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14th March '2013
Omar Abdullah’s Shilly-Shallying!

The word “Shilly-Shally” is defined in Cambridge Dictionary as, “to spend too much time doing something or making a decision because you do not know what the right thing to do is”! The word “Shilly-Shally”comes from the phrase “shall I, shall I.” The word first entered English at the turn of the eighteenth century; it was spelled "shill I, shall I." Over past sometime we have seen the practical use of the word by the Chief Minister in connection with a number of important issues requiring his firm decision.

The first shilly-shallying happened during his tenure as the central minister in NDA government. His father had got an autonomy resolution passed in the state assembly which was forwarded to the central government. The central government did not even bother to read it but it was thrown straight into the waste paper basket. As a self-respecting Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah should have asked Omar to quit NDA government as a protest against the shabby treatment given to the autonomy resolution. Again there were other pressures from the extended family and both Omar and Farooq had to eat a humble pie!

The second shilly-shallying occurred just in the beginning of his tenure as the Chief Minister when he was accused by Muzaffar Baig of PDP of being in the list of sex offenders. He was too much worked up and emotional that he left the assembly in a huff and declared that he is going to resign as he could not bear this false and motivated allegation. One could see and feel the emotional surge inside him. However, he was persuaded by his father and other advisors and friends to control his emotions and not to submit an outright resignation which the Governor would have no choice but to accept. The shilly-shallying made him tender a conditional resignation letter which amounted to nothing. Just a face saving device in consultation with his mentors from Delhi!

The third and most talked about shilly-shallying was about the revocation of the notorious legislation AFSPA giving draconian powers to the Army posted in J & K. In fact, Omar Abdullah made an announcement while addressing a Police parade that the AFSPA would be soon revoked from Kashmir. The announcement received wide media coverage and people were feeling relieved that they would be spared the oppressive harassment of the security forces. However, the Army came out openly against the revocation of this totalitarian law and even their commander mentioned that if AFSPA is revoked, Kashmir may have to be given “Azadi” (freedom) in 2016!

The story of revoking of AFSA is the most classic shilly-shallying. The central home minister recently declared that he had received no written request from the state government for revoking the law. Many a legal experts opined that Omar Abdullah himself had the power to revoke the notorious law as it is applicable only in those areas which are declared disturbed by the state government. Omar Abdullah as the state home minister had only to get a notice issued by his home department that certain areas were no longer disturbed and the operation of AFSPA in these areas would automatically cease. But the most pertinent question is does he have the courage to do that? Again he is faced with his shilly-shallying attitudebecause it could cost him his chair!

The most recent shilly-shallying is regarding the hanging of Afzal Guru and the return of his body to his family. Was he taken into confidence or not? Some reports say he was told about it 10 days in advance. Some say he was told evening before. In any case, he had expressed the opinion that hanging should not be done but was unable to move a resolution like the Tamilnadu Assembly did regarding the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi. Had a resolution been passed in the state assembly for commuting the sentence, the central government may have been in two minds to carry it out so surreptitiously. Then comes the question of asking for the return of the body to the family for which there is now already an agitation going on and even the state assembly itself is facing a ruckus. Almost everyone has been demanding the return and burial of mortal remains of Afzal Guru who has become now a proclaimed martyr of Kashmir due to the inept handling of the case by the central government for its own vested interests.

This has been pointed out by a host of people in the entire country as well as abroad and virtually termed as a judicial murder. The most emotional phase of this episode was the moving speech almost in tears which Omar made in the state assembly on the killing of a Baramulla youth by the army. He even went to the extent of saying that his repetition for the removal of AFSPA was not madness but he really meant it. Now, he has been confronted with an alleged militant attack on the CRPF camp in Srinagar. It has been reported that one of militant organisations has threatened more such attacks. Incidentally, as aftermath of the even the CRPF men killed one of the NC activists and hue and cry was raised in the parliament about Omar Abdullah skipping the wreath laying ceremony. What will he do? Most probably we will see another bout of shilly-shallying attributed to circumstances beyond his control. There is a time in the life of a person when he has to come out of shilly-shallying and take a decision regardless of the consequences. Such a step can only be taken by a person depending upon the strength of the faith he has in his own convictions based on truth and honesty. Does Omar Abdullah have such a faith and will he do it? That is the million dollar question!

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