Kishtwar violence: National Conference’s brazen falsehood
by Hari Om on 30 Aug 2013 0 Comment

The brazen falsehood which National Conference (NC) working president and Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been flaunting since the August 9 communal assault on the minority community in Kishtwar is that  his party, along with the Congress, doesn’t politically gain from such a situation and it is the BJP which makes political gains out of such situations.


Historically, the National Conference has relished in building communal polarisation in the State and presents itself as a most reliable platform for the Muslims of Jammu & Kashmir. Its tactical and strategic alliances with Jamaat-i-Islami and the Awami Action Committee of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and even the People’s League, are too well known. Secular analysts like Balraj Puri and others have in fact been blaming the National Conference for having a tactical alliance with the BJP for a long time. The National Conference has never denied these things, but now its projection of itself as the most anti-BJP formation can only bring it ridicule.


In the present situation, the anti-BJP rhetoric has two very clear and manifest objectives. It seeks to link the Kishtwar incident with Gujarat to escape reprimand and it is desperately trying to save its alliance with the Congress. The simmering in the State Congress against the National Conference reached a crescendo in recent times Congress Working Committee (CWC) member and former Union Minister Makhan Lal Fotedar launched a frontal attack on the National Conference legacy inherited from Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, founder of the party. Communal events in Doda area of Jammu province can benefit National Conference more than any other political formation. The reaction of local Congress leaders to the indulgence of National Conference in the area and going for the head of the minister of State (MoS) Home Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo is a reflection of this reality.


The alliance of the National Conference with the BJP during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime was not only an outcome of political compulsions of those times, but also a considered view of the National Conference to ally with the BJP as a first priority. The symbolic statement of the National Conference leaders in the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat was an outcome of the National Conference policy; that it chose to remain in alliance with the BJP was neither an act of political incomprehension nor ignorance of the situation. The moral equivalence which the National Conference has been seeking while equating Kishtwar with Gujarat is a more sinister ploy.


Kishtwar and the entire areas around it have been on the radar of the religious cleansers. The 2006 massacre at Kulhand in Doda district was not an isolated event. Twenty unarmed innocent Hindus were then murdered in cold-blood. Religious cleansing operations were unleashed in this area immediately after the expulsion of Kashmiri Hindus from the Valley in early 1990.


While earlier, these operations were carried through terrorist assaults, recent events show the signs of broader societal involvement which reflects radicalisation and which should have been the prime concern of any government. That Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has chosen to ignore it is a reflection of the fact that his party and government are not silent bystanders in what is happening there. The resignation of MoS Home is not the outcome of sensitivity towards the state and the people. It is an attempt at escaping censure and preserving its alliance as well as the broader policy of the party which is patently communal and separatist-friendly.


For quite some time now, the people of Jammu & Kashmir have been witnessing the attempts of the National Conference to befriend radical pan-Islamist organisations in Kashmir. Since Omar Abdullah’s apology to Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf for the acts of omission and commission of his grandfather Sheikh Abdullah, the people have been witnessing concerted attempts by the National Conference to convince Pakistan that it can be its best bet in the State, and far more reliable than the People’s Democratic Party and the Hurriyat Conference.


Abdullah’s discomfiture about the equation of religious cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus from the Valley with the attrition of Hindus in certain areas of Jammu province adjoining Kashmir is an attempt to camouflage the southern march of radical Islam. Omar Abdullah, who only recently said, “Bechare Kashmiri Pandits” was not empathising with the internally-displaced Hindus, but reflecting on the situation of powerlessness to which the community has been reduced since early 1990.


The most healthy and commendable aspect of the national discourse which has taken place in the post-Kishtwar incidents in the Parliament and outside is that there is a clear recognition of the continuity of the sinister machinations of Islamic fundamentalism in the state, as also realisation of the possibility that the National Conference might be abetting in this process.


It is a matter of grave concern that the UPA Government has refused to recognise the implications of what the armed rioters did to the minority community on August 9, and instead backed to the hilt the otherwise roundly condemned Omar Abdullah Government for its failure to act on the inputs provided by various intelligence agencies to avert the disaster.


Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who made a statement in the Rajya Sabha on August 12 on the incident, instead of appreciating the concerns as expressed by Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley, BSP chief Mayawati, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury and others, condoned the crime by making a highly questionable statement that “raising pro-azadi slogans is not a new phenomenon as it happens virtually every Friday”.


The Finance Minister, who spoke for the UPA Government, did not assuage the hurt feelings of the wounded and outraged nation by refusing to endorse the view of the united opposition that the violence in Kishtwar and adjoining areas was not an ordinary event, but involved the “sovereignty and integrity of the country”. As Arun Jaitley said, “This incidence is not just an inter-community conflict”. He added, “flags of another country are not waved and pictures of convicts given death sentence not displayed during skirmish between two religious communities”. When will the Congress and the UPA see the writing on the wall and act in the best interests of the nation and the state?      

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