Governance and democracy in Kashmir

Do the two go well in our part of the world

Javid Ahmad Ahanger
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 10 2017 10:09PM | Updated Date: Dec 10 2017 10:09PM
Governance and democracy in KashmirFile Photo

When rulers ignore the problems of their people, they are doomed sooner than later. Those in power seem least bothered about the welfare of people. In our state, one political party will oppose everything; another party will do or say simply for the sake of opposition. Earlier People’s Democratic Party (PDP) talked of self-rule, people to people contact, Good-Governance, and peace process between Indian and Pakistan. Now, in the office for the last three and half years, state is still suffering from series of crisis. The state saw revival of militancy which is on rise despite the hardcore policies of armed forces and Central government. People are protesting on daily basis. Killing innocent civilians during encounters have become norm of the day in present Kashmir. The government is least visible when it comes to the question of public problems. It looks like, we are again in the mid of 1990’s when there was no governance in the state and martial law was imposed. 

Although the mess created by previous governments in the state especially NC’s legacy, haunts us even today. The spread of institutional corruption and misuse of legal authority is the direct consequences of direct or indirect involvement of Centre from time to time in the internal affairs of the state.  The organized and institutional corruption by none-other than the politicians and bureaucrats in the state have plundered the state and continue to do so. 

 In the past history of the state, the frail mainstream leaders of the political parties and un-democratic leaders with authoritarian nature of politics established the state of nature as depicted by Thomas Hobbes, where there was only chaos, destruction, pain, sufferings and what not. The legacy was somehow breakdown in 2002 but the negative political developments in the state from 2008 again created democratic as well as governance deficit in the state. It is also fact that the governments from its beginning that is Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah to present Day Mufti-led Coalition were/is inefficient as well as nurtured by the Centre to fulfil their dreams of integration of the state with Union of India. The single party dominance under NC without any check and balance created hegemonic and authoritarian rule, as there was hardly any sincere political oppositions who could have fight for people’s rights and governance. 

One crucial factor of our state’s subjugation and being in deep trouble is, because our mainstream political parties be it NC, PDP, State Congress, or some other small groups are elitist in nature and character. These political forces always promote the patronage there selfish interest rather than prevent the state to bring it out of what one calls no-governance. The state was treated more on national interest paradigm than on democratic lines. That serves only elitists class and their interests in the state. So to have faith in such institutions are nothing, but a dream of the blind person who even after operated can’t see what the reality is. Although, state has lost much of its resources and time in fighting corrupt administrations and inefficient leaders, but New-Delhi from time to time has been exploiting our internal weaknesses and flaws. The Centre finds it easy to replace one weak administration with another weak and incompetent.  

 The period of Farooq Abdullah from 1996-2002 of NC’s rule was only on white-papers. The collapse of administration and institutions in the state was a major problem created by the counter insurgency operations against armed struggle. The use of black laws like AFSPA, PSA, TADA and POTA further created legitimacy crises in the state.  People got ruthlessly killed by the state apparatuses and institutions which lead to the more violent movements and anger among the people in the valley. The serious human rights violations and disappearance also created alienation and rift between the people and the institutions of the state. The advent of PDP led coalition government in 2002 to 2008 somehow changed the old model of governance. Because this was the period of thaw between Indo-Pak relations, as several peace building measures were taken by both the countries which showed the positive signs in Kashmir also. The Amarnath land row agitation in 2008, the Shopian tragedy in 2009 and 2010 uprising again moulded the state in new political directions and governance remain at back seat. The state institutions were hardly operative according to the law of the land. The collapse of both NC and Congress coalition in the 2014 assembly elections and emergence of present BJP and PDP Coalition government did nothing in improving the governance and institutional building in the state. The 2016 revolt after the killing of Burhan Wani and endless day to day protects in the state further put governance in the back seat. The institutions of the state are hardly functioning; one can say there is complete catastrophe of governance in all fronts be it executive, legislature and judiciary. 

Is this democracy? The ‘Preachers of Democracy’ and ‘Good Governance’ are living comfortable and safe life in their palaces. There is hardly any organized attempt from the state government as well as from the other state institutions to counter the miss-governance and bad governance. In fact there is no concept of good governance or bad governance what we have in Kashmir is simply there is no governance. Governance requires diligence, struggle and stringent actions not press statements of political parties. Alas! Rest is History. Which needs no Description. 

Note: This Article has been taken from My Research Paper entitled “Governance, Autonomy and Armed Rebellion in Kashmir: An Appraisal.” Presented by author in International Conference on “Good Governance: Initiatives, Challenges and Prospects.” Organized by Department of Public Administration, Punjabi University, Patiala, on 13th November, 2017)


(Javid Ahmad Ahanger is a Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University.)

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