Power, popularity and riches came heaping on Farooq Abdullah as the body of his late father Sheikh Abdullah was downed to lay into eternal rest close to the Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar. Father’s massive socio-political legacy and abounding support from Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, were strong factors to shut the mouth of critics and political opponents to Farooq when he stepped into the shoes of his late father with hardly established criterion of an Indian politician.
Along with other traits of character, Farooq has inherited eccentricity as well, which remained with him all his life. He could be whimsical, capricious, and fanciful. But very few people know that he has a method in madness. The Farsi proverb ‘diwana ba kaar-i khud hoshyar‘ very eloquently explains his psyche. In simple translation, it could be ‘a distraught man watchful of his self-interests’.
He became the chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir thrice with the outright support of Congress. He has a history of being on and off the Congress bandwagon. He could endear himself to Atal Bihari Vajpayee who picked him up as his cabinet member to soft-paddle with his Muslim constituency. At one time, he had great expectations that the Congress would nominate him as its candidate as Vice President of India. That did not happen but the BJP inducted his son into the Council of Ministers.
Congress raised the profile of the house of the Sheikh to such heights that people in Kashmir said that the Dogra ruling dynasty was replaced by the Sheikdom of Kashmir. These favours and privileges were strong enough to turn the head of Farooq, who has now given up his weirdness and eccentricity and is talking with a sense of deprivation and despondency.
Farooq Abdullah’s observations on the situation in Kashmir today as reported by the local print media evokes pity for the man who clings to political manoeuvring and power aspiration at the advanced age of 85. What is more, he says he has lost faith in India, her secularism, democratic dispensation, humanism and all that he has been praising and standing by during his long years in power. Most of his observations are focused on asserting that you are all the bad and I am all the good. The party holding power at New Delhi has come to power through due process of the constitution. When Farooq calls it a “communal and divisive force”, he is challenging the will of the majority of Indian voters. He betrays faithlessness in democracy. In such a situation how is he going to define his electoral victories in the elections in J&K especially that of 1986 which gave birth to MUF (Muslim United Front) and its aftermath?
What justification has Farooq to call BJP a communal government when in his government thousands of acres of forest and state land were grabbed under a controversial law called the Roshni Act and distributed among blued-eyed Kashmiris at throw-away price? What justification has he to call BJP a communal government and his a secular government when thousands of kanals of forest land was grabbed by his party stalwarts and mandarins clandestinely in Bhatindi and sold with the notification “only Muslims are allowed to apply for allotment”. The result is that Bhatindi is a mini-Pakistan where Farooq holds a patch of 25 kanals (nearly 3 acres) of this general loot. Again in the case of the Siddhra Colony, the Housing Department categorically stated that Kashmiri Muslims would be given preferential treatment.
Farooq and Kashmir leadership embraced communalism and carried the coffin of democracy on their shoulders the day when thousands of Rohingyas were officially re-settled in Jammu along the international border and were provided with facilities like ration cards, aadhaar cards, identity cards, water and power supply etc. all contrary to the then provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution. Farooq cannot accuse BJP of communalism when the PDP government withdrew the Jammu police investigating staff from investigating a criminal case in Kathua and brought the Muslim police staff from Kashmir to conduct the investigation. When Farooq’s goons misbehaved and manhandled the ED staff, including a lady officer, that had arrived from New Delhi to investigate the tax evasion by some big business magnates in Srinagar, his government had sown the seeds for the abrogation of the special status of J&K. Farooq has no ground for making any complaint.
Farooq Abdullah laments that the “Kashmiri youth feel they have no place in modern India and have lost faith in the government in Delhi. I think the tragedy is that every Muslim, whether he belongs to Kashmir or the rest of India, has to continuously prove that he is a nationalist, that he is an Indian. Why? Why can’t it be done for the others? Why can’t they ask the Hindus, ‘Are you Indians?” Farooq should not have said misleading words like these.
Instead, he should have made a moment’s introspection and asked his self why did thousands of Kashmiri youth choose to cross the border clandestinely to go to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), get themselves enrolled in terrorist camps established by the Pakistan Army, receive training and arms and indoctrination and return to the valley at the risk of their lives and raise the banner of armed insurgency. Farooq should have introspected how his party cadre, colleagues and selected bureaucracy covertly and overtly supported armed insurgency and subverted national interests.
Farooq should have introspected how he and his party seniors meticulously avoided criticizing the gun-wielding Kashmiris rising in an insurgency, massacring the Kashmiri Pandit community, looting their vacated homes and grabbing their properties. He should have ruminated how he subtly encouraged alienation of the vast masses of Kashmiri people by telling them that the Pandits left homes and hearths on the call of Governor Jagmohan. A leader of his stature should have been true to his conscience and spoken the truth not falsehood. Had he not ordered the release of about 50 Kashmiri boys who had returned after training in terrorism and were facing prosecution? They included murderers like Bitta Karate who said in a televised interview that after killing 22 Kashmiri Pandits, he had lost the count. Was not Farooq hand in glove with them?
