"New wind is blowing in Kashmir. We will build a new Kashmir together for everyone". These were the words of prime minister Narendra Modi to justify the de-activation of the constitutional provisions granting special status to Kashmir. Ever since then, now for over a year, the central government has been giving the people of Kashmir a 'peaceful life' under military boots. What happens there now is nothing short of a sangh parivar experiement of denying freedoms by disconnecting internet and even telephone connections. The government has been hunting journalists and media institutions and suppressing media freedom, under different pretexts. Most of the leaders arrested immediately prior to abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 and dividing Jammu-Kashmir, are still behind bars, except a few prominent ones including three former chief ministers. Although a few concessions were granted on the occasion of the anniversary of the 'new Kashmir', even they are under the mercy of the Centre. The BJP government is proving through its patently vindictive actions that if any one moves a finger against the Centre or if political parties make any independent move, it will bring them to knees through administrative bulldozing. Although it is not new for governments in office at the time to use agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) for political retaliation, Modi government has broken all previous records in this regard.
It has become customary for any one raising a criticism or complaint against the central government, its ministers or its policies, to be subjected to such spiteful moves. On the realisation that the people or the political parties of the Valley are not prepared to accept the abrogation of Article 370 provisions - a Hindutva agenda which was passed under the heavy hand of its brute majority in parliament - the Centre is poised to suppress voices of dissent and resistance at any cost. It was only as victims of BJP's political vengeance that three former chief ministers had to go to jail in the new Kashmir. Even after releasing Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti - BJP's one-time ally in the state – had been still held under detention only to settle some scores. Now when it has become clear that the three released leaders are not prepared for 'probation of good conduct', the Centre has taken a course of going after them at any cost. The actions by ED in the name of an old allegation related to cricket board funds is part of that. The case against Farooq is that out of Rs 112 crore given by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to Jammu-Kashmir Cricket Association in the period 2002-2011, Farooq illegally misappropriated Rs 43.60 crore. The J&K High Court had ordered a CBI enquiry into this in 2015. And a charge sheet had also been filed against accused including Farooq Abdullah. It is by digging up this dormant case that Farooq has been interrogated twice over the last three days.
One may not rule out the involvement of Farooq Abdullah and his family in a corruption scam. But the prompt for coming up with this case at this stage, it can easily be discerned, is nothing but the joint decision by the broad spectrum of non-BJP parties in Kashmir for re-establishing the old Kashmir. Before being arrested las t year, the three leaders had met at the residence of Farooq Abdullah in Gupkar Road, and signed what came to be known as the 'Gupkar Declaration', agreeing to move unitedly to restore the constitutional status of Kashmir. Post their release from jail, the leaders met again and reiterated the decision to implement the declaration by working in unison for the pre-5 August 2019 Jammu-Kashmir. All the mainstream political parties of the Valley, except the CPM, are in the Gupkar front. Although not a signatory to the declaration, Congress had signed the previous declaration. The alliance has decided to move collectively, at political and legal levels against the BJP's partition of Kashmir.
The Centre's resort to the weapon of ED as a move to silence Farooq Abdullah, comes close on the heels of such political developments. The response of parties including the Congress that this constitutes a political vindictiveness is a simple truth – an attempt to overcome adversaries through political blackmailing. It is no coincidence that in the same period, the Srinagar office of 'Kashmir Times', the oldest newspaper of Jammu-Kashmir, was seized and closed. The action bears a direct relation to the move by its editor Anuradha Bhasin who had moved the Supreme Court last year against the communication blockade including internet shutdown. In a way, the Centre is giving Kashmir a sample of the 'new Kashmir' of its conception. But, every exercise of this kind is bound to make the resolution of the Kashmir issue not any the easier, but only further complicated.