B L Saraf
Union Home Ministry has imposed ban on J&K Jammat -e-Islami. The ban order has, expectedly, generated an animated debate in political circles of the Valley and some pockets in the Jammu region . Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have demanded revocation of the ban. Mehbooba added that ban on J I amounts to interference in the religious matters .
The criticism of the ban order has invited a response from Governor Satya Pal Malik. He said ” the political parties which were coming out in support of the banned organizations are making their position clear and are siding with the separatists . Any party or person supporting separatists is anti -national and playing into the hands of terrorists and Pakistan .” Governor’s statement , in turn, also evoked comments from the interested quarters .
Apart from a legal position, there is a political angle to the issue as well. Therefore, what Governor has said on the clamour for revoking the ban – referring perhaps to the statements of Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooa Mufti – needs to be analyzed in a proper perspective. Some see in this statement a veiled threat to the citizen’s right of fair comment and a muzzle order on political thought process .
Governor Malik’s statement calls for a careful reading : of , both , what is written in the lines and which is discernible between the lines. Remember, Stay Pal Malik , unlike his predecessors, is a dyed in wool politician whose political grooming has been in a democratic environment. That he is occupying a high constitutional position we assume Governor must have weighed every word before uttering it .
Apparently, the Governor’s statement seems to be aimed at those politicians who jump to bailout the terrorists and their over ground supporters whenever law enforcing agencies move in to take action against them. It is given to all the political parties who believe in constitutionalism to ensure prevalence of proper political and administrative order in the country or the state -as the case may be . Ruling party has added responsibility .This principle applies more earnestly to J & K . Since the state is run presently by the Governor, so for all practical reasons NDA’s -more appropriately of the BJP’s rule applies to the state.
NC and PDP, being in opposition, have a responsibly towards the people. They surely have a right to ask questions, seek answers from the government and raise issues of public importance. That includes the one to ask the state government as to how it deals with the political forces, howsoever, dissenting they may be. J I has , in not so distant past, sworn to the Union and the state constitutions when it entered State Assembly and contested Lok sabha poll in 1977. In 1987, the party contested the state assembly elections with a gusto. Who knows how will political scenario find a shape in near future in the state. After all, we haven’t heard any the functionary of JI ever regretting that decision. It is in this background one will have to judge merit of questions raised by NC and the PDP on imposing ban on the JI. It is too much to say that by merely seeking revocation of ban on J I N C and the PDP render themselves as anti nationals and sympathizers of the separatists.
It can’t be denied , however, that both NC and PDP failed to rise to the occasion when terrorists created mayhem and killed innocent civilians and those locals who had joined security forces. Often they were found wanting to send an effective message of peace across the Valley . Their demand to the Central government to come with out of box solution for the ‘problem ‘ sounds hollow. Because by their ‘ convenient ‘ positioning NC and PDP exhibit a compartmentalized mindset . Kashmir is undergoing a spell of radicalization.No attempt has been made by these parties to stem the trend. Instead of initiating a process to reverse the radicalization, these Kashmir centric parties find it safe to dance to the same tune, albeit with a convenient political veneer. For Hurriyat leadership it is understandable . They generally tend to view this phenomenon as a facilitation of their separatist agenda . For NC and PDP it becomes problematic .
Governor Malik’s words should be appreciated in this context . He is reminding mainstream political parties in Kashmir of their genuine political and constitutional duties they owe to the people. However , it must be said to his credit, Malik has given enough indications that he is well aware of the nationalistic credentials of both N C and the PDP .
There is enough political space beyond NC and PDP in Kashmir, for the mainstream politics to thrive on . NC is really in worrying times. Many in Kashmir see N C ,now, a jaded political force which is fast losing its brand value . PDP was formed by borrowing from other political outfits and political weathercocks. Now, whether turning rough for it the party is on the brink of extinction . Sailing in two boats will sink it down . Mehbooba must know, as there are no good terrorists and the bad terrorists, similarly, it sounds oxymoronic to make a distinction between soft terrorism and the hard terrorism . PDP should hear Governor , dispassionately .
All political forces in J& K Kashmir should realize that the state has suffered a lot due to the terrorism . Measures for countering terrorism are critical . But for that to succeed and be sustainable it is necessary to have every Kashmiri including KPs feel secure . A serious effort is needed to bring about social cohesion. Even dissenting voices have a stake. Extremism thrives in fragmented societies . NC and PDP being professed nationalistic parties it is incumbent on them to take decisive sides for peace measures when it comes to terror tackling. Terror has to be met with all force . Half measure won’t serve any purpose . Governor Malik’s statement must be read as positive messaging in this regard , calling upon both NC and PDP to not dither when lives of innocent are threatened. By no means can this statement be read as an attempt to delegitimize Farrooq’s or Mehbooba’s right to ask questions when situation so demands.
Local political parties being psychologically in a better position must pick up the signals that many in the state feel tired of war. This happens in every place which suffers long spells of conflict. Some days back youth of Nagaland had a demonstration in Delhi. They did not ask questions. All that they expressed was their tiredness of war and tiredness of wait for return of peace. This could be our moment also. Political parties must seize it .
(The author is former Principal District &Sessions Judge)
B L Saraf