Just before the elections there is a big hullaballoo about what is supposed to be the most far reaching step to help the rural population in getting things done at their door step. Supposedly a far reaching administrative revamp throughout the state. A number of analysis and commentaries have been made on the subject by the most informative and learned experts. On the face of it, there can be no two opinions that it is an election gimmick. After having failed to deliver on the earlier promises of power, water, and roads, they needed something to sell to the people regardless of the nature of the goodies being offered or their long term consequences. As pointed out by some columnists this step of creating new administrative units strikes at the root of the earlier step of empowering people through “Panchayat Raj”. It is virtually handing over the Panchayats to the extended bureaucracy at the village level itself. Instead of the locally elected Panchs running the show, it will be the extended arm of the state bureaucracy which will control the Panchayats even at the village level. As someone has said, it would be “Patwari Raj” instead of the “Panchayat Raj”!
It has now become a routine to announce one after the other “revolutionary” measure to deflect people from their main narrative. Everyone knows that there is a prime narrative in Kashmir concerning its basic status. However, none of the stake holders is serious enough to address this basic problem. All are in one or the other way going along with the status quo. Unfortunately, some of the stake holders go to any length to divert people from their main narrative by inventing one or the other problem and then keeping them busy in solving the same. In fact, the earlier much publicised and hailed revolutionary step of the “land to the tiller” which was even hailed by the revolutionaries in Russia at that time got diluted due to the circumstances following its enactment. The subsequent events also struck at the main narrative at that particular point of time in Kashmir’s history. After centuries of subjugation the Kashmiris had risen to overthrow the yolk of slavery of the outside oppressors. The unusual circumstances of the partition of the sub-continent entangled their movement in the mutual mistrust and enmity of the two communities living in the undivided India, which in the case of Kashmir had been at total peace with each other for generations. Instead of getting liberated from the clutches of the external feudalism and regaining their lost sovereignty, they landed themselves in a vicious cycle of violence and corruption. Sheikh Abdullah’s revolutionary measure of giving the land to the tiller did restore the dignity of a Kashmiri to some extent as he became the owner instead of a serf. But then the land as well as the tiller got enslaved once again by a bigger and more powerful overlord! What use is land to a person if he does not have the basic security of his life?
At present a Kashmiri has the land which he can till. He has a house and he has many other material possessions and privileges. But then he has no guarantee of his life, self-respect and dignity. He is at the mercy of a uniformed soldier who can even use him for target practice. In the present day Kashmir, a Kashmiri can be killed in a fake encounter, his women can be raped, and his dwellings destroyed as collateral damage and the perpetrators can go scot free! If this has been the ultimate consequence of the land to the tiller, then where would the present tying of the tiller lead to? While discussing the economic aspects of these administrative measures some experts have opined that it would lead to further dependence of the state for dole from the centre as the state is virtually bankrupt and cannot even pay the salaries of its existing employees. It is an irony that the person whose grandfather had taken the revolutionary step of restoring a Kashmiri the possession of his land after centuries of subjugation by his unparalleled measure of the “land to the tiller”, is now tying that very tiller by the strands of an administrative cobweb of a spider sitting cosily at Delhi! They say everything and everyone in the world has a nemesis. Has the fate created Omar to be the nemesis of the Abdullah dynasty? Time alone will tell!