What is Gupkar lobby fighting for?

By K.N. Pandita

Gupkar lobby’s utterance is in effect the dirge for the demise of dynastic rule and power. The dynamics of history is that old order changes yielding place to new. This is as true about the Sheikh House as that of Maharaja Hari Singh. The history repeated itself after seventy-three years. Nations enjoy permanence but not the monarchs or their glamour.

Farooq presumes he can undo this universal truth by a show of mobocracy to which the Kashmiris have a historical penchant. Who does not know that his popularity is an enigma? It has come to him essentially from being the son of late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah though most Kashmiris are strongly apathetic to a dynastic rule. Dispassionately speaking, his contribution to Kashmir history is only in one prominent field and that is a plethora of colourful whims and eccentricities, all bandaged in self-aggrandizement. Yet he rejoices when told he has a method in madness.

His ideology of no accession to Pakistan, bequeathed to him by his illustrious father is neither a whim nor an eccentricity. It does not mean either hate for Pakistan or love for India, none of these. He does not support the option of Kashmir for Pakistan because he knows very well how Pakistan would treat Kashmiris nothing more than hewers of wood and drawers of water. He has spent days in the UK living and interacting with Pakistanis and PoK Diaspora there. There are no takers of his bluff in Pakistan but in India, there is no dearth of them, and the Sheikh dynasty survived because its bluff worked with the Indians.

After grabbing power – offered on a platter in October 1947 – the “doublespeak” became an obvious political culture and tactical idiom of National Conference leadership particularly Sheikh Abdullah and his lineal successors. Since in its early days, NC had gathered political momentum through mosques – now a copyright tradition of Kashmir politicos – and the Sheikh had assiduously fathomed the naivety of Congress leadership, the “doublespeak” became almost a political lethal weapon very deftly handled by the valley leadership for seven long decades. Valley political heavyweights, one and all, ensured that the bluff percolated down to the Kashmir feudalists, elites and the local bureaucratic segments, and finally to the unsuspecting plebeians. Interestingly, even other political groups pronouncedly differing with the NC in their ideological viewpoint also found this Goebelian propaganda convenient and serviceable option to further their game plan.

The Congress in power at the Centre was complacent with the doublespeak of the valley leadership considering it a short cut to good riddance but oblivious of the fact that it was inadvertently allowing the strong nationalist predisposition in Jammu region become its casualty. Jammu is not still coming out of that trauma. The worst is that the BJP High Command is incapable of understanding the genesis of the political trauma of Jammuites.

As Kashmir polity was rife with the doublespeak, it revealed the duplicity of intentions and willful abandonment of conviction on the part of local leadership. The first and most disastrous outcome of this phenomenon was the widespread corruption in almost all facets of the polity. Slowly and steadily it began eating into its vitals. The civil society in general and the administrative superstructure, in particular, began believing that perpetuating a general loot of public exchequer and assets was its birthright because Kashmir “an Islamic territory was occupied by a non-Islamic power”. The loot of the state property raised by a non-Islamic ruling structure was permitted by faith as “mal-i- ghaneem” meaning enemy property lawful for general loot. Therefore whenever the ulema preached honesty they added the sentence that the property of the non-Islamic entity was lawful to be looted. What the Indian Enforcement Department today calls scams, embezzlement, misappropriation, money laundering, hawala, illegal transactions, narcotic trade etc. sounds strange and alien to the ears of Kashmir Valley leadership and the brainwashed public both. When the religion legitimizes it in the name of mal-i-ghaneem, what right has the ED to proceed in the matter?

Has the Gupkar Alliance the welfare and development of Kashmir its primary objective? The development of Jammu and Kashmir, a heterogeneous conglomerate of humanity, along democratic, secular and egalitarian lines has been neither understood nor practised by the valley majority based statecraft. How could they understand it when the J&K Constitution never accepted any group a minority? It never considered minority as the wielding device and cementing force of a balanced social order and unifying ingredient. The alliance, as stated, is a loud lament for the loss of power and hegemony of a couple of ruling houses or local satraps and their ignominious auxiliaries, one and all pursuing the solitary agenda of self-aggrandizement and nepotism.

