Court­ing con­tro­ver­sies: Blow­ing the script storm

Views from Srinagar

Pakistan Observer - - KASHMIR - [Writer is veteran Srinagar based jour­nal­ist] shu­jaat7867@gmail.com]

FSHUJAAT BUKHARI OR the past few months Kash­mir has been em­broiled in a string of con­tro­ver sies. Prom­i­nent car­toon­ist Bashir Ah­mad Bashir rightly por­trayed the govern­ment spokesman Naeem Akhtar as “wazir-etardeed” (Min­is­ter for De­nials) in ad­di­tion to his orig­i­nal ed­u­ca­tion port­fo­lio. Akhtar called me­dia a few times only to deny one or the other plan that had led to fears in Kash­mir. From the pro­posal of Sainik Colonies to sep­a­rate en­claves for Kash­miri Pan­dits to the New In­dus­trial Pol­icy hav­ing pro­vi­sion for non­lo­cals to buy land on lease and tem­po­rary shel­ters for the lo­cals as well as non-lo­cal labour­ers, the cur­rent govern­ment has been in a fire fight­ing mode to ward off any pos­si­bil­ity of re­peat of a 2008 or 2010like sit­u­a­tion.

These con­tro­ver­sies have come handy for the sep­a­ratists as well, who af­ter a long time have re­grouped ap­par­ently shun­ning their egos and ide­o­log­i­cal stand­ing vis-a-vis the res­o­lu­tion of Kash­mir is­sue.

They have made a joint call for shut­down on May 26 to protest what they call In­dia’s “anti-Kash­mir poli­cies”.

In the past, both the fac­tions of Hur­riyat Con­fer­ence as well as other sep­a­ratist or­ga­ni­za­tions have had their own course of ac­tion.

But the re­cent weeks have seen a re­ju­ve­nated ef­fort to get on a single plat­form for fight­ing on these is­sues if not united by re-stitch­ing the grand al­liance as it ex­isted till Septem­ber 2003.

Not only the sep­a­ratists, even the main­stream op­po­si­tion par­ties viz., Na­tional Con­fer­ence and Con­gress have used th­e­ses con­tro­ver­sies to cor­ner the govern­ment. The con­tro­ver­sies are likely to dom­i­nate the bud­get ses­sion of the state leg­is­la­ture which be­gins on May 25.

For the time be­ing the PDP-BJP govern­ment might have suc­ceeded in putting a lid on the boil­ing pot, but the fact is that po­lit­i­cal un­rest is very much vis­i­ble. The broad-day at­tack on po­lice­men by mil­i­tants in Srinagar on May 23 is seen as a grim re­minder of the un­fold­ing sit­u­a­tion. At the same time Kash­mir is in boom with good tourist sea­son and these au­da­cious at­tacks by mil­i­tants are likely to put a damp­ener. The amal­gam of trade bod­ies— Kash­mir Eco­nomic Al­liance (KEA) headed by Mo­ham­mad Yasin Khan has rightly warned about a dis­turbed sit­u­a­tion in case the govern­ment did not roll back all the plans “aimed at push­ing Kash­miris to the wall”.

It is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand as to why such con­tro­ver­sies are rais­ing the head when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that rules in Delhi has a huge stake in hav­ing a smooth govern­ment in Jammu and Kash­mir. Af­ter all it is in coali­tion with PDP in the state. But the way these sin­is­ter games are be­ing played out, it looks like BJP is de­ter­mined to im­ple­ment its agenda to keep its vote bank in­tact and not re­spect the Agenda of Al­liance it has en­tered with PDP at the time of form­ing the govern­ment in 2015.

The latest ad­di­tion to the list of con­tro­ver­sies is the re­ported pro­posal of Min­istry of Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment to in­tro­duce Dev­na­gri and Sharda as al­ter­na­tive script for Kash­miri lan­guage. Hin­dus­tan Times re­ported on May 16 that MHRD was ex­pected to seek ap­proval of union cab­i­net to set up a new body— Na­tional Coun­cil for Pro­mo­tion of Kash­miri Lan­guage with an ob­jec­tive to fo­cus on pro­mot­ing lan­guage in Dev­na­gri and Per­sio-Ara­bic script and also at­tempt to re­vive their fore­run­ner – Sharda.

This de­vel­op­ment has evoked out­rage from Kash­mir’s civil so­ci­ety com­pris­ing writ­ers, poets, academicians, jour­nal­ists, busi­ness­men and lawyers who see it as a con­spir­acy to un­der­mine the ex­ist­ing script. The move by MHRD is the out­come of the lob­by­ing by a sec­tion of Kash­miri Pan­dits who want to dis­lodge the cur­rent Per­sio-Ara­bic (Nastaliq) script iden­ti­fy­ing it with Mus­lims. —Cour­tesy: Ris­ing Kash­mir

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