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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Was ban on SMS in National (Conference) interest?

‘Three Idiots” rant should have roused Omar against ‘rumour agencies’ in his own state

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Apr 18: Dramatic imposition of ban on SMS services and its equally dramatic withdrawal within hours last week has exposed not only Government of India’s bankruptcy in handling plain matters of governance in Jammu & Kashmir but also the Kashmiri politicians’ trait of blaming ‘Delhi’ for all of their own sins. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah demonstrated tremendous alacrity for fear of everybody---from Mehbooba Mufti to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq---in rushing to media with his invectives and taking his complaint to the peoples’ court in the Valley rather than calling up his coalition partner in New Delhi.

In the entire drama, Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre has nonsensically confirmed what the cynics of the Kashmir politics and intelligentsia have been complaining of in the last over 60 years. From hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani to the mainstream politicians, who have themselves been the best beneficiaries in becoming even the state’s Chief Ministers and Union Home Ministers, all and sundry in Srinagar have been holding ‘Delhi’ responsible for calling the ruling party’s interest as the ‘national interest’. It has been emphatically substantiated by Home Minister P Chidambaram’s obsequiously acting on the J&K Chief Minister’s advise---first by imposing ban on all types of SMS services in ‘security interest’ of the country and then revoking it within hours.

Nobody asked Chidambaram as to what precisely was his interpretation of the ‘national interest’ and ‘security interest’. None other than Chief Minister and the ruling National Conference President revealed it---nobody knows whether inadvertently or to pre-empt what could have been a potentially dangerous revelation from Mehbooba---that ban on the SMS services was, in fact, sequel to an official SOS from Jammu. Chief Minister said it, rather candidly, that his government had urged the Centre to block bulk SMS circulation, “most of it done by BSNL”, as, according to him, illegal ‘news agencies’ in the state had been found spinning rumours through their cellphones.

Interestingly, the Jammu communication has gone in the wake of PDP having allegedly sponsored “Three Idiots” tirade against Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s dynasty. Telecommunication is undoubtedly a Central subject. A ‘Centre’ that does not mind Srinagar-based practising lawyers’ audacious acts of insulting the Indian Constitution and sovereignty before High Court judges can not be expected to act on petty matters of SMS circulation of its own. Chief Minister was obviously justified in breaking ‘Delhi’s slumber’ with his strong complaint.

Police and law and order figure in the state list. What would have prevented Chief Minister from taking strong action against the anti-social elements running ‘news agencies’ merely on what he himself termed as ‘unsubstantiated rumours’? Head of the government haplessly knocking at New Delhi’s door has raised far serious questions: Are the state mainstream parties programmed simply to act as “Delhi’s surrogates” on the geopolitical patch from Lakhanpur to Uri? People from outside Lakhanpur have been already grappling with other questions: Why does Delhi reward every Delhi-basher in Jammu & Kashmir? Why are all nationalists and patriotic people consigned to dustbins in this state of anarchy and mobocracy?

Chief Minister appears to be handicapped in acting against the ‘news agencies’ for the fact that almost all of his Ministers and senior government functionaries have been making best use of these very “rumour mongers” in their false promotion. They are invariably the special invitees on most of the official functions and events. That perhaps explains as to why these services should exist and their bulk SMS circulation alone should be banned. In Srinagar, this is now ridiculed as “Delhi’s National Conference interest”.

Six years back, its best manifestation came in the form of ‘Delhi’ shutting her eyes to Mehbooba Mufti’s brazen act of vandalizing a polling station and preventing genuine electors from exercising their right to vote. It was only when Omar threatened to withdraw from remaining two phases of the Lok Sabha election of 2004 that Election Commission of India asked Returning Officer to register an FIR against the PDP President. All successive Directors General of Police are wise enough to know that such FIRs are only to be registered and never to be investigated. Call it “national interest”, this “National Conference interest”, “PDP interest” and “Congress interest” is, in fact, preventing millions of the Generation-3 in the Valley from having faith in the Indian Constitution and the real democratic body politic.


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