Since 2005, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti would cite examples of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's rule from mid 2002 to mid 2005. She would call it a golden era for Kashmir.
She would often argue how her father played a role in the opening of the cross LoC travel and trade. How he opened Mughal Road which was closed for the past six decades, how he allowed separatists free movement, and how he allowed dissent in Kashmir. She would argue that her father disbanded the infamous counter-insurgency group of Jammu and Kashmir Police, special operation group (SOG), and provided a sense of security to Kashmiris.
For nine years the PDP propagated this with all its sincerity, dedication and enthusiasm. The PDP cadres had faith in it and they propagated it across Kashmir and Jammu. Had Mehbooba compared Mufti's three-year-rule with the rule of sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, popularly called Bud Shah, and the most revered king in Kashmir's history who ruled from 1420-70, the PDP cadres would have believed in it. Such was the aura created by the PDP about Mufti's three-year-rule.
Topmost in the PDP agenda was the battle of ideas. That in its three-year-rule it allowed the battle of ideas in Kashmir. It allowed separatists room. It gave them a level playing field. It gave the opposition an open field. And separatists and the opposition believed so much in the battle ideas that they thought after Mufti would take over again he would render them irrelevant through the battle of ideas. Such was the impact of the PDP's campaign that Omar Abdullah now says the Mufti of 2015 is not the Mufti of 2003 while separatists gleefully argue that Mufti has failed in the battle of ideas.
In Jammu and Kashmir everything becomes a battle or operation. If you have to rescue people caught in floods it is Operation Help. If you have to spread education among uneducated it is an Operation Education. Operation has seeped so deeply into the psyche of the ruling establishment that it presumes everything in military terms. So there is the battle of winning hearts and minds. And there is Mufti's famous battle of ideas.
The PDP describes the battle of ideas as the core of its philosophy. The battle of ideas is allowing separatists a chance to put their point across, of allowing dissent, of allowing opposition. And giving people democratic Right of Free Speech. Whether Mufti Mohammad Sayeed implemented the battle of ideas in his earlier three-year-regime or not, separatists in Kashmir believed that he did and rendered them irrelevant. They call the battle of Ideas part of the soft counter-insurgency operation. That is why they were happy to see it failing when Mufti government went after separatists. Separatists also tested the battle of Ideas through the raising of Pakistani flags. Having a coalition with the BJP and 9pm anchors describing Mufti as a pro-Pakistan chief minister, the PDP found less space for allowing someone to test its battle of ideas. It added a baton to the battle of ideas, thus converting philosophy into pure operation.
Its latest example is the clamp down on the Kashmir University students and raining tear gas shells at Jamia Mosque. The university students were protesting against the arrest of a fellow student. In such cases what you do is to talk to students, explain the matter and rationalise with them. You don't allow a student's union in the University of Kashmir. And when students protest for three days, you don't put a police operation into effect, resorting to aerial firing and baton charge inside the campus. And then ensure peace by closing the campus and forcing all hostel students out. This is an outdated model of achieving peace in Kashmir.
In the second instance after stone throwing near Jamia Mosque, the Jammu and Kashmir police allegedly entered the mosque and fired tear gas shells inside the grand mosque of Kashmir. Separatists have called for a strike against it.
The PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has not been seen since the PDP-BJP coalition came into power in Jammu and Kashmir. She has not interacted with the press ever since the PDP-BJP decided to set sail together. It has to be seen whether she describes the present state of Jammu and Kashmir as a battle of ideas.