Author: Saadut
•10:32 PM

The emperor had heard the prediction that this year’s ‘unusually extended spring’ season was already over; summer had crossed the Borijal passes south of the kingdom. The white elephant army had recently moved the Terra throne from the winter palaces of Jamarkand to the summer gardens of his kingdom. But no sooner had the emperor come to the summer gardens city, that he was disturbed and annoyed by the babble of this place; packs of wolves masquerading as dogs running amok in a major part of this city, babies being lost in  another part. Even before he could enjoy the ‘spring in summer’ air, he had had enough of this ‘cheap clamor’ of commoners. In earlier times kings would escape to the hunt of the wild when scorching heat invaded their capitals; in today’s modern times, jungles of concrete had become the hunting grounds. So where could the emperor escape to from this noise? He tried the snow horse on the western peaks, but then boredom gave away by the evening.

The Emperors work affairs had diminished since much of it had been outsourced already; his local ‘awami durbars’ had since long been handed over to the cavalry who held them with alarming frequency, the talent hunt and skill development work of commoner youth had been handed over to the kotwali. Remaining works of administrative matters in quietitude were being handled by the Jaagirdaars while all proclamations of the kingdom were managed by the celestial tablet - spirituality of the ‘Apple’ God had been invoked here. 
As a guardian of the kingdom, this role had been predestined for the Emperor; but he had gone further than earlier Kings to this throne by the fierce distribution of governance down the line, seemingly to ‘force ensure’ order. Such an arrangement ensured he had enough time to pursue his interests; he loved horses of different breeds most of them Nordic or German studs, chuckled at happenings in faraway kingdoms and of course he had his companion the mystical tablet. But still he felt the need to break away from this routine of the palace-to-courtroom monotony.

One of those cloudy and pouring evenings, when rain drenches the commoners’ rags all the way to his skin, when babies sleep to rain lullabies, the Royal Tarot reader was summoned. Knowing that without the Emperor there would be no Imperial dictum, the Royal Tarot reader would sometimes predict when there were no predictable predictions worth predicting, but since the job of prediction was linked to his survival, the Tarot predicted out of parroted instinct. Considering this prediction was supposed to surpass the boundaries of the city din, the Tarot reader cast a view far beyond it. Some days ago the Tarot reader had come to know of a wedding that was to take place by the edge of the northern peaks, in the house of a Zamindaar (who owed his power existence and allegiance to the Emperors nomination and appointment). The northern peaks were what had remained as the farthest border end of this kingdom after it had been divided in war between two Siamese twins decades ago. It was here that the shallow stream had become unbridgeable since then. 
“Badshah Salamat” the Tarot reader submitted “by the northern peaks there lays a fragrant meadow with fresh air, where the noise of this city will not penetrate. Here, where the summer air has no dominance over the spring breeze, a feast has been ordained in your honor and you have been destined to relish that. Take the lead mighty Emperor, and take your viziers and nobles along, for this shall bring good fortune to your throne.” The Emperor was delighted “a feast in my honor?” “Yes Baadshah Salamat, a feast! On the night the skies are clear, when the half moon shall appear to beam like a solitaire and clouds have given way to a clear sky, the celestial tablet shall announce your travel”

The Tarot cards having been pronounced, the celestial tablet made the proclamation. The feast took half a day to relish, after four days of arranging and cleaning. The Zamindaar host elevated and spirited has been virtually sleepwalking since the Emperor relished his feast. At the feast, the Emperor announced a new horse track for the meadow where even a place was marked for the foundation stone. Villagers of this meadow quietly hope that the foundation stone will be laid sometime in the future.

Back in the garden city, the noise continues undiminished, hence the Emperor has asked the Royal Tarot reader to foresee and predict more such expeditions. Meanwhile the cavalry and the kotwali continue to run the affairs of kingdom, pack of wolves cloaked as dogs still continue to terrorize the city dwellers, babies are still being lost here.

Soon it will be time for the white elephants to carry the Terra throne to the winter palaces and everything will continue here as before…

Long live the kingdom! 

31st May, 2012

P.S *This is a work of fiction and resemblance to any person / event / kingdom / throne is purely coincidental and unintentional*

Author: Saadut
•4:04 PM

Recently the interlocutors released their recipe for Kashmir, titled ‘A new compact with the people of J&K’. Ironically their ‘recipe’ document neither was ‘compact’ nor had anything ‘new’ in it.  On the contrary this document came out as one the most botched up recopies sold in the name of ‘Kashmir’. But why blame the ‘Interlocutor Troika’ for this mess, blame the Wazwan team that could not teach them the intricacies of this Kashmiri feast. Remember not only is the preparing of Kashmiri Wazwan a fine art, enjoying this delicacy also needs skills, and it’s lack of these ‘Koshur skills’ that led to the delayed indigestion in the form of ‘New Compact report’.

