Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is all set to become the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir with the help of the BJP. The PDP-BJP government is expected to be sworn in on March 1.
With every "peaceful" election in the conflict-ridden state, it has almost become a ritual to call every government formation there as a "new beginning" and Mufti's second term as chief minister will be yet another "new beginning" in Kashmir.
Many analysts will find a lot to be pleased about in the new power-sharing arrangement that will come into being in the state. It would be presented as an alliance between parties who occupy two ends of the ideological spectrum and a tie-up that represents the aspirations of the people of Jammu as well as Kashmir (Ladakh, which voted overwhelmingly for the Congress, will be conveniently ignored). Some would also showcase the PDP-BJP alliance as the BJP's move towards the politics of moderation and perhaps even Modi's first step towards becoming a statesman. And of course, it will be a victory of democracy. Everything is, in Kashmir.
Public memory is short. Few in Delhi would want to remember what happened in Kashmir the last time Mufti and the BJP came together. In 1989, Mufti became the home minister of India in VP Singh's government that was supported by the BJP from outside. Mufti's tenure as home minister, which began with the kidnapping of his daughter Rubaiya Sayeed, saw the rise of militancy in Kashmir. The winter of 1989-'90 was one of the darkest periods in the history of Kashmir. Whether perpetrators were from the security forces or militants, it was the people of Kashmir who suffered. Here are some of the incidents that took place in Kashmir under Mufti's tenure as home minister.
|January 19, 1990||Kashmiri Pandits forced to flee their homes following attacks by militants. More than one lakh Pandits estimated to have been displaced over the next decade.|
|January 20, 1990||CRPF opened fire on people protesting against the Central government and Governor Jagmohan at Gaw Kadal. More than 50 people were killed.|
|January 25, 1990||25 civilians killed by BSF in Handwara.|
|March 1, 1990||33 killed and 47 injured at Zakoora crossing and Tengpora as security forces opened fire on protestors demanding the implementation of UN Security Council resolution.|
|May 21, 1990||At least 50 people killed as BSF fired on the funeral procession of Mirwaiz Maulvi Mohammad Farooq near Islamia College in Srinagar.|
|August 6, 1990||BSF raided a house in Mashali Mohalla in Srinagar killing nine people|
|August 10, 1990||Army patrol allegedly killed 25 people and raped women in Pazipora near Kupwara.|
|September 11, 1990||Troops opened fire on a bus carrying civilians, 22 persons were killed. Nine passengers were charred to death.|
|October 1, 1990||Army opened fire on civilians in a market in Handwara, killing 27 people and injuring more than 150 people. Allegedly, the troops also set many shops 380 shops and godowns on fire.|
These were some of the violent events that took place the last time Mufti and the BJP got together. But the cycle of violence in Kashmir continued even after the VP Singh government fell. On yesterday's date, in 1991, troops belonging to the fourth Rajputana and 68 Mountain Division entered Kunan and Poshpora villages near Kupwara and allegedly raped more than 40 women.
Every landmark day in the cobbling together of the BJP-PDP alliance, coincides with the anniversary of one of these events or the other. The alliance became public on the anniversary of the Kunan Poshpora mass rape and Mufti will be sworn in as chief minister on the anniversary of the Zakoora and Tengpora massacre.
The 2014 Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir were historic. Not because it brought the BJP and PDP to power but because many Kashmiris cast their vote for the first time since 1987 elections, that were widely believed to have been rigged. Back then they had stamped their ballot on the pen and ink pot, the symbol of the Muslim United Front. 27 years later , most of them pressed the button on the same symbol, the difference being that it now belonged to the PDP. One of the reasons for their return to the polling booth was the PDP's campaign stoking fears of a BJP onslaught and how any power arrangement involving the saffron party would mark the death-knell for Article 370 and State Subject laws.
Yes, a voter coming back to the polling booth after 27 years is an achievement for democracy. But if the government that comes into place is a betrayal of that voter, can we say democracy has truly triumphed?