Earlier last week Mahmooda Mufti’s speech was being telecast live by India TV. I wanted to check where did she speak in the vein that she did which appeared to be highly rational. I scanned all the newspapers that I get – Hindi as well as English – but I could not find it covered in any of them. The Times of India, of course, did not report it and even The Hindu – a newspaper that reports in detail everything of national interest uttered by a person of the stature of a chief minister – seemed to have glossed over it.
I do not recollect where Ms. Mufti was speaking but she was certainly addressing a public meeting. After a curfew lasting 50-odd days or so she appeared to be trying to look objectively at the entire situation prevailing in the Kashmir Valley. In not trying to throw homilies at the people collected in front, she was only trying to talk about the more-than-a-month long violence that has brought all the social, economic, educational and political activities to a standstill in the Valley.
Wondering how the problem flared up after the killing of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen jehadi, she said virtually every day there is some militant or the other is killed but this kind of disturbances had never taken place before. For what happened earlier there used to be a reason or two like in 2010 the alleged rape of two women in Shopian which eventually was disproved as it was found to be an ordinary case of drowning. But the Kashmiri separatists had whipped up an agitation which lasted for days and the Valley was completely shut down. This time, however, there was no reason for such an eruption. No Kashmiri innocent was killed as the man killed was a militant – a potential killer of Kashmiri policemen or Kashmiri innocents..
She thought this time it was not spontaneous as it appeared that a certain amount of preparation had gone into it. Evidently, the organizers of the violence were waiting for an opportunity to inflame passions and Wani killing provided just the right one and was opportune. Obviously it was the work of the separatists and their cohorts. She said, yes, police were also violent but what could they do against dire provocations. “You snatch away their guns and keep pelting stones on them”, she told the people assembled in front of her, making them fear for their own lives. Under such circumstances any security force would try to quell such ghastly civil violence using whatever methods they could muster. In the process, some civilians were killed but some from the police forces were also killed and a large number of them were wounded.
What is more, she said the agitationists were using women and children as shields. Children as young as 10 years old were wounded. Ms. Mufti wondered what a 10-year old was doing in the agitation. If the child was hit by pellets the blame should go to his parents who did not take care of him by keeping him at home. Allowing the child to join violent demonstrations was not only unwise, it was also criminal, presumably, as it was abetting violent demonstrations.
She repeated the same arguments at the press conference the other day addressed jointly by her and the country’s home minister. She even got worked up and appeared to be accusatory and snapped at a reporter bringing the conference to a close. She apparently had caught on to the machinations of the separatists who were till now not able to organize a long drawn-out confrontation. This time, as is evident, a large number of militants have been pumped into the Valley by Saiyed Salahuddin’s Hizbul Mujahideen, a proxy for the ISI of Pakistan, located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. A thousand of its trained militants were claimed to be in the Valley and another thousand were waiting to infiltrate at an opportune moment. The figures could be exaggerated as the militants tend to exaggerate their prowess. But, there is no denying the fact that it is the foreign militants, ably assisted by the mischievous separatists Jeelani and Co., are behind this stretched out confrontation.
At the back of it, however, is the ISI of Pakistan which is the mastermind of such disturbances. I have immense faith in what AS Dulat, the former chief of India's Intelligence, has written in his “Kashmir – the Vajpayee years” because he was one official who met and developed a kind of trust amongst the militants about his bonafides. They would come to him and talk to him about all things regarding Kashmir militancy. During one such conversation a senior and influential militant had told him that at Dubai an ISI official had told him that nothing happens in Kashmir without the ISI’s initiatives. It is ISI that “Calls the shots in Kashmir”. From sending terrorists across the borders to organizing chaos and mayhem, it is the ISI which does it all. Everyone is, therefore, aware that the whole thing is inspired by the Pakistanis and their agencies with the assistance of their proxies in Srinagar. Only innocent Kashmiris are being used as cannon fodder.
Be that as it may, one can, nevertheless, fail to appreciate the attitude of our so-called secular press. While The Times of India did not report the speech of Mahmooda Mufti at a public meeting referred to earlier, it reported in detail stretching across columns the alarming views on the present unrest in Kashmir of Musaffir Hussain Baig, a former Dy. Chief Minister and a mere member of Parliament from Mahmooda’s PDP. He has said that the local “struggle” runs the risk of becoming a (kind of) religious extremism – of losing its political goal and getting a “religious vision”. He seems to be quite ill-informed as the separatists know their political goals are never going to be achieved. As Dulat has recorded, even President Musharraf, whom they had met in Delhi, had told them there cannot be re-drawing of the boundaries as India would never allow that. Hence they needed to change their thinking. Besides mercifully, religious undertones are presently absent in the movement. He sees a danger of the unrest becoming a part of the “international struggle”. Perhaps, he is away from Kashmir, he seems, therefore to be utterly out of depth with whatever is happening there. The newspaper, however, has found it worthy of a long report with an eye-catching headline which, in fact, is nothing but alarming. Being a member of parliament from the PDP perhaps such a comment was not expected from him. If he harbours this kind of a perception it would have been wiser for him to communicate it to Ms. Mufti instead of airing his apprehensions in public through a newspaper column to set alarm bells ringing.
The whole thing is nothing but Pakistan’s way of inflicting those “thousand cuts” of Zia ul Haq on India. As Mahmooda repeatedly said it is the 5% of people, presumably the separatists, who create these problems. The remaining 95% of Kashmiris want to live in peace and harmony. India has, therefore, to ride out the present difficulties by being firm and dominate over the disturbed areas.