Mehbooba has many things to say. Some views nationalistic, others for Kashmir
#Opinion #News Puneet G
India TVs Aap Ki Adalat has been one of the longest running series in the history of Indian television and is hosted by India TV Chairman and Editor in Chief, Rajat Sharma. The sets of Aap Ki Adalat were recently graced by PDP President Mehbooba Mufti and quite frankly, the lady is clear in her vision and cool as a cucumber, qualities that are much required of a leader. Without much ado, I will get down to the highlights of this very interesting one hour on television.
The Role of The Army
On the one hand, AFSPA and the removal of Army and everything that revolves around this highly debated topic was something that Sharma brought up and Mehbooba Mufti held her ground here. Mehbooba has strong and clear views on defining the role of the army in Kashmir again. She credited the Army’s work during the floods and after where the Army not only helped save people during the deluge but has also has been helping rebuilding life in the valley. “The army has helped rebuild buildings, schools, bridges and what not but its role needs to be redefined now.”
She added, “The Army was much needed in the 90s when militancy had peaked but now the situation is different with the insurgency having waned down to militants once in thousands to just 200 now.” The topic of AFSPA revocation had generated a lot of magma and then back to back attacks in Kathua and Samba had forced the PDP to put their demand on the back burner. However, Mufti did hint at the slow phasing out of AFSPA where in she suggested that all the major parties including Congress, National Conference, PDP, CPI(M) and BJP are in favour of revoking AFSPA and return of land unauthorisedly occupied by security forces.
“The army now needs to go to their barracks and on the borders. Our police is well equipped to counter terrorism. We can build beautiful parks in the places like Tattoo Grounds, which the Army has occupied currently.”
How she spoke of this opinion of the BJP is something that would be a curious thing to factify.
She however maintained that AFSPA will not be diluted immediately and needs careful meditation. Curiously, she also suggested that militants and the separatists are the ones who want AFSPA to remain the most. Ideally, if AFSPA remains, the collective hate for the Army remains and this is the fuel that powers the engines of Militants and the Separatists. If AFSPA is removed, the militants will have nothing to promote hate for and thus Mehbooba suggested that the militants do 3-4 major incidences.
Mehbooba was quick to add however, “If the situation deteriorates in the valley, we (PDP) do not have to take permission from anyone to reinstate it (AFSPA).”
She did highlight the much talked about fact where after the flash floods last year, the locals wanted the monetary help coming through the Army and not via local officials as people trusted the Army for their unconditional help during the floods.
She then couterbalanced, “The locals do have a good image of the Army but when incidents like Tral happen where innocents die, the Army gets cast in a dark shadow.”
The media may have highlighted the recent flying of Pakistan flags by Masarat Alam in a rally that was organized to welcome Geelani but Mehbooba thinks that this event was blown out of proportion for TRPs. She said, “There was a time 20 years back, when thousands of Pakistan flags would be posted on top of houses in Kashmir and this time just one rally happened and you (the media) presented it as if a reprise of insurgency was on the cards. The separatists need publicity to remain necessary and that is precisely the platform that the media provided.”
What Mehbooba says here makes sense because whether or not the Indian population in general wants to believe that a political process has begun, it has. The record mandate during the recent elections is testimony to the fact that the jobless and frustrated Kashmiris are looking for a peace process. They realise that the separatists have only given them hopes all these years without actually having achieved something.
She said, “If Alam made the anti-India slogans, he is behind the bars and we are allowing for the law to take its course. We released him only because the Indian Law could not hold him back anymore and he had the entitlement to be released.”
Tourism in Kashmir has taken a hit for many years from 2008 riots to 2009 rage turning into 2010 riots that killed 120 people and then the Violence between the Langar wallahs and Tent wallahs to finally the valley collapsing in the floods last year.
Mehbooba said, “just when the tourism season began, the Tral incident happened and the Media promoted a boiling Kashmir.”
Answering to Rajat Sharma’s questions she said, “The buildings, the hotels, the workshops will take time to be restored but when the Indian tourist comes, it means daily bread to the workers and others who rely on tourism for their livelihoods. When you (Media) show that Kashmir is boiling, large scale cancellations happen and the state is hit.”
Mehbooba does not think that the BJP should go on the defensive because of political pressures. If they (BJP) think that the alliance is for the betterment of the state, then they have nothing to fear. She also wants the Kashmiri Pandits who want to come back to the valley to not live in isolation as according to her, they would be sitting ducks for any kind of attacks.
“My Brothers and Sisters (Kashmiri Pandits) should stay among us, as members of the same family”
With inputs from Aap Ki Adalat, India TV teleserial.