The widely splashed picture of Narendra Modi hugging Mufti Sayed before the formation of the North and South Pole alliance gave some uneasy feeling and reminded one of the Kashmiri proverbs, “KakunHaaputh”. The story is about a father and a son going into woods and then getting separated. Suddenly, the father hears cries of his son calling him to save him. The father asks what has happened. The son agonisingly cries back that a bear has hugged him. The father shouts, leave the bear. The son shouts back, father I am trying to leave it but it is not leaving me!
There were a lot of expectations both developmental and political. The moot point is whether the hug was really a positive bear hug and a lasting one and is any of the two leaders really acting as the proverbial bear? Both leaders took a pretty long time in preparing to hug each other. If one minutely observes the facial expression of the two leaders, it appears that Mufti Sayed was not very comfortable in hugging Narendra Modi who on the contrary seems happy and contented. While as Modi is holding him tightly in terms of a true bear hug, Mufti Sayed’s hands are open! It may appear that the proverbial bear is Modi but on second thoughts after seeing the recent happenings, the reverse seems more plausible! Especially the uproar and subsequent threats to leave coalition followed by a climb down makes one think that it is now Modi who will be unable to un-hug himself from Mufti Sayed!
Having kept the controversial issues of the north and the south pole on a temporary hold, the first and foremost need of the people in the valley was not only rehabilitation and restoration after the most devastating flood of the century but the fool-proof prevention of future floods and the perennial water-logging of most of the city and other areas. There have been many plans including some with the help of Asian Development Bank executed through the Economic Reconstruction Agency for some of these projects. Unfortunately except a few, most of the projects get allotted or sub-let to small contractors for financial and political gains. The result is disastrous implementation and management of these projects whether connected with drainage, road construction and so on. The living example is the drainage in Srinagar city and the four-lanning of the highway from Qazigund to Srinagar. For a change, the basic infrastructure projects need to be allotted to some of the reputed national or even international construction agencies to ensure implementation and completion on turnkey basis within a definite time-frame. Some examples of the work executed on these bases is the surfacing of some Srinagar roads during governor’s rule in mid-eighties and the commissioning of the Uri Power Project during the most disturbed years of the militancy of the nineties.
There were many possibilities in the sphere of good governance and development in all the three regions of the state. The million dollar question was whether the present set up clobbered together after putting a temporary lid on some very controversial and disruptive issues could firmly put its feet on the ground and get a strong hold on the situation. Unfortunately, the reverse seems to be happening. One after the other controversial issues are being deliberately propped up. The return of Pandits has been hanging fire for last 20 years while as the West Pakistan refugees have been waiting for more than 60 years! The refugee issue is more volatile than the Pandit issue. However, the Pandit issue is more sensitive in regard to the valley. There seems to be deliberate attempt to inflame the sentiments and passions of the valley dwellers. Can it be construed as an attempt to get un-hugged from one of the two sides?
Normally, the two sides should have gone full steam ahead in rehabilitation and restoration. The infrastructure is in shambles. In fact, one of the Bollywood heroes recently remarked that Kashmir has everything except the infrastructure! The three most important and urgent tasks to be taken in hand were the restoration, rehabilitation and construction of standard basic infrastructure. This had to be coupled with lessening of the harassment by security personnel of all shades and hues. While the first tasks are still going on at a slow pace, the reverse is happening on the last one because of the new fuel being added to already simmering fire. In fact, a fellow columnist had recently observed that the present phase of Kashmir’s popular movement appears to be fizzling out. He should rest assured that the present central government will not allow this to happen and they are renewing the same with their periodic inputs. May be they are regretting the hug and want to end it sooner than later?