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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 44 New Delhi October 24, 2015

Mood in Kashmir Valley

Saturday 24 October 2015, by Humra Quraishi


I have been restless and upset by the disgustingly communal moves of the govern-ment of the day. And in the midst of this I decided to travel to the Kashmir Valley to report on the flood victims’ survival in the backdrop of the fact that a considerable majority of those rendered homeless are still squatting homeless. Yes, even after a year, even as autumn is paving the way for another harsh winter. But before I could get to hear details of the dismal realities on that front, I was taken aback to hear every single Kashmiri I met in and around Srinagar voice his or her utter disgust with the BJP making official inroads into the Valley. I was taken aback to see from cab drivers to the roadside vendors to the elite lot shaking their heads in dismal motions before quipping that Mufti sahib should not have made this alliance with the BJP. A long list of reasons for their anger with the BJP; highlighting that the Dadri lynching incident was not just the deadliest but potent enough to show that the RSS pracharaks and mahapracharaks are running the show called governance!

In contrast to those earlier years—where old-timers in the Valley argued rather too earnestly that Kashmir is ‘safe’ or, say, ‘safer with India’ —this time the mood was of anger, throwing up a series of arguments along the rationale, ‘Who is safe in India? Nobody is safe! Modi and his Ministers are provoking us ... Muslims are getting killed with any possible excuse! How can Modi’s sarkar talk of a common civil code when Muslims and Dalits and Christians are treated like third-class citizens! The sarkar hangs Yaqub Memon and Afzal Guru but does not touch their own Hindutva terrorists flourishing all over—from Mumbai to Karnataka to Uttar Pradesh to Madhya Pradesh! How are Ministers like Mahesh Sharma allowed to flourish when he talks provocative third-class nonsense! Anybody can be killed anywhere!’

There seemed anger not just amongst the apolitical Kashmiri but also amongst the political lot. Several vocal enough to state that there’d be some hope for the PDP if it divorces the BJP. Yes, even at his late stage. And if I were to write about Engineer Rasheed—the only independent MLA in J&K—I‘d met him on October 5, that is, a couple of days before he’d hosted the beef party. He told me he was a qualified engineer but decided to fight elections to save himself from police brutality. To quote him, ‘I wasn’t politically inclined nor ambitious... my basic idea to stand for elections was to be out of police threats and torture ...I have gone through hell all through my adult years. I have been wrongly imprisoned by the police, tortured in their lock-ups.’ ’Perhaps, he is still so wary of police ways that even as full-fledged MLA
he has declined police protection and also escort vehicles. ‘I’m not comfortable with the police and have declined all forms of security. Today the situation is bad ...very bad. The State has turned brutal. What more can I say?’

I will be writing more ...some more on the ground realities in the Valley in next week’s column.