Who Shut Which Door Mr Drabu?
NEW DELHI: Dear Mr Haseeb Drabu,
It's so good to read of your concern about Kashmiriyat and Insaniyat. I had thought over the past two months that you and your party, the Peoples Democratic Party, had completely forgotten about such values when you stayed inside your houses while your people were killed and maimed by your guns. Of course, I know that you must have been extremely busy working out strategy, to ensure your survival, even as Kashmir was burning around you.
You are upset that Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani closed his doors to the visiting MPs who dared cross your security arrangements, to knock at his gate. And that of other separatist leaders including the two---Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik---lodged under your hospitality, in your jails where I am sure Kashmiri culture is alive and kicking.
However, from what I have read of what the four leaders---Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Yadav, D.Raja, Jaiprakash Yadav--- said they had not expected the cup of tea you are so incensed about. They had defied, like I said your amazing values (can’t say that these are a testimony to the Kashmiriyat you so copiously cry for now) evident in your security bandobast, to visit the Hurriyat leaders and signal to the people of Kashmir that unlike the government in power, they are indeed concerned and worried. I wonder why you did not walk across and knock on Geelani’s gates, or invite the separatist leaders for the kehwa that is so linked with Kashmiri hospitality earlier in all the months and weeks you had in government. And waited instead for Opposition MPs to do what the Kashmiris expected from you.
Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of the CPI(M), somehow does not seem to share your concern about the ageing Hurriyat leader. In fact he, and the others with him, did not appear to be dismayed with the response and went on to say, even after the gates failed to open, "We are hopeful that something positive will happen. Our signal to the people of Kashmir is that we have come here to share their pain. We have gone out of our way to meet the Hurriyat leaders.” And, as Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav said, they are all quite prepared to keep coming back until Geelani agrees to meet them. This by the way is real politics, and not figments pieced together in sanctuaries of power.
It’s strange that the Opposition MPs from different parts of mainland India seem to know more about Kashmir than you Mr Drabu, despite you being part of the government now and being a Kashmiri too. They expected the closed door, and, while a little disappointed, realised that Geelani had his own compulsions, and needed to prepare for any such visit. Their parties here in Delhi are clear that their MPs did not go looking for kehwa and biscuits, but had taken the firm decision to meet the separatists to “share the pain” inflicted on the people through the past weeks, and do this despite the propaganda they expected you to unleash, (as you are of course doing now).
For you and those you represent Mr Drabu pain too is exclusive. For you, and others with you in the seat of power, like to decide who should feel the pain, and who should not. For you the Kashmiri values are bereft of the people, otherwise you would not have been sittting for two months in government while young kids were being hit and maimed around you. You would have demanded the immediate withdrawal of pellet guns at least, as soon as these were used---actually even before they were used but that is clearly asking for far too much----and resigned, when the centre did not listen to you.
Did you open doors Mr Drabu to the Kashmiri youth? Doors are not always physical as the closed doors at Geelani’s residence, doors can be shut far more forcefully and tightly without these even being visible to the ordinary eye. The finality of such shut doors is often devastating, as these lock out people desperately searching for a crack, so that their voices are heard; and foreclose all options except violennce..When a state government refuses to open the doors for its own people, how can you berate Geelani for failing to entertain those who were perceived as essentially your guests.
Mirwaiz and Yasin Malik, being politically more savvy insofar as the world outside Kashmir is concerned, had no hesitation in meeting the Opposition MPs but probably were not able to offer the usual Kashmiri hospitality as they were in jail. Of course some ignorant media has lamented that the Hurriyat did not agree to ‘talks’, but surely dialogue was not on anyone’s agenda.
Not even on yours Mr Drabu, as the last minute invitation sent to leaders in detention by your Chief Minister (perhaps on your advise as you seem to be a powerful man in the current dispensation) was certainly not intended as a serious gesture. It was to draw a denial, so that you and others in the BJP and PDP could then put the onus on the separatists for not being interested in a dialogue. And show up the Opposition MPs visit as wasted.
What I wonder is why are you doing this? What purpose does it serve? If the Opposition can open a few doors, and create new opportunities ---it is of course at the moment a very big ‘if’--- why does it worry you so much? To a point where you are using half truths to support a propagated premise that is not really rooted in reality. The truth is based on just 3 points in the public domain that you and others with you have been trying to distort:
- Opposition MPs went to call on the separatist leaders without any expectations;
- The visit was to send out a signal to the Kashmiris that they are not as alone and isolated as they are being made to feel by you and your allies but there are mainstream political parties and people in India who share their pain;
- And the concern comes out of a realisation that the way out is through unconditional dialogue.
So introspect for a while Mr Drabu. Who shut what doors, should perhaps be the first question you should answer for yourself.
And of course, to test your Kashmiriyat I will certainly be knocking at your door for that cup of kehwa when next in Srinagar.
A Concerned Citizen
(Photograph Basit Zargar)