(Many of Kashmir’s politicians have been acting like chameleons, changing their ideologies and convictions like the colours of these lizards)
During the last seventy years Kashmir has given birth to a class of politicians who can be called the political “Chameleons”. They have been changing their colours with every political upheaval and now these have turned into virtual “Dinosaurs” destroying everything in their path for their egos!According to Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica, Chameleons are a distinctive clade of old world lizards of which 202 species have been discovered till March, 2015. These species come in a range of colours. In fact, their main distinctive attribute is to quickly change colour which allows these to merge in any vegetation in a jungle. Chameleons are distinguished by their zygodactylous feet; their very extensive, highly modified, rapidly extrudable tongues; their swaying gait and crests or horns on their brow and snout.Chameleons are adapted for climbing and visual hunting. They live in warm habitats that range from rain forest to desertconditions, with various species occurring in Africa, Madagascar, southern Europe, and across southern Asia as far as Sri Lanka. Sometimes these are also kept as household pets!
Many politicians in Kashmir right from 1947 have been acting like chameleons. They have been going from one ideology to other like the changing of colours by the chameleons. This is more so in the case of the so called “mainstream” politicians. Sometimes one has seen these people making virtual summersaults as regards convictions and ideology just for power and material gains. Some of these could even sell their mothers for a price! The most tragic thing is that these political chameleons have been carrying people with them under one pretext or other. They fattened themselves like leeches by sucking the blood of the innocent poor. One wonders at the total absence of conscience in them! They have been virtually leading people from the pillar to the post. The worst tragedy is that the people have been following them in spite of their somersaults as regards peoples’ basic rights. This has been possible as the people had no alternative. Now a new generation of Kashmiris has been born which has scared these chameleons as this generation prefers death to compromise. For past sometime hundreds of these young men are sacrificing their lives to redeem a Kashmiri’s lost honour. While facing the security forces they prefer death rather than surrender.
An interesting episode of these chameleons has been their recent joining together to ostensibly save Kashmir’s special status by keeping BJP out of Kashmir. Had they been sincere and really concerned about Kashmir’s special status, they would have come together in 2014 itself. They had a brilliant opportunity to keep BJP totally out of the state. In fact, most of them won election on the declared slogan of keeping BJP out of the valley. People voted them in on this very promise as they were really scared of BJP taking over the state and totally changing its demography. They had projected the BJP and RSS as monsters ready to gobble Kashmir and Kashmiris. However, as an anti-climax they embraced the devil which ultimately proved for them a proverbial bear hug out of which they were thrown out after facing the worst mauling ever!
The bear hug had created a heard of dinosaurs which went crazy throughout the valley consuming the youth of all ages like the ones shown in the movie Jurassic Park. The dinosaurs moved everywhere consuming anything that moved anywhere. These chameleons instead of seriously coming together to stop the butchering of Kashmiri youth are instead working out ways and means to somehow capture power again. In fact, they dare not visit their constituencies! The most sensible and the honest thing they could have done was to come together to demand cessation of violence from all sides and initiate a peaceful dialogue involving all the stakeholders. They could even contact the leaders heading the movement for the restoration of the basic human rights even though they have refused to have anything to do with them because of their past roles in depriving people of their basic rights.
All these years since 1947 have shown that the basic problem in Kashmir cannot be solved by violence. Hundreds of thousands of people have been consumed by violence from all sides. Three wars have been fought. However, the basic problem has refused to go away. The only solution possible is through a peaceful dialogue involving all stakeholders. Kashmir seems to be destined to bleed to death unless sincere efforts are made to end the mayhem and start a peaceful dialogue. Taking such an initiative is not impossible. When PM Modi can throw open Kartarpur border for the Sikhs of Punjab why cannot the Line of Control be thrown open totally in Uri as well as in Kargil? The Kartarpur initiative is like demolishing the Sub-Continent’s Berlin Wall. This is the most historic and welcome initiative which may have the same result for these two perennially antagonistic countries as the demolishing of the Berlin Wall had for the divided Europe. The breaking of psychological and physical barriers may give more dividends then the building of statues and temples. The million dollar question is will he take such a decision even though he is given to taking bold and totally unconventional decisions! Let us hope he does so not only for the present generation but for the future generations to usher in an era of peace and prosperity!
Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir