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Will Altaf Bukhari’s ‘Apni Party’ Win The Trust Of The People Of J&K?

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The new party led by Former PDP minister Altaf Bukhari is striving hard to find their political space in the already troubled waters of Kashmir. It came at a time when all political, democratic processes were put to halt after the historic decision of August 5.

But one should be very well versed in the politics of Kashmir. Kashmir politics has always been crafted through the opportunist school of thought, the term first documented by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, the first Chief Minister of the state who disagreed with Abdullah’s advocacy of independence for the state in 1953, and later staged a ‘coup with the help of the Head of State Karan Singh, thus resulting in the dismissal and imprisonment of Sheikh Abdullah.

The same goes for Farooq Abdullah and now Altaf Bukhari, the new faithful master of New Delhi in Kashmir hungry for the same power and opportunity. It is not even surprising that Altaf Bukhari wants to follow Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad’s simplistic political maxim – be on the right side of New Delhi, and rule according to their terms and conditions. That is why intellectuals in Kashmir identify him as a new BJP personality in Kashmir. For that, he has already started the process. The new BJP man in Kashmir is on the way for a new political course of action, which is on one side aiming at winning the hearts of people and on another side, being a yes man of centre.

Former PDP minister Altaf Bukhari formed a new party ‘Apni Party’. Photo: PTI

To gain emotional support from the people of Jammu & Kashmir and political support from BJP, Altaf Bukhari along with his party delegation met PM Modi and HM Amit shah in New Delhi to have a threadbare discussion on specific issues like restoration of statehood, safeguarding of domicile rights and other core issues.

The irony is that both Supreme leaders assured the delegation the same empty promises, hollow assurances which they are busy selling after 370.

Remember how the Prime minister of the country very cleverly deceived and befooled the most senior leader, two times CM of state and current MP Farooq Abdullah? Before August 5, Farooq Abdullah led delegation went to meet Modi in New Delhi at the time when apprehensions regarding scrapping of article 370 and 35A were doing rounds. During their meeting in New Delhi, Mr.Modi assured him that nothing is going to happen with Article 370. They have no such plan in mind.

Barely two days after Modi’s assurance, his dreams were shattered, and he saw himself along with almost all foremost leaders in jail. The new history of Kashmir was already written and shaped; Article 370 and 35A were gone, so was the erstwhile state of J&K. With Altaf Bukhari in the fray and consultation with BJP, he is now toeing the same lines and following the same footsteps and path that the former masters of New Delhi in Kashmir have done during these years. Still, he forgets to remember the fate of these leaders now.

The irony is that Mr Modi’s swords and false promises touched Altaf Bukhari so deep that he did not hesitate to praise Modi and even said that Modi’ss heart beats for the people of J&K. Still, he did not know that the words are not healing Kashmiris but are adding salt to the already infected wounds. These double standards and manufactured narratives are the base of political gimmick in India, and BJP is master of this. Still, unfortunately for the lust of power, Altaf Bukhari is falling in the same trap.

Remember, history is also witnessed to the end number of promises made to the Kashmiris by successive governments at the centre. But time and time again, Kashmiris were betrayed by new Delhi under the shade of its leaders. The promises made to Kashmiris only remain confined to headlines of media and, for that matter, discussed and deliberated upon but were never fulfilled.
People also remember the empty Promise of Nehru that he made to the people of Kashmir in the historical ‘Lal Chowk’ about the right to self-determination. And the same false promise and trust were sold to Kashmiri people in the name of constitutional safeguards. With time that too became hollow.

Mr.Modi had assured that nothing is going to happen with Article 370. They have no such plan in mind. Representational image. Photo by Nitin Kanotra/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The tale of false promises is not new. It started soon after the accession when maharaja Hari Singh’s accession conditions were not obeyed and respected rather was fulfilled by India inversely, first by downgrading PM to CM, President to the governor and now to LG governor and an old state to union territory that too by undemocratic means betraying their constitution.

On the other hand, with colonial context, India has always managed to lure Kashmiris successfully either through power and money or coerced for various reasons. In turn, these people with their vested interests have exploited their people. In this manner, India has so cleverly chalked out “divide and rule” policymaking that it looks like the face of Indian hypocrisy and deception in Kashmir have been Kashmiris themselves.

To satisfy their collective consciousness, every time successful governments at New Delhi have befooled their masters in Kashmir with empty promises.

In the Kashmiri context and vocabulary, these people are known as “collaborators.” From political elites to bureaucrats, police, and intelligence officials, as well as varying journalists and civil society “activists” and counterinsurgency groups and informers, India has identified collaborators in every field and phase of insurgency. With Article 370 gone and J &K already a union territory, Altaf Bukhari’s new party is limiting their scope to what is achievable under these circumstances and also keeping in view the New Delhi’s stand on these issues.

But will he be able to garner the support of people and win their trust? As of now, it all seems impossible.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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