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May 31, 2016

Watered Down Verdicts Will Make Drought Drama Recur

[This is an AHRC Article.]
The Supreme Court’s rap to the Union and to various state governments for their apathy to drought victims is welcome. But, it is akin to a few drops sprinkled onto a parched desert under the oversight of unconscious executive governance.
The verdict in the writ petition, filed by Swaraj Abhiyan on 11 May 2016 (Swaraj Abhiyan v. Union of India and Ors, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 857 of 2015) reaffirms what civil society organisations have been saying for long. The Court has chided both the Union and state governments for showing “lack of will” to combat drought, and singles out a select few states for displaying an “ostrich like attitude”. This verdict, however, does not address the lack of structural remedies offering redress if governments fail their duties in the future as well.
The verdict confirms the set pattern of government response to drought, something civil society organisations like the Asian Human Rights Commission have pointed out. The judgment recognises various stages in this pretence: deny the drought; take ages to “declare it” officially, without which no relief measures can be deployed; and then announce cosmetic measures like disaster tours, or rush water trains that at times have no water in them, in order to be seen to be doing something, anything. Often this drama makes damage irreparable.
What the Court has not done is provide any mechanism for redress for victims of recurrent drought. It seems the Supreme Court stopped short of going all the way for fear its verdict would get construed as “judicial overreach into the executive and legislature’s domain” and therefore opposed by the political establishment of the country.
The ginger approach, however, has not worked for two reasons. First, it is the very failure of the Executive, and of the Legislature, in combating drought, year after year, which has put more than 33 crore Indians (as per the government’s conservative estimate) into a life of unimaginable hardship, punctuated by starvation death, suicide, and death by other means. Second, the political establishment led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has anyway come down heavily on the Judiciary. In rare unity, opposition benches joined up with the treasury.
The Supreme Court would have done well to remind the Executive that it is Executive failure that brought the matter to Court. Hesitation in doing so and hesitation in offering redress to victims abandoned by governments, therefore, undercuts the promise of a welcome verdict.
The Court has backed-off despite reminding the Union government of the futility of trying to “wash its hands off”, quoting federalism on aspects pertaining to “Article 21 of the Constitution”, which guarantees the right to life for Indian citizens. However, the duty of upholding the same Article applies to the Court as well.
And, this is not the only time the Supreme Court of India has hit the nail on the problem but failed to provide redress. The social justice bench of the court has repeatedly lamented the “mismatch” among wonderful schemes and their implementation on the ground; it’s orders on the functioning of the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG), also known as SABLA, on child malnutrition, on MNREGA, and amongst the numerous that immediately spring to mind.
And whenever the Court has provided redress, it has done so in piecemeal and stopgap arrangements. This is exactly what it did when ordering the union government, on 13 May 2016, to immediately release funds for payment of pending wages to the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) and to extend the Mid-Day Meal Scheme that provides at least one meal to school going children even during the summer vacations. Such stopgap arrangements may save lives in the immediate. However, they do not honour the right to life with dignity, which Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees, and which the Executive rarely chooses to uphold for the poorer citizens of the country.
In itself not upholding the Article, such Court verdicts become empty rhetoric, plastering back a tattered façade of order over a dysfunctional Republic. It adds just another loop in the recurrent motion victims of the system are condemned to undergo: the next drought, followed by the next wave of apathy and inaction, followed by the next civil society group rushing to the Supreme Court with a PIL, followed by the next watered down verdict.