The suspense associated with the release of this report proved to be all gas and flatulence, aftereffects of a bad meal. Not only had the ingredients in this report been botched up but their placement also was utterly unpalatable. No I am not talking about the repeated spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in the report, which also highlight the utter lack of interest in preparing it; I am pointing to the lack of vision and focus of this team. The report not only misses ‘Kashmir problems and resolution’ by miles, it tries hands at every other coloring ingredient to misrepresent it. The report tries at everything Kashmir, but achieves nothing in the end, a long form essay which could fetch not even zero marks.

The report claims “met the leadership of both large and small, national and regional political parties, received over 700 delegations of community representatives comprising around 6,000 people, including around 1,000 Sarpanches and Panches” (page 11). Ironically most of the people they met here belonged to the mainstream political discourse, who seem to have no (or minimal political) grievance with the State of India. Majority of people in Kashmir who challenge the applicability of Indian political structure in Kashmir were left out of Interlocutors reach, leaving this quest for a ‘Kashmir solution’ absolutely half hearted. The report claims “Our interactions with the heads of the police, para-military forces and the Army were most insightful.” Remember the interlocutors’ team was put in place after the 2010 mayhem and clearly such ‘insight’ fogged away the real picture on ground zero in Kashmir.  Even in many public meetings that the interlocutors held across rural Kashmir, there have been reports of people resorting to pro freedom slogans calling for a political solution to Kashmir, which should have given the Interlocutors a fair idea of the pulse on ground.
While the report claimed “The political settlement we propose takes into full account the deep sense of victimhood prevalent in the Kashmir Valley”, it offers no ‘political solution’ in reality. On the contrary the report gets lost in its own contradictions. From ‘temporary’ status to ‘special’ the report becomes a victim of paranoia, of an intent to ‘print, present and consign to shelf’ like all earlier Kashmir reports. While indulging in the 370 linguistic jugglery of ‘temporary’ and ‘special’, the group forgot what Nehru had said “"I say with all respect to our Constitution that it just does not matter what your Constitution says; if the people of Kashmir do not want it, it will not go there. Because what is the alternative? The alternative is compulsion and coercion..." (Selected works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol. 18, p. 418).

For all these decades, since New Delhi could not abrogate 370 legally, it indulged in the gradual erosion of this article by ways of political fraud and deceit. What is presently left of the article is a farce of the original one, and by rebranding it to ‘special’ would not restore any of its rights and powers in Kashmir. Years of political chicanery by New Delhi was now reduced to a cross word by Interlocutors. Incidentally Article 370 cannot be abrogated or amended without the concurrence of the State government (assembly) and ratification by its Constituent Assembly. And for those ‘notion’alists’ seeking abrogation of 370 should know that Article 1 of the constitution is applied on Jammu and Kashmir via Article 370 (J&K being mentioned along with other states of Union in the 1st Schedule as Article 1 (2)).  So what would be the effect of abrogation of 370 here, secession?
The interlocutor report proposed setting up of separate regional councils for Ladakh, Kashmir and Jammu (page 49) while at the same time expressed “the Shia dominated district in Kargil is wary of Buddhist-dominated Leh (both in Ladakh division)” (page 36). The report clearly attempted to create divisions while pointing to further ‘friction laden’ micro divisions in these proposed divisions. Were their recommendations aimed at resolving or dividing to fuel further conflict?

The group’s assertion that “AFSPA is more the symbol of a problem than its cause” (page 101) shows the level of disconnect they suffer from. They fail to recognize that AFSPA is a tool used not only for muzzling genuine voices including political opponents but also for shielding those state arms guilty of crimes against humanity. Their ‘review of DA and AFSPA’ should have instead been a call for total revocation of such a draconian act.

Interlocutors have again used the ‘record pilgrim and tourist inflow’ (page 15) barometer for marking the return of peace and normalcy in Kashmir, forgetting that even during the peak of 2009 and 2010 turmoil, pilgrim traffic largely remained unaffected in Kashmir. Failure to see and accept the facts results in an utter failure to suggest remedial measures; when the diagnosis is wrong the remedy will unfailingly fail.
While the team has accepted that “Alienation runs very deep in the Valley” (page 19), it has failed to suggest any roadmap to address this alienation and disconnect. Perhaps the team was as disconnected from the ground situation in Kashmir as much as Kashmir is disconnected from New Delhi.

A recipe costing 37 Lac rupees per page (the 172 page report incurred about 50 Crore rupees according to reports) and failed in inception was surely not for the platter of Kashmir. Such aimless exercises are a waste of public money, time and media slots. Blame the state Wazwan that was fed to them for such a gastronomical aftereffects blunder. Soon a new committee will be formed on the gathered dust; to debate, to relish, to deceive and to be again consigned to forgetfulness.

The Wazwan show goes on.

28th May, 2012