Politics

Regional Leaders in Detention, Parliament's Nod to Kashmir Restricted to Poetry, Hats

President Ram Nath Kovind has donned a traditional Kashmiri cap while finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has quoted verses by a Kashmiri poet.

New Delhi: On Saturday, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman quoted a verse by Kashmiri poet Dina Nath Kaul about the “blooming lotus in Dal Lake”, while she presented the Union Budget 2020-2021.

Sitharaman quoting Kaul stirred up a controversy since the Kashmiri author had risen to prominence for praising Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah, whose son and grandson have been in custody by the Indian government for the last six months.

Similarly, on January 31, President Ram Nath Kovind, in an ostensible attempt to appropriate Kashmir, donned a karakuli, a traditional Kashmiri cap, for his speech at the joint session of the parliament, where he not only praised the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and but also the government’s decision to scrap Article 370, fermenting unrest between the opposition and treasury benches.

Also read: Parliament Set for Turbulent Debate as Opposition Moves Amendments to Kovind’s Speech

As the BJP continues to make brazen claims about integrating Jammu and Kashmir, efforts to usher in theatrics to that end have made a comeback with Kashmiri poetry and karakuli.

In the fiscal year 2019-2020, the state administration council headed by the then governor Satya Pal Malik had approved Rs 88,911 crore budget for Jammu and Kashmir, however this year even when the Centre planned to re-structure and re-organise the entire state machinery, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman only proposed an allocation of Rs 30,757 crore for Jammu and Kashmir, and Rs 5,958 crore for Ladakh for fiscal 2020-21.

At a time when the state of Jammu and Kashmir is reeling from fear and insecurities about the future, the most that the Centre has been able to do is claim a culture that lies forgotten under lockdown and has cut back massively on a much-needed expenditure budget.

With 17 political leaders and activists under detention at the MLA hostel including IAS topper Shah Faesal, BJP’s ex ally and People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone, PDP leader Naeem Akhtar, PDP youth leader Waheed-Ur-Rehman Para and several other leaders since August 5, 2019, BJP’s political leadership seems to be making an attempt to re-package itself as the voice of Kashmir, even as three former chief ministers serve time under detention – one of them being the only ever woman chief minister of the state, Mehbooba Mufti.