Political Amnesia

Political Amnesia

The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti in a statement, has asserted that “abandoning the plebiscite movement and the rigged elections of 1987 sowed the seeds of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir”. Stripped of accretions, this assertion essentially is a not too veiled attempt to apportion blame on the PDP’s opponent, the National Conference (NC) and implicate the party over militancy in Kashmir. However, the statement constitutes what may be called the “fallacy of reductionism” and a gross misreading of Jammu and Kashmir’s modern political history.
The CM’s statement is reductive because it reduces the history of the state to a caricature. Because, the state’s complex and convoluted history is reduced to a caricature, it is a distortionary prism that obscures the history of the state and its descent into militancy and violence. Facts and an objective reading of Jammu and Kashmir’s history reveal that violence and militancy in the state stem from a complex welter of reasons. The salient of these could be held to be the State’s obstructionism in resolving the conflict in and over Kashmir, with manipulation of political space to maintain India’s sovereign remit over Kashmir.
This approach entailed and was underpinned by a degree of coercion and driving dissent underground. In this schema, “abandoning” the plebiscite movement and rigging of the 1987 elections were mere corollaries. Attributing militancy to these events then amounts to getting the causality wrong. That is, mistaking effect for cause. The wellsprings of the conflict in and over Kashmir stem for larger historical reasons, a clash of sovereignties, and the will of the people caught in these clashes. Mehbooba’s statement then is a partisan one premised upon inter party competition in mainstream political space.
The problem with this and the attendant view of the state’s history is that if this becomes the main interpretative device for reading its history, it has consequences. A reductive prism means that the axes that could define the state’s politics would merely revolve around partisanship defined by polemical political duels. This is precisely what the long suffering people of Jammu and Kashmir do not need. What is needed is a prudent approach and politics that takes a sober view and appraisal of the state’s history and its politics that could then lead to a conflict resolution paradigm which, in turn, alleviates the suffering of the people. Anything else would be mere indulgence.

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