Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rendezvous with Ratan

This week Rajya Sahba MP GN Ratanpuri went to meet Geelani Sahib at Malviya Nagar in New Delhi, where the padre of Kashmir’s resistance has been confined to a solitary room by the mighty government. On the first day the honorable MP wasn’t even allowed to shake hands, leave alone meet up the ailing patriarch. Both Geelani sahib (standing on the doorway) and Ratanpuri (standing a few feet away) were not allowed to touch base. Like jinxed lovers.

After standing in the kotcha for a long time, and having made a dozen phone calls to several chaps in the higher echelons of power (being a lawmaker has its perks) Ratanpuri returned with eyes like disappointed lemons. Orders from the top, he was bluntly told, bar anyone from meeting the 83 year old. A feeble soul with a pacemaker, half a kidney, chronic asthma, cervical spondylosis and prostate problem is apparently a code orange level threat to the largest democracy in the solar system. What to do, Sir?

But Rantanpuri is not someone to give up so soon. After all he has been the editor of the quirky Urdu Daily Aftab in the heady 70s, not to mention his celebrity broadcaster days at Radio Kashmir, Srinagar. He persisted on Day two and finally, with a great degree of wriggling and contacts, managed to convince the paranoid security grid that he won’t really leak any of the radioactive substance that Geelani Sahib apparently emits.

He shall, he pledged, simply have a photograph taken with the old man on his new BlackBerry. Armed with a tablet (akin to the Ten Commandments…Thou Shalt not types) and under the watchful eye of the pot-bellied Delhi Police constables, the MP managed to sneak into the small room-cum-prison to meet up Geelani Sahib. Only to get an earful from the bed-ridden paterfamilias, who said what he always says without fear or favour -- with or without Haryanvi cops around -- that Kashmir’s right to self-determination is the final answer to all the questions.

Pic Credits: GN Ratanpuri, Rajya Sabha MP

Interestingly for the entire while that Ratanpuri spent by Geelani’s bedside, he was supposed to talk in Urdu only so that the eavesdropping Haryanvi constables could make sure that no nuclear secrets are changing hands (This being the trust deficit season just before the tourist season). Given the chaste Urdu that Geelani Sahib speaks and drawing from Ratanpuri’s long years at Radio Kashmir, where he spoke into the microphone like a velvet throat, one wonders how much did the poor cops finally pick up?

Did jargon like Haqe-Khud-i-Radyat, Aqwam-i-Mutehda, Bunyaadi Haq, Jazbe Ehsar, Qaabiz Afwaj slightly dull the heads of the special cell cops? We might not know their states of mind! However Ratanpuri, coming as he does from the pro-India camp, after updating his Facebook, revealed truthfully to the media, “Geelani Sahib was lying with pain in left side of his abdomen. With Ortho-collar around his neck he stood up to wish me.” Tells a lot about the grace and fortitude of India’s code orange level threat.

© Sameer