Sunday, June 19, 2016

What a time to be alive!

In all probability the empress is fasting. Why else would she say then that there are just four bunkers in the valley? Kashmir is a continuous bunker. The state, with a population of slightly more than 10 million, has an estimated 700,000 soldiers, making it perhaps the highest civilian military ratio anywhere in the world. (70:1,000). The American counter insurgency manual says that ratios close to 25:1,000 are enough to achieve geographical dominance. Four bunkers? Like you can’t be serious?

You have to be fasting. Or anxious. In two days the Anantnag constituency will go to bypolls. Miss Mufti, the incumbent CM of J&K, is likely to win. According to press reports, between 50 to 100 people gathered at different spots during her road trips. Complete with paraphernalia, Miss Mufti’s Mama ji and other PDP stalwarts are camping in the constituency, criss-crossing villages, galvanizing voters. Raj Babbar has also arrived to campaign. New Delhi-based TV channels are itching to call it ‘Return of Peace’. They just can’t wait.

Even as Ramzan and polls concur in the South of Kashmir, everyone and his uncle who might have dissented and spoken otherwise, are under lock and key. Democracy is a clever sahar-khawn. It knows where to beat its drums. It would be insane, for instance, to let Geelani sahib, out of Hyderpora. Not only will people pour out in droves, he might actually put his fierce Urdu to a devastating effect. Best to keep pro-freedom leadership from upsetting the TV achors, who have specially flown from Delhi. Iftar parties, after all, cannot be a vinegary affair.

Even if 5% of those who attend a fallen rebel’s funeral were to vote, one would call it representative. The fact is that people don’t really enjoy this panoply of farce upon a farce. Yes, putting all the state machinery to use for over a month, wandering from village to village, panchayat to panchayat, does provide for some lazy Ramzan-time entertainment, but it means little if you don’t address the lament in people’s hearts; their aspirations and hopes.

Back in Srinagar a school founded by DP Dhar’s son shall now tell us how to dress. In the middle of Ramzan. This is 2016, not 1971.