Let it be admitted that this columnist was from the start averse to the BJP joining hands with the PDP to form a government in Jammu & Kashmir. Instead of securing a few puny ministerships, had the party opted to be in the opposition and allowed a combination of the PDP, the National Conference and the Congress party to take over in Srinagar, very soon public opinion would have turned against such an alliance, and in the mid-term elections that would almost certainly follow, the BJP may have secured just enough seats in Kashmir to come to power on its own. With every year that passes, the attractiveness of Pakistan as an alternative to Indian statehood is getting reduced, so much so that apart from Syed Ali Shah Geelani and a few others loyal to the salt which nourishes them, most of those whose occupation it is to protest against the rest of India, work on the basis the desirable option is a level of autonomy sufficient to ensure total Wahhabisation. Such individuals are not satisfied with the partial Wahhabisation that has been implemented in Jammu & Kashmir since the Congress party allowed Sheikh Abdullah in 1947 to take over as Prime Minister, later on being turfed out, but thereafter displacing secular predecessors, who, had they continued, would have ensured the extinguishing of the unreal hope that the state could, through unrest or rebellion, win an overwhelmingly Wahhabised governance structure that would be independent of the Central government in every particular barring the formal.
Unfortunately for the people of the state and for the rest of the country, the 15% or so of the population that are partial or total Wahhabis is the only segment taken into account by both the media as well as the Central government. Of course, such a disastrous concession to a fundamentally undemocratic group has since been justified on the grounds first of “secularism” and now on the grounds of “pragmatism”. The BJP argues that its presence in the state government ensures that the state “does not slip into anarchy”. The Ministry of Home Affairs, which is historically known for neglecting societal sores until they turn cancerous, apparently believes that the presence of a BJP Deputy Chief Minister and miscellaneous ministers from the party is sufficient to ensure that Srinagar keep to the path of fealty to the Constitution of India. The MHA has, therefore, outsourced to J&K BJP ministers its job of ensuring adherence within the ruling structure of Kashmir to the political and governance principles ensuring the unity of this country. This despite the fact that from the start, these necessary principles have been ignored by the Wahhabis and their backers within the inner recesses of the governance mechanism of the state. Despite having only a slightly higher number of seats than the BJP, the PDP has arrogated to itself about 90% of the effective powers of the state government, of course in the name of “secularism” and “pragmatism”. Such an abdication of responsibility by the country’s ruling party would, it was calculated, “heal tensions and cool down passions”. In fact, the reverse has taken place.
According to the Muftis and the Abdullahs, the Wahhabis are the only segment of J&K society that need “healing”. The fact is that it is the rest of the population which has been ravaged by this medieval force, and which needs the sympathetic attention and “healing”, which till now has been denied by successive governments that have competed with each other to grovel at the doors of the Wahhabi grandees. None of these seem to do any work barring periodic calls to create chaos, although all of whom seem to be very well off, with the Income-Tax authorities clearly not looking their way. More than verbal tributes to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, what is needed is to ensure that the warnings of that prescient leader be taken seriously and at least some of his prescriptions get followed in Jammu & Kashmir, especially autonomy from Srinagar for Jammu and Ladakh. It is striking that the many politicians who swear by secularism seem oblivious of the fact that the principle has been absent in J&K since Jawaharlal Nehru decided that even accession to India was less important than ensuring the primacy of Sheikh Abdullah over the state. Indira Gandhi persisted with her father’s policy of coddling the Sheikh, while Rajiv briefly rebelled against one wing of the family, that led by Farooq Abdullah, in the process supporting a closet Wahhabi, G.M. Shah, who accelerated the process that saw the state plunging into terror within years of his rule. The Muftis too believe that the only segment that needs coddling is the Wahhabi fringe. Such persistent appeasement of a fringe should be halted. Instead, what is needed is to put on a flight to Lahore sans passport Geelani and those who swear loyalty to Pakistan. Such firmness may cause short-term problems but in the longer term, it will ensure the stability and secularism in Kashmir that has been denied the state till now because of a consistent policy of appeasing the fringe at the cost of the bulk of the population of the state.