Scavengers: Hilal Mir

Guest post by HILAL MIR

Two monoliths of pro-India politics in Kashmir, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and Dr Farooq Abdullah, are soaring high in the dark autumn skies of the valley like vultures. Below are the 110 bodies of warm-blooded children, boys, men and a lone woman. From these bodies will they and their offspring derive nourishment because serving a nation of 1 billion people is indeed an uphill task.

The way Madhu Kishwar and Prem Shankar Jha are lobbying for Mufti at every seminar in New Delhi demonstrates Mufti’s silence is really studied. What about Abdullah duo. They are neck deep in muck, which reminds one of those famous lines of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Kubrick’s masterpiece Full Metal Jacket—you are the lowest form of life on earth…

What makes Mufti Sayeed the favourite of many in north and south blocks and their satellites in media and NGO Inc.? It is his ability to strike like a seasoned mountain guerrilla and pull out surprises before which many a summer intifada in the valley pale in significance. Assembly elections after Amarnath land struggle, for example.

He makes noises occasionally these days. One can only imagine, at great personal risk, what his ultra-ripe political brain is conceiving in his private cellar. You can expect the birth of the conceived product around next elections only. Remember, besides a jurist, interestingly, mufti also means plainclothes, especially worn by someone who normally wears a military uniform! Mufti in mufti. There is no point alluding to the interchangeability so characteristic of pro-India politicians in Kashmir. Mufti is the only one-faced politician in Kashmir: the face of India. An Indian guerrilla, who has been leading his attacks from the margins unceasingly for the past 40 years against the stubborn Kashmiris who don’t seem to buy his vision that the only worthwhile fight is the fight for his dream of “real Indian democracy to flower in Kashmir”. Whatever that means.
Kashmiris make subtle distinctions between various pro-India politicians. So Farooq Abdullah becomes an “Indian by compulsion” and Mufti an “Indian by conviction”. While I don’t agree with the former assertion either, I do firmly believe Mufti was an Indian in the womb itself. Draw a pint of blood from him, analyse it, and you will have a gene map of all the Indian machinations since 1947. You might say he was a kid then. But then what is meant by “some are born great…

When he took over the power in 2002, his party’s current spokesman Naeem Akhtar wrote an article in Greater Kashmir, equating Mufti and Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Akhtar said he admired both, as they had stood firm on what they had believed all their lives: one in the hope that “Indian democracy will flower in Kashmir” one day, the other in its merger with Pakistan. Since the ingratiating (Akhtar was Mufti’s private secretary then) comparison was vulgar, it provoked a vulgar riposte from me. By this reasoning, I had written, a pimp who runs a brothel for 40 years amidst a cluster of mosques is as consistent, but does that make her acceptable to the followers of the faith? I was not judging the pimp, or even advocating the mosque, but only drawing a parallel between the reality and Akhtar’s dream. Akhtar, to me, seemed superhumanly benevolent. He seems capable of loving both Auschwitz and Jews at the same time.

Farooq Abdullah has milked that great dead cow called Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s legacy long enough. Omar Abdullah has now put his mouth on those udders. The father-son duo is managing well to preside over Indian brutalities and enjoy power too.
What is the point of saying all this when pro-India politicians currently can’t face people in constituencies they groomed for years with money, coercion, treachery. The point is that we have very short memories. We will soon vote this shit on our heads.

The point is the role of pro-India politicians as monolithic collaborators, who have done more damage to the movement of Kashmiris than India, is soon forgotten. For example, a lot of high-minded, intelligent people like Akhtar mysteriously began to see in Mufti a statesman newly-minted with the guarantee to change the fate of Kashmiris. As if overnight Mufti had cast off his treacherous past, a la pilgrimage guaranteed to wash off all past sins. As if the only thing Kashmiris owed to their future was to vote for him, and if they didn’t they were betraying themselves and the martyrs of Eidgah graveyard. It came to me as no surprise when I saw many journalists openly campaigning for Mufti during the assembly elections and asking people at polling stations to vote for PDP candidates. A few were doing the same for even more treacherous National Conference, providing it video footage as propaganda fodder against Mehbooba Mufti. Some had epiphanies and began to see visions of Kashmir as Shangri La in making when this inexperienced hotel management graduate was voted to power.

Overnight “Mufti whisky” became “Mufti Sahab”. I had never heard his name taken without that inebriating suffix. A journalist friend of mine, who spent a lot of time in Delhi, is privy to how the PDP was manufactured. I assume even those who flocked around Mufti Sahab too will have an inkling of how this transformation came about. On the other hand, who will forget the paeans sung to Omar Abdullah post his ascent to the throne.

Once again, Muftis and Abdullahs will—using the humungous Indian juggernaut of army, intelligence agencies, cash, official machinery—play some new tune and anesthetize Kashmiris. Once again journalists and intellectuals and academics will invent alibis to legitimize one or the other.

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