenda. Gradually, most of the Central Agencies established their presence in the state and spread a wide network. They mostly recruited Kashmiri Pandits who were considered very loyal and dependable to the Indian narrative. However, their mass migration in 1990 rendered the agencies virtually blind. Gary Saxena, former RAW Chief as the Governor of the state rebuilt the network of informers including the groups of renegade militants. On the pattern of Russia Kashmir too had its “Red Guards” and the “White Guards”!
The turmoil of nineties completely changed the security scenario. The security forces were conferred extra-ordinary powers and immunity under the Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. These Acts virtually took away the basic right to life of a Kashmiri as guaranteed under the constitution. There have been alleged disappearances, fake encounters and even mass graves have been discovered. However, all these actions of the security forces cannot be adjudicated in any court of law. Usually, such powers are exercised by security forces during a war. Even during a war they are subject to Geneva Convention. But all the actions of the security forces in Kashmir allegedly cannot be covered under Geneva Convention as there is no formal declaration of war. The security forces claim to be fighting a proxy war!
The very subtle “Iron Curtain” set up by Delhi could hide all these extra-judicial actions. Nothing came out from behind the Kashmir’s “Iron Curtain”. However, the times changed. We had the information revolution and the internet became the information highway. Nothing could be hidden now. Information travels so fast that people in every part of the world know about all happenings as these take place. Even happenings can be watched live worldwide as these take place through various social networks. World is now becoming an open book readable everywhere instantaneously! The only alternative with totalitarian governments is to block the information highway, the Internet! Thus they put an “Internet Curtain” over Kashmir during the most revered festival of Eid. The usual explanation would be that the step has been taken to maintain the “Law and Order”! Which Law, which Order? After showing the red rag to the bull they are claiming to control its actions by throwing a net around it. If law and order is to be maintained, government can use the vast security apparatus they have at their disposal. They have been doing it often. Curtailing internet is no solution. Dr. Goebbels, George Orwell and Beria must be turning in their graves on seeing the finesse with which the Indian agencies operate in Kashmir!
Apart from general inconvenience and disconnection of people, the “Internet Curtain” must have caused appreciable economic loss also. It would be a good exercise to calculate the losses suffered due to prolonged closure of internet services. Incidentally, India claims to be the largest secular democracy of the world. Secularism has long been buried and now the democracy too is in its last throes. The Hindutva Trident is piercing its heart everywhere. Right to life has been taken away. Freedom of expression has been massacred. After doing all this India is lobbying strongly to get elected as a permanent member of the UN Security Council with veto powers. Can there be anything more hypocritical than that! If such a thing happens, Kashmir may prove to be India’s nemesis!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The “Polar” Bear Hug

The “Bear Hug” between PDP and BJP which resulted in a coalition government in J & K seems to have become one sided with the South Polar Bear from Delhi mauling the Northern one right, left and centre!

Before the installation of the present state government Narendra Modi and Mufti Sayed hugged each other and the photograph was splashed all over the media. The hug was supposed to signify warmth of the coalition partners who had worked out a detailed agenda for the alliance. Mufti Sayed had declared that this combination was a meeting of the North and the South Pole which made it a Polar Bear hug! Because of the freezing Poles the hug does not seem to have turned out to be so warm! It is rather freezing cold! In fact, the bear from the South appears to have actually turned out to be more deadly than a “Grizzly Bear” which is supposed to be very ferocious and dangerous. It can severely maul its opponent and even tear it up into shreds! This is precisely what has been happening in the recent past. The Kashmiri bear seems to be getting totally subdued and overpowered by the Delhi bear! The hug had been so strong that it has reportedly affected the health of the Kashmiri bear.
The first mauling occurred with the release of Masarat Alam. In fact, his release had been processed before the takeover by the present government. Mufti Sayed probably thought that this act would somewhat mollify the Kashmiris as they had felt cheated by this combination of the two Poles. Well, Delhi came down heavily and the person had to be rearrested. Then there was a chain of similar actions meant to fulfil the RSS agenda. Another very rough mauling was the arrest of Hurriyat leaders to prevent them from meeting the Pakistan’s National Security Advisor in New Delhi. The arrests were made without the knowledge of the Chief Minister. Subsequently, he intervened to get these released but they were still prevented from meeting the advisor.
Next, were a series of actions apparently from the general public but in fact allegedly motivated by various agencies? The PIL for scrapping the Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution which if conceded, would result in allowing the people from different parts of India to buy land and own property in J & K. This is not presently possible due to the State Subject law enacted by the Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927. Setting up of so called composite townships for Kashmiri Pandits; settlement of West Pakistan refugees as state subjects; issuing of state subject certificates through Schools in Jammu; encouraging Kashmiris to marry outside state to grant state subject to the spouses and their progeny; settlement of ex-servicemen in Sainik Colonies and a number of other measures which are alleged to be very sophisticated ways of effecting a demographic change. These can be construed as mauling not only by a Polar Bear but rather attacks of a ferocious Grizzly Bear!

The most recent mauling is the PIL in the State High Court filed by a Deputy Advocate General of the State Government from Jammu which resulted in High Court directions for strictly enforcing the ban on beef. Allegedly this has been done to divert attention from other mauling acts. It has very serious communal overtones and has generated lot of heat in the Valley. In fact, a number of political leaders belonging to various mainstream political parties have proposed to introduce a bill in the forthcoming session of the J & K Legislative Assembly to scrap the law banning the production and use of beef. The Speaker of the Assembly has categorically declared that he will not allow introduction of any such bill. In the meantime, VHP has threatened to put an economic blockade on Kashmir if a bill removing ban on beef is introduced. On this Kashmir side has threatened to restart the Muzaffarabad March like the earlier one. The ruling party from Kashmir is still silent about it. In fact, a local cartoonist had depicted their predicament beautifully in a recent cartoon. He had shown Mufti Sayed standing on the branch of a tree with a Trishul (Trident) in hand. He was cutting the very branch on which he was standing with the Trishul!  This is exactly what is happening to the Kashmiri component of the present ruling set up? They seem to be cutting their roots in the Valley.
Many intellectuals and prominent members of civil society in their recent writings have alleged that there appears to be a diabolical plan to very clandestinely in a subtle manner to change the demography of the state. This is an alarming apprehension and the ruling set up needs to come clear on this. If they claim to be standing for the dignity and honour of Kashmiris, they may even have to get out of the Polar Bear hug. But the million dollar question is whether they will do so? However, the historical reality is that the Kashmiri rulers of recent times never leave power voluntarily. They always get thrown out!