May 12, 2016

Where helplines are in need of help themselves

[This is an AHRC Statement.]
Hello. On 9 May 2016, Tanya Shrivastava, a 21-year-old journalism student, made a distress call to 1091, the toll free womens’ helpline. An intern with The Times of India, a prominent Indian newspaper, Tanya had just survived an attempted kidnapping right outside her newspaper office. As she dialled, her kidnapper was trying to get way.
What happened next? Did she get help? Was her attacker caught? Did one of the most prominent steps taken for enhancing safety of the women – following the infamous 16 December 2012 gang rape and murder of a Delhi student – deliver what she needed?
These are questions of hope. And, may they be blessed. But, they can only be asked if one chooses to remain ignorant of what happens to public institutions and structures in India over time. In short, the answer is no. Her call did not even connect.
Before disengaging, consider another recent case. A Delhi High Court judge caught in a massive traffic jam dialled the national 'dial 100' helpline service of the police. His call did connect. Hooray! But, it was not answered by anyone, despite his holding the line for over 5 minutes. Exasperated, he wrote to both the City Police Chief and the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. The Chief Justice took suo moto cognizance of the distress call getting unanswered and converted his letter into a Public Interest Litigation. So now we have one more case – about an unanswered call – to add to 3 crore cases pending unresolved.
Now you can put this on hold, but remember that the third brainchild of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the aftermath of 16 December 2013 case has not even taken-off yet. On the basis of the recommendations of Justice Verma Committee, the MHA called for establishing a Nationwide Emergency Response System. The Justice Verma Committee envisaged that the public emergency response system would have the ability to dispatch an Emergency Response unit to respond to and close an Emergency call. Today, over a year since the plan was announced, the MHA has yet to find a service provider for the scheme. Last heard, the invited bids had been cancelled in January 2016.
One could argue these are crank calls, aberrations to the norm. But, these would ignore the overwhelming reality. More reports like this prove it. This is the typical response of the system for those in distress, seeking help from those duty-bound to provide it. Why these facts became news, is because prominent people were distressed, one a budding journalist and the other a High Court judge. They had access to the media that could vent their ire. Most Indian citizens are not so fortunate.
What if the man who was attempting to kidnap the journalist returned, the helpline phone call having failed? This is not a hypothetical scenario. It recurs in reality, and happened on that night on 16 December 2012 too, when the distress calls went unanswered, and the end result was something that horrified the nation and the world.
The fault is not with the helplines or those handling them. Follow the nest of wires to the source. It is the very character of the public institutions we have built and sustained where the problems rests and rots. The seed of these public institutions, from which the great big bureaucratic machine stems from, has descended from a colonial regime that perpetuated criminal disdain for citizenry. The Raj did not build institutions to deliver to people; it built what it needed to perpetuate itself. And, it did so in a way that no matter what the truth of these institutions, those that survived them could only live as court poets, by singing praises, even though the reality of these institutions was and is just the opposite.
The Helplines are but an extension of the public institutions that exist. The colonials have gone but the institutions remain the same, and have deteriorated further. They have no obligation to the people; there are no command responsibilities fixed to punish in case of wilful negligence and dereliction of duty; and there are no redress mechanisms in place.
In this sounds like a cross-connection, lets put this a little differently: why should an average citizen expect helplines to work if the police itself do not? Why should she expect a patrolling car rushing in to save her when she would almost certainly fear entering a police station alone? Getting deputed for handling the helplines cannot change the basic character of those in the police can it?
Having n number of helplines, unified or otherwise, are not going to change the situation. It is the abject failure of beat policing that enables the kidnappers to dare attempt to abduct a staffer of a leading newspaper from right outside her glossy office building, helplines or no helplines. It is the failure of the City policing that makes them certain of getting away. It is the abysmal failure of the police to get convictions even after decades long trials, which mitigates any fears budding kidnapping might have.
The Republic needs to restructure its Police, Prosecution and Judiciary in a way that raises the cost of crime. If it fails to do so, all the helplines that it sets up are doomed to fail. Citizens need to demand changes, not in laws or in helplines. They need to re-engineer their institutions. Over and Out.

