Politics, identity and the community divide


“They want to divide the Muslims (in Kashmir), so that they can rule us. They pursued the divide and rule policy and they would continue to do so in the future as well. It was an amazing comment. Its extraordinary character lay for two reasons: first, Farooq pointed out that Muslims in the Valley were divided along political lines. Second, he sought to dilute the main position of his party, the National Conference in Kashmir, which has a long history before and after the end of the monarchy in Jammu and Kashmir. Sometimes he was at the forefront of Kashmir politics, and on other occasions he was victimized.

The immediate concern, as drawn from the situation on the ground in Kashmir, is that the National Conference knows what lies ahead. It will have to share its voices with other parties, which is more pronounced since the emergence of the People’s Democratic Party. He couldn’t get a majority in the 2002 Assembly polls. He ended up with 28 seats, and the same result was there in the 2008 polls. The 2014 polls left him with the number historically. lower seats – 15. Farooq was ill and that made a big difference to the campaign and the bottom line.

The assertion of Muslim unity at that time, and the suggestion raised by Sajad Gani Lone, president of the People’s Conference that if “Dr. Abdullah is so interested in Muslim unity, let him and his party support us in the elections, and give the son of the poor a chance to become chief minister ”, is not new. Kashmir has been a staunch supporter of Muslim identity politics for decades. After all, the origins of NC are found in the Muslim Conference. And, generations who have watched the polls since the 1970s know that this religion-based politics has dominated the scene in Kashmir.

There is nothing wrong with pursuing a policy based on religion. Many countries around the world do. Kashmir being what it is, has always feared for its Muslim identity. Election of Sheikh Abdullah in 1977 and dual unity of Farooq (Farooq Abdullah and the late Mirwaiz Moulvi Mohammad Farooq burying the decades-old Sher-Bakra conflict) on the eve of the 1983 elections. The emergence of the Muslim United Front (MUF) in 1986 and his participation in the 1987 elections is another example of ranking. And, at that time, Sajad Gani Lone’s father, Abdul Gani Lone, a shrewd politician and a man of conviction, refused to join the MUF, saying he did not want to align himself with the “political lumpens”. The MUF was founded to fight against the National Conference. History has left its mark and is repeating itself.

The politics of Kashmir have collapsed time and time again. But there are risks to this kind of politics being played out in Kashmir – he spoke of Muslims, absolutely nothing wrong, but he gave justification to others who continue their religious policy and also to those who survive on the slogan of a Hindu chief minister. It was this clash of visions that became inevitable in the 2014 polls that messages were sent to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed by almost all non-BJP parties that he should form a secular government, but the late leader crafted his own theory of regional and communal harmony by seeking to bring North Pole-South Pole in the middle to change the political environment. His daughter Mehbooba Mufti, who succeeded him as chief minister, had to witness the collapse of her father’s dream in June 2018.

Two things are clear: the leaders of the NC and the PC have abandoned the plains of Jammu – they are more interested in the Muslim identity politics which is spreading beyond the valley in the areas dominated by the Muslims of Jammu, which will strengthen the voices they have south of Pir Panjal. no other choice but to go with the saffron festival. It is very likely that the year 2014 will repeat itself and that another party straddling the two regions could take first place in the next government.

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