Keep It (The Tiranga) In Your House
The political, social and security ramifications of reckless statements by Kashmir’s politicians
In early July, former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah was asked about his stand on the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign of GOI. The campaign aims to inspire Indians everywhere to hoist the national flag at their home and deepen their bond with nationhood.
“Keep it (the Tiranga) in your house,” Abdullah responded. The video of his mocking answer went viral.
Farooq Abdullah’s reckless response to the question is a matter of concern. Siding with the separatist narrative overtly or being complicit with it has been the default setting of the political figures of Kashmir.
When in power, the same politicians are hard core nationalists. This is in clear contrast to their posturing before and during the elections. At poll time, all red lines are breached, and these politicians flagrantly raise the passions of the electorate and pollute their minds, leading them further towards separatism.
This has been the constant benchmark of Kashmir politics. There has been method in this madness. Such posturing has helped these political families of Kashmir to retain power by rotation. Such talk gives them leverage, because most of the ambitious political competitors of Kashmir are lured by Pakistan. This is precisely why a counted few political families have ruled Kashmir for decades.
Security Ramifications Of Abdullah’s Response
I am concerned by the security ramifications of such irresponsible statements by Farooq Abdullah or other politicians of Kashmir. Such statements nourish the pro-Pakistan constituency in Kashmir. Among the radicalized and indoctrinated people – especially the youth – such statements normalize soft or hardline separatism with India. They give credence to Pakistan’s carefully constructed anti-India narrative in Kashmir.
Such thoughtless remarks by Kashmir’s politicians strengthen the anti-India constituency of Kashmir, fattened by Pakistan over the years. Kashmir’s anti-India constituency had been losing ground after the abrogation of Article 370. Such responses give it legitimacy and space.
The Impact On Kashmir’s Social Matrix
These dynamics impact the social matrix of Kashmir. The young men indoctrinated to be foot soldiers of jihad get an additional boost. They find validation that they are headed in the right direction. The hot blood of youth makes them join the terror ecosystem as militants, hybrid militants or as over-ground workers.
This is how such reckless responses lead to security ramifications for the country. More space for anti-India sentiments feed the alienation in Kashmir. Some of the alienated youth join terror ranks. In turn, more action is required from the Army, JK Police and the anti-insurgency forces to neutralize the militants.
The more we have home-grown militants, the more Pakistan gets easy grist for its narrative that militancy in Kashmir is home-grown.
The deliberate and deep indoctrination by a section of religious preachers, the separatism embedded by Jamaat e Islami and other such religio-political groups – all of it bankrolled by Pakistan – is shoved under the carpet. Pakistan continues to sell internationally its lies on Kashmir.
Consequences For Unfortunate Parents
Reports of some Kashmiri youngster having joined militancy are usually accompanied by shrieking and wailing parents, siblings and relatives. This is the dichotomy within Kashmir society. The Kashmiris who identify with the Pakistan narrative are happy to see local boys join the terror ranks – as long as the boys are not from their own family or clan.
Over more than 30 years of conflict, there are thousands of examples where men who breathed fire against India and drove youth into militancy ranks ensured that their own sons and daughters are have plush government jobs. Slowly, Kashmiris have woken up to this reality.
But in poor homes where education is poor and global awareness is low, the boys still get sucked into the terror ecosystem in the name of jihad, leaving parents wailing and without support in their old years.
Abdullah’s Statement Impacts How Kashmiris Are Perceived In The Rest Of India
Abdullah’s statement also went viral in other parts of India. He is among the few Vocals of Kashmir – the ones who words are amplified by the media. In other parts of the country, all those who watch Abdullah’s comment think – all Kashmiris are the same.
Indians at large do not like this mocking response to the pride of their nationhood – the Tiranga. Such statements by Kashmir’s politicians create a negativity bias against the Kashmiris in the mainland. It has been observed globally that negativity bias has to potential to incite violence at times of provocation. By mocking India’s nationhood, irresponsible politicians of Kashmir make the ground fertile for negativity bias against the Kashmiris in the mainland.