What is a total giveaway that the rally of Home Minister Amit Shah in Kashmir has been a rocking success? It’s the near total silence of the major political parties of Kashmir regarding the rally.
A day after the jalsa, JK National Conference only responded with a tweet listing the achievements of the NC government during its years in power. The tweet came in response to the statement made by the Home Minister, asking JKNC President Dr. Farooq Abdullah to account for the work done during the party’s rule in the erstwhile state. PDP did not post any direct response to the home minister’s rally.
The reason is that the rally of the Home Minister has – as the Americans say it – kinda shaken the political players in Kashmir. During conversations on the subject, Kashmiris told me that about half the people who had come for the rally had reached there of their own volition. All of them had not been bussed in.
The rally ground was Showkat Ali Stadium in the heart of Baramulla.
A Surprise For The Kashmiris Themselves
The fact is that the massive rally of Home Minister Amit Shah has come as a surprise to Kashmiris themselves. For people across the nation, the successful rally of the Home Minister in Kashmir would have been a passing national headline for a day. They would have watched the news with interest and then moved on to other national and international headlines.
The Kashmiris know the significance of the Home Minister’s well-attended rally in Baramulla. This is the belt labeled as the terror hub – one of the most radicalized areas of the valley.
News publications and TV channels across the nation were astounded to watch the willingness of the Kashmiris present on the spot to respond to nationalist slogans raised during the rally. The people were enthusiastic and vocal in their response, and this startling phenomenon of the day was noted by all political observers.
The Baramulla Scene From The Family Man
Let us put things in context. In the hugely popular TV thriller The Family Man which streamed on Amazon Live, Bollywood star Manoj Bajpayee plays the title role. A short video from the thriller series went viral in Kashmir, and more so in Baramulla.
In the video, Bajpayee is informed by a deputy that a terrorist is coming to attend a wedding in a village near Baramulla. The deputy says the anti-terror force will have to wait outside the village to catch hold of the terrorist. Bajpayee asks his deputy with confusion, “Why can’t we get into the wedding to catch him?”
The dialogue of a cop of JK Police follows. “Sir, Baramulla ko mini Pakistan kehte hain. Har ghar har dukaan ke bahar likha hota hai ‘Go India Go Back’,” This is what Baramulla has been. Nobody would believe that there has been any transformation at ground level.
The rally of the Home Minister changed the perception
In this area where alienation is supposed to be high, a sizable number of Kashmiris turned up voluntarily to attend the political rally of Mr. Amit Shah – one of the titans of the BJP.
This is the reason why this jalsa will remain more than just a day’s headline. In Kashmir, the reverberations of the Home Minister’s successful rally are here to stay. The rally is not just the talk of the town. In this highly politically conscious region, the success of the Home Minister’s rally continues to be talked about across the Union Territory.
Development Initiatives Have Raised Expectations
So why did Kashmiris want to attend the rally of the home minister? One major reason is that the steady work on the development initiatives of the UT Administration is no secret in the Valley. There have been a higher reach-out by diverse departments of the UT Administration for people’s welfare. As a result, the expectations of the people have risen.
It is because of these development initiatives that people’s expectations from the Centre have deepened. The local political parties have remained busy in spreading gloom and doom where the Centre is concerned, but the common man is wise. The common man sees that there is a difference at ground level.
Finally, above all political rhetoric, the common Kashmiri wants the same that people across the nation or even the globe want – stability and prosperity for the self and the family. The terror graph is significantly lower. The incidence of terror attacks has gone down. There is greater transparency in government recruitment.
With all these developments, the people and especially the youth now have hope that something good may follow. The positivity of hope encouraged them to attend the Home Minister’s rally.
A Door Has Opened
With the political rally of the Home Minister in Kashmir, a door has opened. As a political leader of a Valley-based party told me, “Government ke upar logon ka bharosa ho gaya hai. People have begun trusting the government. They know now that if we speak up about our demands and expectations, someone will listen to us.”
It was interesting to note that this observation was coming from a political leader who is not from BJP. And he did not want that his name should be revealed. Nevertheless, he told me that before this rally, the people were caught in a kind of pinjra imposed around them by the National Conference and by the PDP.
“Most Kashmiris used to think that they will not get a chance to make their voice heard. They used to think that only the voices of Abdullah or Mufti prevail at the Centre. But now people have got a new umeed that they are heard. They have hope that their voices, their problems, their demands, and aspirations matter,” said the political leader. This is a big shift, and this must be acknowledged.