When late Mufti Saeed formed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he publicly announced that one of the important programmes of the new party was to help Kashmir get rid of the dynastic rule because it was the negation of democracy. On this count, Mahbooba conducted her Jamaat-i-Islami proxied election campaign and won. But today she stands shoulder to shoulder with the leader who has roped in six or seven smaller groups to lend their support to him as the scion of the Sheikh ruling dynasty. Farooq’s one-time Finance Minister’s son has a case of 170 crore rupees bank loan for setting up industries. Instead, he has purchased properties in the European and Gulf countries all at the expense of Kashmiri taxpayer. Notwithstanding his history, this former Finance Minister is a close associate of Farooq in the Gupkar Alliance.

How far are the valley leaders concerned with the welfare of Kashmir is evidenced by the Roshni Act scandal through which more than two lakh kanals of state forest land has been granted to the politicians, bureaucrats, corporate houses, capitalists, and influential persons of one particular community at throw away price causing a loss of billions of rupees to the state exchequer? The Roshni Act has been declared null and void by the High Court. This scandal took place when Nabi Azad of Congress was the chief minister in a coalition government with PDP and the conspiracy was allegedly hatched in collaboration with Farooq. Is the Roshni Act a developmental project for the millions of Kashmiri people or for the thick creamy layer of its society?

During its long stints in power, the NC has nothing to show by way of concrete development of Kashmir. They always stonewalled outside investment on the pretext of leaving space open for local entrepreneurs. What is the result? Look how these local entrepreneurs and their enterprises have been contributing to the alienation of the people and financially strengthening the creamy class of Kashmirian society. Why have not the administrative organs of the state been able to submit utilization certificates for enormous funds they received under various schemes over time? Where has that money gone? Why have most of the Centers’ development schemes been abandoned soon after these were inaugurated? What has happened to various central schemes generally called PM’s schemes for this and that? Kashmir Valley political parties have throughout pursued only a one-track policy of blackmailing the Centre with falsehoods, canards and fabricated stories. The simple formula which the Kashmir valley leadership adopted in the course of insurgency beginning 1989-90 is “Hindostan sandooq band karega to Pakistan se bandooq lenge, meaning if India closes coffers on us we will grab guns from Pakistan.

Prime Minister Modi has understood the bottom of Kashmir doublespeak. He has taken strong measures to contain blackmailing of Central government and agencies. The easy flow of billions of rupees has stopped and the pockets of doublespeak robbers are going dry. Accountability has been initiated and the skeletons are crumbling out of the cupboards of broad-day burglar one by one. Their deep involvement in monetary scams, in overt empathy for militancy, in providing backdoor entries to government jobs to kith and kin, in looting the state exchequer, in corrupting society and services and in spreading falsehood and canards against India, are among their contribution to the development of Kashmir.

Now they want Kashmir to return to the same old order so that their path to perfidy and scandals is thrown open. That, in short, is what the Gupkar Alliance is fighting for. They want people of the valley to remain confined to straight-jacketed orthodoxy allowing no liberal ideas to grow and flow within the society. Progress and development of Kashmir is a distant cry and what sustains the unholy alliance is anti-India proclivities at a time when even in Pakistan saner voices are asking Pakistani government to understand and appreciate the nation-building ideology pursued by Prime Minister Modi.

In the final analysis, what is the Gupkar lobby fighting against? Yes, it has a comprehensive agenda for their fight. Let us itemize it. They are fighting the Home Ministry AGAINST

