Does anybody know where Mehbooba Mufti is?

Naseer Ganai
Naseer GanaiJul 27, 2015 | 19:38

Does anybody know where Mehbooba Mufti is?

Former chief of RAW, India's spy agency, AS Dulat, is a hot topic in Kashmir these days. Since Dulat has named many people who matter in the Valley in his book, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, readers are curious to know what he has said about them.

Dulat described Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Sajad Gani Lone as future leaders of Kashmir. But even this revelation couldn't awake Mehbooba Mufti. Everyone who has been named in the book has reacted to it but Mehbooba continues to remain silent. Even Dulat's taunt that Mehbooba is a bit "quirky" couldn't elicit any reaction from her.

Five months have passed since the Peoples Democratic Party and the BJP entered into an alliance. Such is the impact of this that the PDP president, who was known for interacting with the media, addressing people, issuing statements, has all of a sudden disappeared from newspapers, both local and national.

Before the PDP's alliance with the BJP, Mehbooba's statements would be prominently published by newspapers in Srinagar and most of the time on their front pages. Now her statements are not even on the back pages of newspapers. The only reason is that she no longer issues statements, gives interviews and addresses people.

In Srinagar where rumours travel faster than bullet trains, there is not even a rumour about Mehbooba Mufti. And that is dangerous sign.

Here politicians want people to gossip about them, to talk about them, to write about them. They should be curious where they are and whom they are meeting. But in the case of Mehbooba Mufti there is not even a murmur.

Incidentally, people do talk about National Conference president Omar Abdullah. On social networking sites Sajad Lone and his ministry of Animal Husbandry continues to be an issue of debate. And on social media Mirwaiz Umar Farooq created a flutter recently with his picture during a reception at Pakistani High Commission going viral. In the picture Mirwaiz was standing among beautiful women and many netizens wondered why. They invoked religion to criticise Mirwaiz.

These days Omar Abdullah tweets about everything except Shashi Tharoor. If Omar Abdullah is not tweeting, he starts writing. After his defeat in the 2014 Assembly polls Abdullah writes so much that some reporters in Srinagar are feeling real competition.

As for Dulat's book, within days Omar was ready with his review. PDP said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would announce an economic package and Omar was ready with sarcasm: "He (Modi) promised all possible help and then went the extra mile by promising the government in Muzaffarabad (across the Line of Control) all assistance in rebuilding their part of Kashmir that had been hit by floods as well. All I can say is that with hindsight I'm glad they didn't accept the offer because they'd still be waiting."

Sajad Lone is always in the news whether he speaks or not. If he is not in the news, his ministry is. Since day one when he became an ally of the BJP, Lone would retweet Turkish proverbs. But people are more curious about his Kashmiri moves rather than Turkish proverbs. When he was given portfolio of ministry of Animal Husbandry it generated a lot of curiosity among Kashmiris. Finally Lone said he was happy with his ministry.He occasionally gives interviews which does make news. Lone created a storm recently by saying the RSS has every right to be in Kashmir if people accept them.

After facing onslaught on the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, an angry Lone accused media of misquoting him. Lone said he actually had stated RSS was in Kashmir much before of PDP-BJP coalition. "They have every right to come here if people accept them. What is the problem? It takes ages to make inroads. It's all propaganda," Lone said he stated all this in response to a question when asked whether the PDP-BJP coalition helped RSS to make inroads in Kashmir. Lone's interview was the subject of debate for several weeks.

Of the faces of the future nominated by Dulat, only Mehbooba Mufti is missing. She is neither on Facebook nor on Twitter. She neither convenes press conference nor interacts with journalists. She is not even addressing her workers. She doesn't even raise slogans of self-rule, LoC trade, or dialogue with Pakistan.

She seems to have run out of slogans from the time the PDP and the BJP joined hands. From 2002 to 2005 when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was in power, there was not much of money with the then government also. But there was a will to work. On the streets of Srinagar PDP had erected huge billboards of general Pervez Musharraf and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Every government bill board was painted green and the slogan of self rule was quite common. There was talk about dual currency, road to Muzaffarabad, talk of releasing prisoners, there was talk of peace with dignity and PDP would shout goli say nahi, boli say.

Since its alliance with the BJP, the PDP doesn't shout slogans. No visible development is taking place. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's economic package has not landed even a year after the devastating floods that hit Kashmir last year. From a promise it has become a joke in Srinagar now. It seems Mehbooba Mufti has internalised all this. And that might be reason behind her absence from public life.

Last updated: July 27, 2015 | 19:38
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