May 11, 2016

Maharashtra Declaration Mocks Deaths, Confirms Pattern

[This is an AHRC Statement.]
The pattern on display in the Bombay High Court yesterday, 9 May 2016, was not that of the cycle of drought affecting millions. It was that of callous – bordering on malicious – governance.
According to media reports, like this one, the Maharashtra state government informed the Court that it would declare drought in over 29,000 villages in the state and provide all relief prescribed in the Drought Manual, 2009. However, for anyone following the unfolding of this governance disaster, this Declaration, at this moment, only communicates mockery.
The government did not make the revelation by itself. It had been dragged to court, and forced to do so, having being summoned in the hearing of a batch of Public Interest Litigations over acute shortage of water in the state and its inaction over the same.
The government also told the Court that it would issue a corrigendum and clarify that it would order the authorities under its jurisdiction to read all references to “drought-like situation” and “drought-affected area” as drought.
“Corrigendum” is the operative word. No, the government had not been mistaken. It was, rather, fully aware of the worsening drought and the toll this was taking on the people. It was aware of the deaths being caused by both distress suicides and heat strokes in serpentine water queues. It had even organized a full cabinet disaster tour to take stock of “drought-like situation”. Despite all this, it had failed to declare drought and thus locked up the possibilities of providing relief in the absence of an official declaration of a drought. So the corrigendum is really criminal disdain for the lives of ordinary citizens it is oath bound to protect.
That said Maharashtra is not alone in doing this. It is following a set pattern governments across Indian states follow to pretend to address disasters, especially recurrent ones like droughts. The Asian Human Rights Commission has outlined the pattern in detail here.
Here is a quick recap of the phases for the uninitiated:
• Governments will not officially declare the ‘drought’ and will choose to study the “drought-like” condition until it is too late, and too many lives have been lost, and large-scale distress migration has taken place.
• Next, a fervid blame game ensues between the state and union government, especially if they are led by rival political formations. The provincial government accuses the union government of sabotaging drought relief by not releasing funds; the union responds by blaming the state government for underutilising funds disbursed to the state. This continues for a while with no regard to lives being lost to distress suicides, heat strokes, and all manner of drought related ailments.
• After this, cosmetic, and often tragicomic, relief measures are undertaken by both bickering governments amidst full-throttle attempts by both to take credit.
• The last stage involves the natural and partial mitigation of the crisis, with the onset of the monsoons, followed by winters. The climatic changes bring a dip in temperature and replenish water bodies at least to subsistence levels. This reflects in a decline of suicides and deaths by all other means. The drought is then forgotten or replaced with some other topic, only to return to haunt the people next year.
The Maharashtra government has only fiddled a bit with the pattern this time, not out of free will though. It rushed water trains to Latur because there was no water left, not even to drink. It set up a full cabinet disaster tour as the suicides reached triple figures by 15 February itself. And, only now has it now assured the Bombay High Court that it will, finally, declare drought.
Love is a strong word. And, the AHRC does not know about everybody. But, no government seems to mind a good drought, certainly not when there is a pattern to uphold.
Citizens will only be liberated when they break such compulsive patterns of mis-governance.

अभद्रता ही नयी संसदीय भाषा है

[6 मई 2016 को राज एक्सप्रेस में प्रकाशित] 

अगर आदित्यनाथ मर्द हैं तो शादी करके, बच्चे पैदा करके अपनी मर्दानगी साबित करें- यह किसी अनाम ट्रोल की सोशल मीडिया पर निकाली गयी भड़ास नहीं बल्कि उत्तर प्रदेश के शहरी विकास मंत्री आज़म खान का भाजपा सांसद योगी आदित्यनाथ पर नया हमला है. फिर योगी भी भाषा के साथ दुर्व्यवहार की अपनी शानदार क्षमता के लिए जाने ही जाते रहे हैं- सो उन्होंने भी करारा जवाब दिया. बोले दुनिया जानती है कि कौन मर्द है कौन नहीं. साथ में यह भी जोड़ दिया कि मुख्यमंत्री अखिलेश यादव को आज़म को मंत्रिमंडल से बरखास्त कर किसी पागलखाने में भर्ती करवा देना चाहिए.