  • (a) giving statehood to five lakh Hindu and Sikh refugees of 1947 carnage in Muzaffarabad, Mirpur and Rajouri living a stateless life for last seven decades
  • (b) Against giving PRC to nearly 2 lakh Valmikis whose services were formally requisitioned by the State government from Punjab as safai karamcharis more than half a century ago. Against
  • (c) authorities taking action for clandestine resettlement of nearly 90 thousand Rohingya Muslims in Samba and Jammu district along the sensitive IB and LoC thereby shredding Article 370 and Special Status proviso to pieces. (It will be noted that these people were given ration cards, Aadhaar cards, bank passbooks, water and electricity connections and other facilities within weeks of their arrival thus giving a clear proof that the valley-dominated regimes wanted to bring about demographic change in Jammu); against
  • (d) Loot of nearly 2 lakh kanals of government land through illegal Roshni Act gifted away to ex-ministers, legislators, political VIPs, top bureaucrats, top businessmen and other favourites at a throwaway price. Not a single kanal has gone to a poor homeless Kashmiri urban or rural citizen; against
  • (e) Kashmiri girls to whom the statehood status is desired to be restored even if they marry a spouse outside Kashmir, not only they but their progeny as well; against
  • (f) Return and rehabilitation of ethnically cleansed seven lakh Kashmiri Pandits back in their homeland after grabbing or vandalizing their immoveable and moveable properties; against
  • (g) Investments in industrial enterprises with the potential of generating large scale employment for the unemployed locals; against
  • (h) breaking monopolies by valley-based corporate houses that abet and disseminate anti-national and communal propaganda; against
  • (i) universalization, liberalization and emancipation of Islamic society and harnessing it to the age of scientific and reason; against
  • (j) the historic effort of the secular-democratic India to empower its minorities (especially the Muslims) and EWS with their constitutional and other rights, and against
  • (k) holding entire Muslim community of the valley a hostage to conservative and orthodox Islam of Turko-Pak-Indonesian triumvirate where all beliefs converge on radicalization and weaponization.

The NC leadership is now preparing to invite China to help them get rid of Indian secular democracy and return to 14 centuries-old tribal social order to tell the world they are pure Muslims.

If China can help Farooq restore him the Kashmir Sultanate based on his religious philosophy, we would politely suggest Farooq go to Yarkand, Kashghar, Khotan, and Urumchi etc. in his first leg in Xinjiang and visit the hundreds of concentration camps for the Uighur Sunni Muslims to know what type of religious freedom they are enjoying. Kashmiris have a long history of inviting foreigners to come and rule over them. Farooq is meticulously preserving the tradition laid down by Maulana Sarfi and his delegation way back in the closing days of the 16th century to the court of Akbar. Hopefully, after his Chinese camaraderie, he will impress upon Kashmiris of the valley to enjoy the love of Chinese rule.

If the Gupkarists had any love for Kashmir they would have strongly condemned the attack planned by Jaish-e Muhammad terrorist organization of Pakistan that was foiled by brave Indian soldiers in Nagrota only recently. Anybody lamenting for Kashmir would not remain silent on such perfidy by Pakistan. This exposes the subconscious mind meaning the doublespeak of the Gupkarists nursing nothing but ill intentions against the Indian State and the nation.

The decision of the Gupkar lobby of participating in the DDC, Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat elections is a healthy decision. After realizing the blunder of boycotting previous Panchayat and other elections and leaving the space free for BJP to walk over, the Gupkar conglomerate has corrected itself albeit after a grave tactical miscalculation of which BJP took the fullest benefit. Their decision to participate in DDC and other elections this time is indicative of the fragility of their stand against democratic institutions of the county and their decision of fighting the elections jointly on the basis of fair distribution of seats is a big indication of their serious apprehensions about their ability to make a dent in the BJP constituency in the valley. It is so because they know the old game of rigging elections will no more work under present dispensation and the voters will no more be intimidated. No fewer than 18 BJP activists in the valley, or the Panchs and Sarpanchs have been gunned down so far by the militants reported to be enjoying overt or covert patronage of the politicians. The lobbyist did not have the humanism of even expressing condolence on the killing of these victims. The consequences of wanton destruction of innocent lives will have its far-reaching impact on the forthcoming elections. Interestingly, the constituent groups are askance at the usual hegemony of NC demanding lion’s share rightly or wrongly. The fissures in the phony unity of the cavaliers are not far to seek.

However, notwithstanding their antecedents, the lobbyists have taken a right step now, which is in the interests for genuine democratic dispensation in the Union Territory and its masses. Nobody anywhere in the world takes notice of their tantrum of restitution of abrogated articles or restoration of special status. The two power-thirsty dynastic standard-beares are standing on seashore and watching with utmost despondence their ship lowering down in the deep vacuum of history. One thing they fully and unanimously understand is that both of their reclining cushions viz. Pakistan and Congress, are either in the process of collapsing or have virtually collapsed. The takers and givers of doublespeak are conspicuous by their foolhardiness. There is still a chance of rectifying their waywardness and taking the masses of people of Jammu and Kashmir out of the morass into which they have been le d. It is for the masses of the people to choose the right path as they are standing on the crossroad of history.
(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).

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