Former chief ministers of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state - Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti, did not extend Republic Day greetings to people in what has been construed to be a strange gesture. Is it that these leaders, who held highest office in J&K in the past, want to send a message that they are unhappy or is it that they want to appease adversaries?
Since the day the Centre abrogated J&K’s special status, these leaders have been behaving like ‘rebels’. They seem to have forgotten the perks and privileges they have enjoyed all throughout their lives provided by New Delhi, and even today they continue to enjoy all the facilities that are provided by the Centre. By not extending greetings to the people on the occasion of 72nd Republic Day, these leaders have once again proved their critics correct that they cannot be trusted as they don’t know whom to side with.
After August 5, 2019—when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories—mainstream politicians like Abdullahs and Muftis have been left issueless. During all these years, they kept on raising slogans like autonomy and self-rule. Their politics revolved around the issues that had got nothing to do with peace, prosperity, development and governance.
As chief ministers, Farooq, Omar and Mufti took salute at Republic Day main functions and even chaired the meetings of Unified Command of the security forces. They had no problem in calling themselves nationalists when they were reaping the fruits of power but after being ousted from their offices, they are shying away from even greeting the people on one of the most important occasions of the country.
Their silence, however, has hardly made a difference in “Naya Jammu and Kashmir” as young activists appeared at many places in the Valley to celebrate the 72nd Republic Day. They hoisted the National Flag and distributed sweets. Young people coming out in the open is a clear indication that times have changed and fear of the gun is disappearing fast. The former J&K chief ministers should take a cue from these youngsters, who without any security cover, moved around in the Valley to hoist the tricolour and greet people.
Mainstream politicians in Kashmir should realize that if they continue to act strangely, people will reject them. In fact, these leaders have already faced rejection. After their arrest on August 5, 2019, not a single protest was staged anywhere in J&K to seek their release. Common people just turned their backs towards these leaders. People who used to claim that these leaders have no mass following were vindicated.
Mainstream politicians in Kashmir at present are caught in a quandary and they are looking for ways and means to once again make a comeback. It appears they are in a dilemma. But these leaders should bear one thing in mind that in “New India” there is no place for people who even show slight inclination towards separatism. The young leaders in Jammu and Kashmir are leading from the front by holding tricolour close to their heart and by sending a message that J&K is an integral part of India.
Ones who are not fitting into “Naya Jammu and Kashmir” will automatically turn into mute spectators and the time can come when they will have to say goodbye to politics and look for some other profession.
The time is running out for the former rulers of Jammu and Kashmir. They have to muster courage and acknowledge that being a nationalist is the only way out. They can no more tell people in New Delhi that they are Indians by conviction and tell the people in Srinagar that Kashmir has to be settled.
They have to draw a line if they want to get any role in the near future. Being ambiguous and not having courtesy to greet people on the occasion of Republic Day is not going to help them. “Naya J&K” is moving at a fast pace and if the people like Abdullahs and Muftis go out of the race no one will even bother.