by Ratnakar Tripathy
Wani, who achieved enormous popularity during his brief tenure in Hizbul Mujahideen has now acquired a much greater halo in his death as the size of the crowds attending his funeral would indicate. Mahbuba’s motive in making this strange claim was to assure the Kashmiris that she continues to steer the path of dialogue with the insurgent youth. Even the deputy CM Nirmal Singh from the BJP at some point seemed to suggest the same before retracting his statement. In fact the CM Mufti made statements that giving a clear indication of the double bind she is in – she said everyone should "feel the pain" of the future generation with reference to the deaths in the valley. These lofty sentiments however do not ring true and the Kashmiris made that amply clear through the protests against her which indicate plunging popularity levels from which she may not recover for a long time. The problem is Kashmir is bigger than an individual’s or even a party’s dilemmas, a consideration that doesn’t stop Omar Abdullah from jeering his political enemies through a series of tweets slamming deputy chief minister and BJP leader for calling the encounter killing an accident. Mahbooba makes an easy target of course as ‘there was a time when In fact, Mehbooba would refer to militants as “our boys in the jungles” and advocated “goli se nahin boli se (not with bullets but dialogue)” as the way forward. She would speak out against “State-sponsored terror”. So the state in Kashmir seems to suffer from a mood disorder alternating between a Rambo like approach to caressing words, neither of which make sense any longer in the light of the situation on the ground in Kashmir.
The Congress party on the other hand is undergoing similar vacillations – recently Chidambaram in an interview to Karan Thapar on India Today TV blamed both the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir governments for the current unrest in the Valley. He also said “We look at Kashmir as an issue of land, but it's a problem of people instead. Let the people of Kashmir frame their laws within the ambit of the Constitution. We have to assure that we will respect identity, history, culture, religion.” The obvious question to ask here is why the same insights were not available to Chidambaram when his government was in power. His statement was anyway promptly contradicted by leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad who said "We urge all leaders [of the Congress party] to stick to the party line on Kashmir." Clearly therefore whether one agrees or not with the entire gamut of views of the state, the central government and the Congress, they all share cone common feature – incoherence and indecisiveness. The fact remains that even if there was some hope for restoration of normalcy in Kashmir after Wani’s death, rampant use of the pellet guns have ensured that the problem will fester for a long time to come. The difference this time round may be and that does not seem so obvious at this stage is that a whole generation of Kashmiris will not relate to India as their own – Wani may be the symbol but it is the pellet guns that are the substantive reason for such disillusionment.