No light at the end of the Kashmir tunnel in foreseeable future
Normalcy in the valley was a chimera for decades, so we must learn to live with it. The European Union multiparty delegation of MPs has come and gone, adding another footnote to the ongoing Kashmir saga following the excision of Article 370. In the clashing perceptions in the global capitals, we seem to be telling Pakistan that India is no longer a pushover---- which it was after Nehru committed to a plebiscite and then hummed and hawed, but realizing his folly never got round to fulfilling the promise. Only a few days earlier, Pakistan had taken a visiting US Senator on a guided tour of POK. We did better taking a busload of European MPs from different parties and different countries to Kashmir.
But however important the global opinion, it cannot compensate for the lack of `normalcy’ in Kashmir. Though the notion of normalcy in the case of Kashmir cannot be the same as, say, in the case of Mumbai or Chennai simply because things have never been normal as we understand it for over three decades. The ethnic cleansing of Pandits under the nose of Rajiv Gandhi marked the end of what was till then near-normalcy in the Valley. Those who cry themselves hoarse over the communalisation of politics pretend to be blind to the stark fact that Kashmir, when all is said and done, is at its core a communal issue. The Muslim-majority Kashmir has been a thorn in the Indian side since they divided the subcontinent on Hindu-Muslim lines. It wasn’t done by the RSS-BJP-VHP-Shiv Sena combine. The culprit was the one whose leaders are now shedding tears, crocodile, of course, about the denial of human rights to Kashmiris.
To tell the truth, whether it was in the pre-militancy period or after, I have always found locals in Srinagar referring to India as if it was a foreign country. ‘Aap key Hindustan mein…. or aap Hindustan mein kahan sey aaye ho?’ So, let us be clear. Kashmir was not normal before August 5 but the junking of Article 370 has given the ISI-instigated people yet another grievance to their long litany of woes against what ordinary Kashmiris call India, suggesting it was an occupying force.
Sheikh Abdullah feigned friendship with India so long he was in power. Out of power he breathed secession. He didn’t throw his lot with Pakistan fearing he will be marginalized. His successors have walked in his footsteps. Other Kashmir leaders are no different from the Abdullahs. We have poured billions and stationed a huge contingent of military and paramilitary forces in the vale of blood. On the day Kashmir became a Union Territory it was revealed that its budget is in several multiples of all the union territories combined.
So let me come to the point. Kashmir will not see normalcy as we understand it in the foreseeable future. It may well return to the sham normalcy seen in the UPA years when the permanent ruling elite in Srinagar had its snouts in the national trough. The Abdullahs compete with the Mayawatis and Mulayams when it comes to assets acquired illicitly. Aside from everything else, the Modi crackdown has at least put a stop to money-making by the parasitical Kashmiri class which was under the illusion that it alone has the license to speak for their compatriots.
There are three ways that suggest themselves for what can be called the Kashmir solution. One, India vacates the space for ISI agents to rule the roast. Two, Kashmiris get weary of being pawns in the hands of the ISI. Three, India and Pakistan resume talks. The first two are sheer day-dreams. The third is doable only in case Pakistan realizes that Modi has a firmer and stronger spine than the Shara –al-Sheikh Manmohan Singh who conceded India was messing in Baluchistan.
In one word, we are in for a long haul in Kashmir. Normalcy is not returning to Kashmir in a long time, especially when the jihadis kill innocent wage labourers from Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Himachal, West Bengal. Before they shed crocodile tears over the plight of well-cosseted Kashmiris, the bleeding heart liberals should wipe the tears of the widows, mothers, children et al, whose breadwinners were gunned down by the barbarians in the name of ‘azadi’.
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Whatsapp compromised but privacy hard to preserve
The last frontier of social media privacy has fallen. No surprise, the Israelis punctured Whatsapp’s claim to fame of private messaging and internet telephony. The Israel group NSO developed the spyware. It can read your messages and hear your conversations. Jihadis have reason to be worried more than us ordinary mortals. The Taliban carry out barbaric missions pinpointing for their savage slaves the next target.
But a bigger surprise is the list of Indians on the watch list. Among the 17, a majority are low-key ultra-left activists, some of whom known sympathisers of Maoists/Naxals. Cases of sedition are pending against some of them. Why would Facebook, which owns Whatsapp, be interested in these people remains unclear. Unless the breach took place at the instance of a third party. We can speculate about the identity of the third party but will refrain from naming it.
Meanwhile, among the seventeen targeted for snooping is my old friend Santosh Bhartiya, editor of a Hindi weekly. Why would anyone want to compromise his privacy is beyond comprehension---- unless there is something I am not privy to. A much bigger surprise, of course, is the absence of the five-star human rights activists who regularly hold forth on the wickedness of the Indian State which rides roughshod over the fundamental rights of people be it in Kashmir or other parts of Modi’s New India. They must protest against this deliberate slight to their self-perceived public image. Facebook has dented their self-promoted image as human rights warriors who nonetheless get compensated generously for their efforts by various foreign-based NGOs. Remember how some years ago some of these same human rights entrepreneurs were wined and dined by a Washington-based `intellectual’ until his cover as a fully-paid ISI agent was blown by the Americans. Among them were a number of journalists who, regardless, continue to peddle their one-sided craft.
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Kejriwal deserves Bharat Ratna for making false claims
And you thought the menace of pollution had been vanquished from Delhi by the one and only Arvind Kejriwal, the self-glorifying magician par excellence. In the pre-Diwali media blitz, which cost us suckers condemned to live in the capital a pretty penny, he claimed that the crusade against pollution had been won. But this year despite a `green’ Diwali the air quality index recorded new highs. So much then for those tall claims in full-page ads.
But our Sheikh Chilli CM is hard to admit defeat. The blame lies with the governments in Haryana, UP and Punjab, says the AAP Fuhrer. Experts insist at best only thirty-five percent blame lies with those in the neighbouring States burning farm waste to prepare the fields for the next sowing. Local factors accounted for twice the pollutant matter floating in the Delhi air. Besides, if those States are guilty, why should air quality in Bhatinda, Ludhiana be better than in Delhi?
I have a suggestion. Since he is distributing all manner of freebies, he must undertake to supply large canisters of oxygen to every home to be replaced daily by a mobile service run by AAP members with funds from the Delhi Government. At least this winter Kejriwal can spare the funds for this noble project to protect the Delhiites from the killer air. By the time next winter comes, the Assembly poll would be behind him and he can abandon this and all other freebies.
The facts and views expressed in the article are those of the writer.