Intro: “You are not perhaps unaware of the attempts that are being made by Pakistan to force a decision by disrupting the unity of the State. Once the ranks of the State people are divided, any solution can be foisted on them.”
—Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee to Sheikh Abdulla in his letter dated February 4, 1953
“It will be a curse on the people of Kashmir if they vote for the BJP. People should not vote for parties which plan to install a Hindu chief minister in Jammu & Kashmir,” said Peerzada Mansoor Hussain, who is contesting to retain the Shangus assembly seat in J & K as a PDP candidate. This is nothing new about this notorious legislator, as he is the one who opposed inclusion of word ‘secularism’ in J&K constitution. His party also supported the process by which the names of 700 villages in the valley have been changed. Even the names of the landmarks like the Shankaracharya Hill have been changed to Takht-i-Sulaiman and the name of historic Hari Parbat has been changed to Koh-i-Maran. What is a point of transgression this time is that neither his party nor his party chief is ready to standby him. Is this a change of heart in PDP leadership or is there something more substantial happening in the contours of J&K politics?
The 2014 Parliamentary elections have turned out to be a watershed moment in J&K politics like witnessed in other parts of India. BJP not only emerged as the frontrunner with 32.3% of voteshare by winning all the three seats of Jammu and Ladakh region, but for the first time, in the Kashmir valley, one could feel the presence of nationalist voices.
The unprecedented floods in J&K, followed by rescue and rehabilitation work done by the army at the behest of Centre further changed the perception of people towards the central government and armed forces. Gestures of the PM like celebrating Diwali in the valley, strong positioning of the government vis-a-vis Pakistani shelling, justice delivered by convicting army personnel in Machil fake encounter case etc have given positive strokes to the nationalist sentiments within the valley. As a result, smaller parties like Jammu & Kashmir National Conference are finding BJP as a more reliable option than the regional dynasts.
The common people of J&K are perturbed with the separatist and divisive agenda, and the aspirations of youth, like other parts of India, are on rise. Where Omar Abdulla government has completely failed to address these sentiments; the experience of the people with the Muftis-led PDP is not completely different. Congress’ subtle alliance with separatists and strategy of buying leaders through packages is completely exposed. And pro-Pakistani forces like Geelani-led Hurriyat are losing their credibility not only because of their destructive agenda but also because of their conspicuous absence in the aftermath of floods, when the J&K people needed them the most. Gradually, Pakistan and its support for the Kashmiri cause also have lost its appeal with its internal situation worsening by the day.
Unfortunately, where destructive elements like Peerzada Mansoor are not ready to accept this change, leaders like Mehbooba Mufti cannot approve of it openly. Mindsets of these leaders are historically frozen and they are still hopeful of creating the situation that Shyama Prasad Mookerjee had warned Sheikh Abdulla about. Now the message within the state seems to be loud and clear; the separatist agenda has not paid off, and the best option for the people of J&K is to go with the changing India. Earlier they acknowledge the changing winds in India’s Crown, better it’ll be for them.