Masarat Alam release: Why blame Mufti when even BJP wooed separatists?

Aditya Menon
Aditya MenonMar 09, 2015 | 17:27

Masarat Alam release: Why blame Mufti when even BJP wooed separatists?

It is very easy to adopt a hardline national interest view and hurl fire and brimstone at Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for ordering the release of Masarat Alam, supposedly the architect of the 2010 protests.

The BJP, being part of the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, is party to the government's decision to release Alam. Therefore, it is but natural that the saffron party will face its share of flak, despite the protestations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh that the Centre wasn't consulted on the decision.


The reality, however, is that the binary between "mainstream" and "anti-national" political actors, is a superficial one. Mainstream parties do use separatist and even insurgent outfits, and vice-versa.

The BJP's acquiescence to the PDP's "appeasement" of separatists must be seen in line with the party's efforts to expand its presence outside its core areas. For the BJP, such a process seems to have come with its share of compromises with political forces are outside the system or even antithetical to it.

This process began in the run-up to last year's Lok Sabha elections and the first area where it was followed was not Kashmir, but Assam.

Consider this.

According to this report in The Telegraph dated March 31 last year, an Assam BJP leader claimed that the Songbijit and Ranjan Daimary factions of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) pledged support to the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. The leader, Bhabadev Goswami, claimed that the two factions were angry with the Congress and had decided to support BJP. Goswami even admitted that he, along with a few other party workers and leaders, had a meeting with members of the two insurgent outfits in the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.


Now, as we all remember NDFB(Songbijit) is behind some of the most gruesome ethnic massacres that have taken place in Assam in recent years. On December 23 last year, the outfit massacred 80 adivasis in the Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts of Assam. On May 3, the outfit killed 32 Muslims in Kokrajhar. According to reports, the motive for the May killings was punishing the people for voting against a Bodo candidate in the Lok Sabha elections.

It has also been alleged that NDFB(S) carried out a bandh ahead of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's campaign at Biswanath Chariali, but allowed BJP's prime ministerial candidate to hold a rally without any disturbance. According to the report, the BJP candidate from Tezpur Ram Prasad Sarma, who eventually won the elections, also admitted that he was aware of such a meeting between the BJP and the NDFB factions. This report in Assam Times claims that Sarma was even part of the meeting.

These details from Assam show that insurgent outfits and separatist organisations do take part in elections. Like any political party, they make political calculations and accordingly support or oppose certain candidates or parties.

In Jammu and Kashmir, by most accounts, the separatists did not enforce their boycott effectively. In a state where a few hundred votes decide who wins a particular seat, the non-enforcement of the boycott had a huge bearing on the eventual result.


When it comes to appeasing separatist forces, regional parties like the PDP, or the Akali Dal and the Dravidian parties, are more obvious suspects. But for the BJP, with its hardline nationalist image, to do the same in Kashmir or Assam, is a major break from its core principles.

In Kashmir Mufti might be known as a Raavan with ten heads, but has BJP crossed a Lakshman Rekha nationally?

Last updated: March 09, 2015 | 17:27
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