Haseeb Drabu crucified

Vimal Sumbly
‘In a world of fugitives, person taking opposite direction will always be thought to have run away’, TS Eliot.
The misplaced outrage, over Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu having spoken the truth that Kashmir is not  a political problem, is only the symptom of the masochistic syndrome the pro-secessionist Kashmiris love to take pleasure in by always crying wolf. Drabu has been crucified as if he had committed blasphemy. His removal also reveals the double face of the BJP that in order to stick to power it can go for any compromise. What Drabu has spoken or what is being attributed to him is actually the line BJP and the Congress have traditionally adopted and for that matter BJP has been much more aggressive. While the PDP for the obvious reasons of political expediency has dropped Drabu from the ministry, the BJP by supporting the decision, that seeks to subvert and undermine its own political belief, has displayed worst political opportunism.
Ideally it should have sparked off a debate. Those disagreeing with Drabu, instead of crucifying him, should have come up with logical arguments to counter what he said. But debate has never been allowed in Kashmir for the ‘sake of freedom’.
Mr Drabu has spoken the truth. Not only has he been gagged, but he already stands crucified for political expediency and opportunism of the People’s Democratic Party. Imagine the paradox of the situation; the PDP has no issues in aligning with the BJP, a party which is diametrically opposed to its (PDP’s) ideology. But if its minister, with an exceptionally brilliant mind of his own, makes a casual reference to a fact that nobody has courage to state, the party takes no time to crucify him at the altar of political expediency and opportunism.
This is the worst level of political intolerance upon which the Kashmiri secessionism has always survived, besides utter lies. Unfortunately, the mainstream parties like PDP and NC have also played footsie with the idea. The secessionists have never tolerated any contrarian view that is based on historical truths. The very birth and survival of the secessionist movement has been dependent on always stifling the truth and silencing the contrarian view. It began with the killing of National Conference worker Mohammad Yousuf Halwai who was shot dead just because he had not followed the militants’ diktat to observe blackout and switch off the lights of his house on August 15, 1989. In the name of freedom, the secessionists induced and imbibed a sense of fatal fear among people whom they thought were opposed to them. This led to ‘daily notices of dissociation’ (izhar-i-lataluqi) issued in local newspapers by most of the workers of the National Conference and the Congress. The irony is that a party like BJP otherwise claiming itself to be ultranationalist has now been supporting the same thing; stifling the voice of reason and siding with the secessionists.
What Drabu said or what was attributed to him is the actual reality. Kashmir is not at all a political problem, no matter how much breast-beating the secessionists and their supporters resort to. Kashmir is not also a conflict zone. Sporadic and symbolic protests here and there notwithstanding, these in no way ‘qualify’ it for the conflict zone, the secessionists will try to make everybody believe in. The life goes on absolutely normal in Kashmir. Every Kashmiri has a house to live in. He enjoys a good lifestyle as compared to rest of India and much better than those living in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Pakistan itself. Kashmir’s economy is doing much better. There are no people living below poverty line. More than that they enjoy complete political freedom.
Except for the forced closure of cinema halls and liquor shops the Kashmiris enjoy life to the hilt. Kashmiris love to watch movies on television and through internet. The sale of liquor in army canteens is among the highest, thanks to the local consumption. There are beauty salons in all the big and small towns of the valley. Recently, a local English daily carried a half page feature on a Kashmiri beautician, who is doing very well in Srinagar, the secessionists will make us believe is conflict stricken. Beauty parlours don’t thrive in conflict zones like Syria and Lebanon. The ‘happiness quotient’ in Kashmir may be much higher than other places in the subcontinent. Still the secessionists duly and directly supported by the likes of PDP, NC and indirectly by the BJP will make everyone believe otherwise.
That Kashmir problem is not a political problem, one needs to have courage of conviction to say so. Today it was Drabu who showed the courage to speak the truth. Sooner or later the truth will be accepted. The fatal fear induced by the militants is certainly not going to last for long. Drabu has actually tried to hold a mirror to Kashmiris that they are being misled and made to believe in something, which does not exist. Kashmir has enjoyed the fruits of freedom and democracy much better than rest of the country. The silly excuse of 1987 elections having been rigged and that becoming the cause of the militancy is outrageously absurd. Elections have been rigged in other parts of the country also. And even if elections were rigged, who rigged those? It was nobody from outside the State. It was only the homegrown National Confer-ence that allegedly rigged the elections.
The time has come for the Government of India to stop political pampering in Kashmir. Let the law of the land prevail. Despite having a classic example of how militancy was curbed in Punjab, the Government of India refuses to learn. Drabu’s statement and its fallout must be a lesson and wake up call for those at the helm that there has been too much of pampering going around. The voices of reason must not be allowed to be stifled.