By moving to declare the birthday of Kashmir’s last Dogra ruler, Hari Singh, as a public holiday, the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has ignited another controversy which can snowball anytime into a storm and may result in another bloody unrest in Kashmir. Though Mehbooba could have opposed the resolution but she did not.
Having surrendered the trust of her people and the dignity of her party, she has no option but to keep the BJP happy. The announcement has not only disgraced the Muslim community of J&K but reflects the Hindu right-wing’s growing assertion in the state’s affairs. It has also inflicted a blow to PDP’s credibility in the Valley where the Dogra monarch remains a tyrant.
On July 13 last year, in her first visit as chief minister to Martyrs’ Graveyard in Srinagar, Mehbooba Mufti, while paying tributes to the 21 Kashmiris buried there, described them as “brave heroes” who laid the foundation of democracy in the state.
Now after seven months, she with her Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) joined hands with its alliance partner, BJP, to pass a controversial resolution in the state legislature, calling to declare Hari Singh’s birth anniversary on September 23 a state holiday.
Undoubtedly, Hari Singh was the last Dogra king who retained the title of Maharaja till 1952 and remained stuck in controversies. By the time he rose to power, the peoples’ movement had already picked up against the Dogra regime. Hari Singh remains a controversial figure. During his rule, over two lakh Muslims were massacred in Jammu.
For majority of J&K, Hari Singh was a tyrant who would force people into bonded labour and had deprived them of their rights. For mainland Jammu, the Dogra rule meant the concentration of power in the region and political supremacy over Kashmir.
It is not so that the passing of resolution in recent assembly session has gone unnoticed in the valley. Actually it has added to the regional division among the people of the state. Indeed it is beyond one’s imagination how the victims and the killer can be celebrated simultaneously. For people, a state holiday on his birth anniversary will not only be tantamount to rubbing salt on their wounds but it will also be an utter disregard to the very tenants of democracy.