This Shift Is The Real Thing
UT Administration took calculated risks, facilitated Muharram processions
The LG Administration focused on what truly is the essence of good governance. One, foresight and clarity. Second, strategy and management
The Muharram procession this year presented a different picture than what we have been accustomed to for long.
Till yesterday, it was beyond imagination that the government would ever allow the mourners to carry out peaceful processions across Kashmir valley. One could not imagine that the Administration would not only allow smooth Muharram processions but also facilitate and provide logistics to the people who participated in processions.
The Sad Past
For decades, the J&K government would impose harsh restrictions in place in all Shia dominated areas to ensure a peaceful Muharram procession. Police and the security forces would opt for excessive measures to disperse the processions. The unwarranted restrictions and use of brute force would invite the wrath of the protesting mourners. They would engage in pitched battles with the police and security forces.
Then the aftermath of the procession. The use of excessive force would result in injuries to hundreds of protesters. Hundreds more were put under preventive custody. No regime whatsoever dared to allow Muharram processions. There is no denying the fact that unscrupulous elements would mix among the peaceful mourners for political motive to create law and order problems. But the fact remains that the majority of the people would come out to participate in processions purely on the bases of their faith and unflinching love for the Imams.
For days together, the situation in Kashmir would remain grim. The peaceful mourners would feel sad and suffocated by the harsh measures. Their religious sentiments were hurt for not being allowed to peacefully take out the Muharram procession. Still carrying the anger, they would come out to pelt stones on the security forces.
Then there was the other aspect to the aftermath of the harsh restrictions. Senior government officers, particularly the Deputy Commissioners and the District Superintendents of Police (DSPs) would go for photo-ops with the community and religious leaders to falsely project that the situation is normal. This would only add salt to the injuries of the aggrieved Shia community and would fan the alienation.
The New Dawn
The New Dawn is a much-used cliché. In this context, it fits. For the first time, the Administration took calculated risks and allowed the Moharram processions in all Shia-dominated areas, particularly in Srinagar and Budgam districts. While keeping a close vigil on the procession and not allowing unscrupulous elements to highjack the events, the administration did a commendable job in facilitating the Muharram procession on the designated routes.
It is a matter of immense relief that there were not many attempts to sabotage the peaceful procession. This was largely possible because of the fact that the government agencies had done excellent homework in isolating the trouble mongers.
This template should have been adopted decades ago. This is exactly how the previous regimes should have facilitated the Muharram processions. It is a universal phenomenon that to do away with the fears, you need to squarely face them. It turns out that the fears were small, only their shadows were huge.
However, the so-called popular regimes never bothered to come out of the fears and face the reality. Their loftily-placed advisors in police and civil administration always advised them against granting permission for the Muharram processions.
Breaking the tired precedent set by the so-called popular regimes, the LG Administration chose to think new and allowed Muharram processions all across Kashmir valley. This administration too had fears of eruption of unruly elements. But the LG Administration focused on what truly is the essence of good governance. One, foresight and clarity. Second, strategy and management.
Those advisers and officers who did not allow these processions in the past should bow their heads in shame for mismanaging the otherwise simple tasks