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Pro-Pakistan slogans? Nothing new for the Valley

Naseer Ganai
Naseer GanaiApr 19, 2015 | 15:52

Pro-Pakistan slogans? Nothing new for the Valley

In June 1977, then Prime Minister Morarji Desai visited Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the legislative Assembly elections. That year Janata Party leaders were making a beeline to Kashmir. The then home minister Charan Singh and the then minister of external affairs Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Kashmir to woo Kashmiris.

They all wanted to see Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah defeated. After the 1975 Indira-Sheikh accord, the Sheikh had returned to power as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir through Indira Gandhi's political engineering, even though clock was not turned back to 1953 as he wished.

However, in just two years, the Congress party and Sheikh Abdullah lost all love for each other and the Congress members in March 1977 withdrew support from the Sheikh's government and with it fresh elections were announced. The Janata Party had aligned with the pro-Pakistan Awami Action Committee of Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq.

It is said during the election campaign, Desai came to Kashmir and Kashmiri Muslim women greeted him by singing the traditional Kashmiri song, the wanwun. They sang, "Pakistanuk gazi aww" (Here comes the warrior from Pakistan). Desai didn't object.

However, the Janata Party didn't win the elections of 1977. Sheikh's National Conference out of 76 seats on 47 and the Janta party 13, the Awami Action Committee not a single seat and the Congress party won only eleven.

Before dissolution of the Assembly in 1977, the Congress leader Mufti Muhammad Sayeed wanted that he should replace Sheikh Abdullah as chief minister. He realised this dream in 2002.

Sheikh Abdullah after 22 long years of struggle through the Plebiscite Front, which his close lieutenant Mirwaiz Afzal Beg later described as political wilderness, became chief minister of the state again in 1977.

In November 1977 he came up with Public Safety Ordinance, which allowed the government to take anyone in custody up to two years without an appeal. Sheikh Abdullah argued for the ordinance (now called Public Safety Act) saying he needed a stronger hand to deal with infiltration from Pakistan.

Ironically on August 9, 1953, Sheikh was arrested on charges of being a Pakistani agent. He was then prime minister of the state. After his arrest, the pro-Pakistan slogan was part of Plebiscite Movement launched by Sheikh. In 1958 when Sheikh was rearrested after his brief release, the charge against him was that Pakistan was funding his Plebiscite Front.

Now move to October 13, 1983. That day at the Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium in Srinagar, dozens of people invaded the cricket ground during the match between India and West Indies. It is said the crowd cheered the runs scored and wickets taken by the West Indies and shouted pro-Pakistan and pro-West Indies slogans. At the lunch break, dozens invaded and dug up the pitch arguing Kashmir is disputed territory and no international match could be played in the Valley.

And since 1990, when armed insurgency broke out in the state, pro-Pakistan slogans are seen as the norm. That is why people here are bit surprised with the media reaction to pro-Pakistani slogans at Hurriyat Conference leader, Syed Ali Geelani's rally. Those who are familiar with Kashmir know there is nothing new in it. Given the intensity of such slogans in 2008 and the mass protests in 2010, pro-Pakistan slogan shouting in Geelani's rally seems quite commonplace.

Yet, what is new today is that there is a PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir. And some sections wonder how the BJP can allow pro-Pakistan slogans. That is why some of them went overboard and added another dimension to the slogans. They said recently released separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat raised the Pakistani flag during a rally, which reporters covering the event, said is far from truth. It seems shouting Pakistani slogans wasn't sensational enough, so they had to add waving of the Pakistan flag. An amused Jammu and Kashmir government led by Mufti Muhammad Sayeed did what any government does. It asked the police to register an FIR. There would be an investigation to check whether Masarat Alam Bhat really raised the Pakistani flag.

Meanwhile, in 2011 a sessions court after 28 years of trial acquitted all those, including separatist leader, Shabir Ahmad Shah, who were accused of digging up the cricket pitch during India-West Indies match.

Last updated: July 17, 2015 | 16:17
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