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Millennium Post

Kashmir boils as hardliners bark

Even as the country revels under poll fever, with violence mostly confined to hate speeches and rabid verbal barbs aimed at fueling the fire of sectarian politics, actual repercussions are beginning to be felt in sensitive regions like Jammu and Kashmir. In the wake of heightened vitriol spewed en masse against minority communities, particularly Muslims, by fringe and rogue elements within the saffron camp, as well as because of BJP’s rigid stance against the delicate Article 370 of Indian Constitution that gives J&K special and quasi-autonomous status, killings have begun in the northern state. Barely three days ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in south Kashmir, militants shot dead a Congress sarpanch Ghulam Nabi Mir, his son Firdous Ahmad Mir and another at Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. This is not only in stark violation of the spirit of democracy that that is distilled in the process that are parliamentary elections, but also as a reactionary and brutally adamant message against tampering with the provision of Article 370, which, as many constitutional experts agree, is a necessary yet watered down husk of its former self. The killing comes only a week after another incident of violence in which another village head, PDP sarpanch Mohammad Amin Pandit, was murdered, and is the ninth toll since general elections were held after over three decades in the state. Not only is this a grievous blow to the fabric of democracy in the country, but it exposes what lies beneath the games political parties and the ruling regimes play in order to stay in power, jeopardising and endangering ordinary lives.

    It is a matter of unending shame that while a party decries the continuance of Article 370, albeit in much denuded and diluted form, and wants its abrogation, it is utterly insensitive to the plight of the religious minorities, especially Muslims. Barely days after BJP’s Giriraj Singh brands Modi critics as ‘anti-nationals’ and asks them to flee to Pakistan, VHP supremo Praveen Togadia, made utterly irrelevant in the saffron camp’s national ambitions by none other than Narendra Modi, quips that Muslims should be summarily evicted from the country. On the other hand, AAP candidate Shazia Ilmi too tows the communal line that explains why Muslims ‘need’ to resort to communalism and play the identity card in order to stay in the political radar. Both extremes do enormous disservice to the spirit of secular democracy, which is about separation of state and religion. Yet, at every point, religion and governance are held hostage at the altar of petty political one-upmanship. It is reprehensible that ignorant loudmouths have been sabotaging peace in the valley, both from the saffron camp as well as from the separatist sections, who have direct entente with covert intelligence network that even our western neighbour has now tired of. Obviously, in this game of chess between the bickering emanating from mainstream Indian polity and Pakistan-influenced insurgencies, the casualty remains the Valley.                

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