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2 Years On: Uncertainty Over the Valley

August 05, 2021 06:53 IST
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The political script for pre-2019 politics has gone with the wind and the writers of the new script seem in no great hurry to oblige the tormented, observes Mohammad Sayeed Malik, the distinguished commentator on Kashmir affairs.

IMAGE: Security personnel in Srinagar stand guard at the site of an attack on Central Reserve Police Force troopers. Photograph: Danish Ismail/Reuters

The political disequilibrium set off across Jammu and Kashmir by the August 5, 2019 politico-Constitutional implosion continues to produce tremors across various spheres of public life.

The ordinary citizen is baffled and frightened by the flood of torrential daily official announcements, and orders touching upon each and every sphere of personal and public life.

The promised restoration of statehood to the Union Territory of J&K, if and when it actually comes, is not likely to address most of these concerns, worries and anxieties.

At this stage, the only thing looking to be clear is that fullscale statehood to J&K is not even a distant probability.

Some even say that the pattern, if and when brought into existence, could be more or less like that of the Constitutional structure of Delhi state.

Mainstream politics has been in the doldrums for the past two years. Though apparently organisations do exist, they are beset with an uncertain future.

The August 5, 2019 action virtually pulled the rug from under their feet leaving them hanging in the air. Their edifice as also their political programme, though shaded differently, drew its lifeblood from the Constitutional special status of the state that has been hammered into dust.

Their future has a big question mark hanging over it; not only in respect of their future political prospects and programmes, but also their very existence in the drastically changed rules of the game.

The next major development awaited in the political circles is the outcome of the assembly (constituencies) delimitation now underway. Almost each and every major player in the game betrays deep anxieties on this account.

The arithmetic of political power is bound to be substantially changed because of this factor.

In the earlier arrangement, the Kashmir Valley enjoyed a numerical advantage that is poised to either get neutralised or be rendered ineffective as and when the State Delimitation Commission decided its final recommendations.

Uncertainty on this account has effectively hamstrung mainstream politics as well as its practitioners, now into their third or second generation of the abrogated Constitutional processes.

No doubt, their Gupkar Alliance did manage to jump into the fray and participate in the recent district level polls and come up with substantial popular support, but that hasn't helped them in consolidating ground level gain. Their immediate electoral gains were largely consumed by patronised political manipulations.

The pro-establishment groups, however, are bending over backwards to demonstrate their relevance in filling up the vacuum on the ground.

Hectic surface activity does give the impression of things moving on the ground. But one does not have to dip too deep to detect its superficiality in the overall context.

Their might was tested in the district level polls and the outcome conformed to the general impression that it is not -- at least not yet -- all that easy to totally sideline the erstwhile mainstream element, much less to see its back for good.

That, however, in no way means that the old order is fighting fit or that it is invincible.

The history of Kashmir is replete with all sorts of surprises. Regime after regime has come up and gone out of existence without any trace.

Essentially, that is a post-1953 phenomenon. It was in that year that the first and the deadliest assault was mounted upon Article 370 and its politico-Constitutional symbols along with its 'special status' superstructure.

The BJP was openly committed to performing this demolition act and it did it with consummate skill accompanied by shock and awe.

Intended or unintended, the resultant disequilibrium today engulfs not only the political arena, but covers the entire gamut of daily life.

Suddenly, the political climate has changed and brought in its wake quite a few unfamiliar phenomenon fraught with all sorts of fears and anxieties.

Its unpredictability seems worse than that of the Valley's pleasant but notoriously fickle weather.

Surprisingly, New Delhi seems to be in no hurry even after having released almost all the top leaders of the mainstream parties and let them move around.

Their plight is unenviable. The old order on the ground is gone beyond sight and the new terrain is yet to be laid out.

The political script for pre-2019 politics has gone with the wind and the writers of the new script seem in no great hurry to oblige the tormented.

The official mass media as well as the local press have got used to marketing the available stuff because the quantity seems to have replaced the quality in disseminating 'news and views' for mass consumption.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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