He should ruminate how Kashmiri Muslims willingly offered the warmest hospitality to the terrorists from across the ceasefire line calling them “guest mujahid” and providing them with all comforts and guidance they needed. Did Farooq or any one party of the Gupkar Alliance obstruct these activities? Did they ever give a call to the people to refuse hospitality to the terrorists? Did he ever give a call for a mass protest against Pakistan sending armed gangsters to unleash mayhem in Kashmir? Did Farooq ever realize the consequences of government reacting to the armed insurgency and the segments of society that would be affected by the action of the security forces?
If Farooq felt no need at any point of time of taking even one of these steps, why does he now lament that Kashmiri youth feel they have no place in India? It is not the Kashmiri youth alone, it is the Kashmiri of any age who will not find a place for himself in India as long as he carries the Pakistan-provided gun on his shoulders. This applies to the Gupkar Alliance members also.
Farooq Abdullah has raised another question. Let us quote him precisely. He says, “Today, every Muslim, whether he belongs to Kashmir or the rest of India, has to “continuously prove” that he is a nationalist despite his community having shed blood for the country”. Who else but Farooq knows the precise answer to that question? But since providing the answer publicly does not suit his political interests, he will not touch on it. The entire history of terrorism in Kashmir shows that only the Muslims have been the insurgents, accomplices, over or underground conduits, carriers of secret messages and weapons and all that armed insurgency needs. Those providing safe heavens to the terrorists, guiding them across the forests and uncommon routes, providing them intelligence about the police force’s movements or the movement of the security forces, plotting subversion, coming out in thousands as stone-pelting youth and slogan mongering etc. all have been Muslims. Those who have been apprehended by the police while trying to cross the border clandestinely have been Muslims. What has Farooq to say about that?
Farooq has rejected the report of the delimitation commission. There are other groups also who have rejected it for various reasons. We have nothing to say about that. But Farooq has raised the question of why the Kashmiri Pandit and Kashmir Sikh’s demand reservation of seats has not been included in the report. The pot calling the kettle black. Did Farooq during his three stints in office as chief minister ever speak a word about the rights of or reservation for the religious minority of Pandits and Sikhs? Never. Not only that. Twice did the Chairman of the Minorities Commission of India write to him (when he was a chief minister) to recommend to the Home Ministry that the Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs should be categorized as minorities in the J&K. Farooq never responded.
When late Mufti Saeed and PM Modi announced after a joint meeting in Delhi the question of the return of the Pandits under the clauses of the Memorandum of Alliance, a total and unprecedented strike was observed in Srinagar for one full day against the announcement. Not only that in the legislative assembly, NC and PDP members jointly clashed with BJP members and came to blows when the former threatened that never will a single Pandit be allowed to return. A general secretary of the National Conference is on record to have said that “if Pandits are allowed to return, each Pandit will bring with him three Israelis”.
We learn that these days some NC activists are approaching the Kashmiri migrants in Jammu directly or indirectly to mollify them into joining hands with NC in the contemplated elections to the assembly. No Kashmiri Pandit worth his salt is going to join hands with those who are accomplices in their genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Farooq says that Muslims have given blood for India and today nationalism of the Muslims is questioned. How many Muslims of Kashmir sacrificed their lives during the thirty years of the NC-led movement against the Dogra autocratic rule? How many of his party workers were killed? Let Farooq compare the numbers with the number of Muslims gunned down by the guest mujahids in Kashmir on charges of being spies (mukhbir). The numbers will speak out the truth.
In the final analysis, what ails Farooq and what makes him lament for the Muslim community of India and not only Kashmir is something else. The dirge is not only of Farooq Abdullah but of all those who refuse to read the writing on the wall, those who want to turn the face away from the realities of history. Farooq laments the loss of Sheikhdom forgetting that if the Duggar Raj could not last beyond the fourth generation, how can the Sheikhdom last beyond the third generation.
The reality is that the Islamic theo-fascism, which sustained the separatist movement in Kashmir and behind which Farooq & Co walked with full expectations, has received a fatal blow from the fountain-head of Islamic authority in Riyadh. Prince Salman has come out as the prophet of deep and drastic reformation of Islam and the ummah. After banning the Tablighi Jama’at, the group that was generously promoted by the regime of Sheikh Abdullah in 1980-81, the violence-loving and terror-adoring Islamic states, organizations and individuals find their spinal cord broken and wrecked. The political Islam that was employed to befool the unsuspecting Muslim masses only for self-aggrandizement has no option but to wind up its shop. Islam is entering a new phase of inclusiveness, openness and universal brotherhood. It wants to deal with its adversaries also based on equality and justice. Prince Salman is trying to replace Islamophobia with Islamic rationale. Farooq Abdullah is a modern man and has seen life in its various forms. He must welcome the rising and outreaching Islam and disassociate himself with the political Islam of the ignorant mullahs. Alas! He has thrown the Gupkar albatross around his neck and is now crying at the world in frustration.