“Hum Nibhayenge”: Congress Manifesto

By K.N. Pandita

On Tuesday, Congress President formally released the party’s manifesto for the J&K State titled “Congress will deliver”. The question is not of “delivering”; it is of accepting what is delivered. What the Congress has promised to deliver is an upgraded appeasement package this time wrapped in silk-soft packing stuff. The title “Hum Nibhayenge” carries the subtle meaning that “we shall accommodate you”. Has not Congress accommodated Kashmiris ever since the accession, and of course, at the expense of the other two regions and valley minority sections? In a Sheetalnath (Srinagar) Pandit rally in 1946, Nehru told the large gathering of the Pandits that the only way of survival for them was to join the NC of Sheikh Abdullah. Seven years later, on 9 August 1953, he dismissed the Sheikh and sent him to the jail to languish there for the next eleven years.

A manifesto generally speaks of developmental plans, futuristic visions and progressive policies. However, Congress’ manifesto is avidly regressive and pedantic in essence. Or maybe, the Congress thinks only a regressive constituency can be its dependable vote bank.

Neither developmental roadmap nor an inspirational message emanates from the text of the manifesto, which only jokers would hail as a panacea to their present woes and a sheet anchor for their future prosperity. It speaks profusely not only of the status quo but also of 70-year reversal of the history of the State. It is poles apart from what the classical manifestos of the Congress of good old days used to be. The memorandum, in the drafting of which considerable pedagogic and bureaucratic skill is invested, practically gives nothing to those who swear by aazaadi or its distilled variant called Pakistan.

Two assertions of the manifesto deserve special attention. There is no mention of terrorism (in fact the word is nowhere used in the 55-page document) which reveals how the Congress compromises with terrorism as it has done in the past. Secondly, there is not even the smallest hint to the sacrifices of their precious lives made by our security forces in Kashmir. The manifesto vouches for reduction of the defence manpower in the valley. Who had approached the Defence Ministry for deployment of army in Kashmir and who declared Kashmir a disturbed area? Therefore, if the people of Kashmir rose against the presence of the Indian army, this indirectly meant they rose against the decision of the Congress plus NC government. The NDA only continued the policy and cannot be accused of deploying the army in the valley. The special powers (AFSPA etc) are the corollaries to the policy of Congress and NC regimes. Now denuding the army personnel of the protective shield provided by the law while fighting a deadly proxy war in which the enemy is not only using highly lethal arms and suicide bombing tactics but is also extensively supported by the Goebbelsian lies of local political leadership as well as the totally radicalized and brainwashed Kashmirian civil society. The quick take from this stance of the Congress could be a deepening disappointment among the rank and file of our defence forces, particularly the army. In all probability, under these circumstances, the Commander-in-Chief will ask “What for should I put the lives of my boys at stake?” More Generals and more army men may join voice with him. To whose prompting the Congress chief is responding?

By choosing to be blatantly valley-centric, and relegating Jammu and Ladakh regions to benign negligence, the Congress has paved the way for stimulating disintegration of the State which its stalwart leader and former ruler of the State recently put in the phraseology of “three autonomous regions”. If that is the agenda of this national level party, it should have taken steps towards that goal long back and not become a silent spectator to the Kashmir bloodbath.

Countrymen know who wants the army to be withdrawn fully or partially from Kashmir and why. Countrymen know who among our neighbours is overtly and covertly essaying for the success of the Congress party in parliamentary elections and why. Observers find a striking similarity between the idiom of the Congress and that of the Jamaat-i-Islami ( on both sides of the line).

Of course, the camaraderie between Congress and NC beggars no description. Dynastic broods are the birds of the same feather and they must fly together. The father and son duo is bidding for the twin crowns, the — Sadr-e-Riyasat and Wazir-Azam — and the Congress is impatient to embalm them. But the irritating question is what good it brings to the Kashmiris in general who have gone through three long decades of bloodshed, the creation of the same royalties?

The manifesto not only keeps clear of the word “sedition” but also commits amendment in the legal terminology connected with it. The Congress’ argument is that in contemporary political lexicon sedition finds no place and is replaced by other terminology. The question is if “sedition” is the concept and polemics of the colonial days and Congress is allergic to its use, then by the same logic “autonomy” or “special status” are no less a colonial hangover. Where then was the need for a “special status” for Kashmir? It was incorporated only to perpetuate colonial and hegemonic temper, which are the glaring traits of Congress’ character. Moreover, we need to remember that after his dismissal and internment in August 1953 as the Prime Minister of J&K, Sheikh Abdullah was tried for sedition by the Nehru government. The prosecution continued for several years and was finally dropped silently. Again, Maqbool Bhat, the founder of JKLF was tried and hanged under the law of sedition during the Congress rule. And what has the Congress to say at the killing of Bhindranwale within the precincts of Harmandir Sahib?

Does the Congress mean to convey that when I apply the rule it is good but when you apply the same it is bad?

Assuming that all the Congress succeeds pouring all the milk and honey down the throat of Kashmiri Muslims, the question remains will it mean that the Congress has delivered? Will it mean that Congress ne nibhaya? Is that the grand finale of the three-decade-old bloody struggle of Kashmiris? Does Congress think Kashmiris are so naïve as to dismiss that question as irrelevantly?

Kashmiris demand secession from India and accession to Pakistan. Kashmiris want a direct link with the Muslim countries especially Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi, Egypt and others. Kashmiris want sharia law to be promulgated in Kashmir. The Ansar Ghazwatul Hind who fell to the bullets of the Indian security forces somewhere on Pulwama battlefield had said that neither Kashmir nor Pakistan was their destination; it is Islamic Caliphate. Kashmir is central to the great idea of Islamic Caliphate — from the Dardanelles to the Straits of Malacca. That is the reason why Turkish President Erdogan is evincing keen interest in Kashmir issue and is highly supportive of Kashmir insurgency. The world had understood that the Indian Congress soft peddled with the Islamic terrorism when it messed up the murder of Indian Consul Ravindra Mhatre in Birmingham in 1982 on knowing that the Kashmir Liberation Force had been held responsible for the gruesome act. Some commentators call Congress the softer side of the Indian Muslim League.

With covert support from Congress, Kashmir has covered a long distance towards that goal and the lollypops offered in the manifesto will cut no ice with Kashmiris. Kashmir is real paradise to Kashmiris only when it is part of Pakistan but till then it is a part of the hell. Do the frugal sops enumerated by Congress manifesto carry any meaning and sense for the Kashmiris?

The one and only one sentence in the 55-page manifesto on which the Kashmiri leadership and the massed of people have riveted their attention is that of “Entire Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of Indian Union”. Additionally, the appendage that “more troops will be sent to the border to stop infiltration” are the red rag to the bull. This dilutes all the fanciful largesse reflected in the document. The simple question to the Congress president from one and all in Kashmir is this: Do these two sentences reflect your “large-heartedness”?

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