Beyond AIIMS’ narrative

By K.N. Pandita

State Government’s handling of Jammu AIIMS issue is a sordid story of coalition partner BJP’s capitulation to lust for power. Looking in retrospect, many Kashmir observers were of opinion that so-called coalition between the two parties, that are poles apart with regard to their ideology and vision, would not augur well for a state that is faced with grave challenges of militancy and the hurricane of radicalization.

BJP should have tried for the lesser evil so that it would not need adopting the policy of surrender. Instead, it chose a party that is born from the womb of militancy. BJP did not need any convincing that PDP draws its strength and popularity from its proximity to separatists. BJP also knew what is meant by PDP soft politics of “applying ointment to the wounds.” They did not need to be educated on who are the “wounded”; who inflicted “wounds” on whom; what are the “wounds”; who will apply the ointment, and above all, what are the components of the “ointment” that will cure them?

The two sides took six weeks to hammer out common minimum programme. They never made it public in full; all that they do is leaving a cryptic hint here or there that such and such item is agreed upon in CMP.

BJP higher echelons boasted they had got a toehold in Kashmir power structure and it will help them in stemming the rot in state administration. Actually, they are novices to State politics as well as the separatist politics. BJP’s total surrender is not by design but by compulsion. No self-respecting leadership will acquiesce to the subtle politics of its coalition partner.

BJP, at state and central levels, first betrayed the Hindu refugees of 1947 attack of tribesmen on the State. Despite tall promises made to them during election campaign, there is no move about granting them the status of state subject. This stands in diametrical opposition to the state policy of rehabilitation of terrorists back in the State after they have carried out numerous terrorism-related crimes.

Then there is the case of return and rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons from the valley. Within 12 hours of simultaneous declaration by the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of the State about their agreement on concentrated rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons from the valley, the hell was let lose in the valley. Legislators of all hues from the valley, the treasury benches, the opposition and the independents, one and all, rose in revolt and nailed the government over rehabilitating the IDPs according to their free will. BJP legislators, 26 of them, remained dumb and voiceless, obviously under the party whip. None among the 26 members had the qualms of conscience to ask what the common minimum programme in respect of rehabilitation of the IDPs stipulated. They surrendered to Kashmir valley majority’s haranguing, which indirectly meant the majority seizing colonizing rights of the valley. A government which cannot have the guts to rehabilitate its displaced citizens at a place and in a manner of their choice is not worth its salt. It fails the Constitution, the nation, the charter of human rights and its own conscience Sadly, after facing blank in the valley and pocketing rebuffs not only from valley leadership of all hues but also from even the man in the street, the central government had not even the courage to tell the Chief Minister that Kashmir cannot be the satrapy and a colony of a potentate.

Coming to the AIIMS issue, it is PDP’s slap on the face of BJP. Initially AIIMS was announced for Jammu. Mufti Sayeed’s government very subtly manipulated its shifting to Srinagar. Central leadership first vacillated between Jammu and Srinagar, and finally, local BJP party finding that if it does not fall in line, could be out of power, gladly agreed to betray Jammu region. The spineless BJP is now facing the music.

If the phraseology of “all facilities like AIIMS” has not a different connotation as is claimed by Jammu BJP leadership, why not call a spade by its proper name? Why then resort to polemics and not an ordinary man’s idiom? The strike has entered the fourth day. Entire Jammu region is aflame. Cities, towns and villages are all in commotion. Will barricading the streets, lathi charging the mobs, arresting the leaders and unleashing fear and then embarking on massive false propaganda help in solving the issue? The entire Jammu intelligentsia, the business class, the working class, the bar association, the student community, the house wives the daily wagers, one and all, are staunch sympathizers of movement for Jammu AIIMS. One can be happy to be an ostrich.

BJP has lost its credibility in Jammu not owing to extraneous forces but by its incompetent statesmanship. The Congress has mastered the art of double speak; the BJP has mastered the art of surrendering with ignominy. That is the politics of spineless political parties.

The issue is gradually assuming an ugly shape. Our advice to the BJP is that nothing in Kashmir will change by your adopting acquiescent underdog posture. Nobody will have even an iota of sympathy with you if you continue to surrender cowardly on issues one after another. BJP’s inept handling of two issues, namely return of the IDPs and AIIMS, have ushered in an era of second debacle of BJP in the State. There is a warning, mind it or leave it, the choice is yours. Remember the prophetic words of the bard: taqdir ke qazi ka yeh futwa hai azal se/ hai jurm-e zaifi ki saza marg-e mafajat (The decree of the jurist of destiny delivered on the day of creation is that the punishment for the crime of weakness is death alone).

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