SRINAGAR: A picture of Narendra Modi hugging Mufti Sayed was splashed all over the media just before the swearing in of the new PDP-BJP government in J & K. It represented something like a Bear Hug! The very first hug of these two ideologically opposed leaders seemed an uneasy one and not a normally warm human hug! The picture reminded one of the very common Kashmiri proverb, “Kakun Haaputh”! The story is about a father and a son going into woods and then getting separated. Suddenly, the father hears cries of his son calling him to save him. The father asks what has happened. The son agonisingly cries back that a bear has hugged him. The father shouts, leave the bear. The son shouts back, father I am trying to leave it but it is not leaving me!

There were a lot of expectations both developmental and political. The moot point is whether the hug was really a positive bear hug and a lasting one and is any of the two leaders really acting as the proverbial bear? Both leaders took a pretty long time in preparing to hug each other. If one minutely observes the facial expression of the two leaders, it appears that Mufti Sayed was not very comfortable in hugging Narendra Modi who on the contrary seems happy and contented. While as Modi is holding him tightly in terms of a true bear hug, Mufti Sayed’s hands are open! It may appear that the proverbial bear is Modi but on second thoughts after seeing the recent happenings, the reverse seems more plausible! Especially the uproar and subsequent threats to leave coalition followed by a climb down makes one think that it is now Modi who will be unable to un-hug himself from Mufti Sayed!

Having kept the controversial issues of the north and the south pole on a temporary hold, the first and foremost need of the people in the Valley was not only rehabilitation and restoration after the most devastating flood of the century but the fool-proof prevention of future floods and the perennial water-logging of most of the city and other areas.

There have been many plans including some with the help of Asian Development Bank executed through the Economic Reconstruction Agency for some of these projects. Unfortunately except a few, most of the projects get allotted or sub-let to small contractors for financial and political gains. The result is disastrous implementation and management of these projects whether connected with drainage, road construction and so on.

There were many possibilities in the sphere of good governance and development in all the three regions of the state. The million dollar question was whether the present set up clobbered together after putting a temporary lid on some very controversial and disruptive issues could firmly put its feet on the ground and get a strong hold on the situation. Unfortunately, the reverse seems to be happening.

One after the other controversial issues are being deliberately propped up. The return of Pandits has been hanging fire for last 20 years while the West Pakistan refugees have been waiting for more than 60 years! The refugee issue is more volatile than the Pandit issue. However, the Pandit issue is more sensitive in regard to the Valley. There seems to be deliberate attempt to inflame the sentiments and passions.

Normally, the two sides should have gone full steam ahead for rehabilitation and restoration. The infrastructure is in shambles. In fact, one of the Bollywood heroes recently remarked that Kashmir has everything except the infrastructure!

The three most important and urgent tasks to be taken in hand were restoration, rehabilitation and construction of standard basic infrastructure. This had to be married to less harassment by the men in uniform. The first is moving only at snails pace while the daily harassment of Kashmiris continues.