अब यह भूल जाएँ कि मर्दानगी को बहादुरी का पर्याय बना  देने में दोनों बिलकुल एक हैं, स्त्रियों के प्रति इनके सम्मान की ऐसे करतूतें पहले भी सामने आती रही हैं. अफ़सोस, संवाद का स्तर गिराने वाली अभद्रता की यह नयी भाषा न सिर्फ इन दोनों की है, न ही एक दूसरे से टकराते रहने वालों के बीच सिमटी हुई है. संसदीय भाषा कभी आदर्श भाषा का मानक मानी जाती थी. अब वह अक्सर सांसदों के मुँह से ऐसे अंदाज में सुनाई पड़ती है कि खबरी चैनल उनके बयानों को “सिर्फ वयस्कों के लिए” की चेतावनी के साथ चलायें तो यह उनका सामाजिक योगदान माना जा सकता है.

वैसे तो इस गिरावट की प्रक्रिया बहुत लंबी है पर दो बड़े उदाहरणों में याद करें तो बात आसानी से समझ आ जाती है. अरसे पहले, जीप घोटाले में अपने रक्षा मंत्री कृष्णा मेनन पर आरोप लगने पर देश के प्रथम प्रधानमंत्री जवाहरलाल नेहरु ने कहा था कि इन आरोपों के पीछे “गन्दी राजनीति” है. इसके कुछ चार दशक बाद तत्कालीन प्रधानमंत्री पी वी नरसिंहाराव खुद आरोपों में फंसे तो उन्होंने कहा कि आरोपों के पीछे ‘राजनीति’ है. बात साफ़ है कि भारतीय राजनीति का  सफ़र ‘गंदी राजनीति’ के ही राजनीति बन जाने का भी सफ़र है.

अब सवाल बनता है कि राजनीति इतनी गंदी हो कैसे गयी. इस सवाल का जवाब बेहद आसान है. साथ के दशक तक स्वतंत्रता संग्राम में तप कर आई आदर्शवादी पीढ़ी के बुजुर्ग होते जाने के साथ उनके आदर्शों को भी सामाजिक पकड़ कमजोर पड़ती गयी. फिर इस नयी पीढ़ी के लिए राजनीति सेवा नहीं बल्कि धंधा बन गयी, ऐसा धन्धा जिसमें लाभ कमाने के लिए उसे साम दाम दंड भेद किसी चीज से कोई परहेज नहीं था. इस पीढ़ी ने सबसे पहले राजनीति में अपराधियों का इस्तेमाल करना शुरू किया- विरोधियों को डराने धमकाने से शुरू कर चुनावों के वक़्त बूथ कब्जा कर लेने तक.
धीरे धीरे अपराधियों को यह बात समझ आ गयी कि ऐसे नेताओं के पीछे कि असली ताकत वह हैं तो उन्होंने पीछे खड़े रहने से इनकार कर दिया और खुद राजनीति में उतर पड़े. 80 के दशक के बीतते न बीतते राजनीति के अपराधीकरण की यह प्रक्रिया अपने चरम तक पहुँच चुकी थी. अब यह तो हो नहीं सकता कि ‘बाहुबली’ माननीय हो जाएँ और उनकी भाषा, उनकी जीवनशैली बुरी ही बनी रहे, सो वह हुआ भी नहीं. पूर्वी उत्तर प्रदेश से बरास्ते बिहार तेलंगाना तक ‘काट देंगे, मार देंगे’ संसदीय भाषा ही नहीं, सांसदों के असली व्यवहार में भी शामिल हो गए.

अब जो बचा था वह बस राजनीति में विशुद्ध व्यापारियों का आना था. व्यापारियों से मुराद गाँव कस्बों वाले छोटे मोटे व्यापारियों से नहीं, बल्कि कॉर्पोरेट धन्नासेठों से है, उन धन्नासेठों से जो अब तक बड़ी राजनैतिक पार्टियों के आगे पीछे घूमते थे, उनसे अपना काम निकालने की मदद करने को तैयार रहते थे. विजय माल्या को याद करें तो याद आएगा कि कैसे उन्होंने तिकड़म लगा कर, वोट खरीद कर राज्य सभा में घुसना शुरू किया. अंबानी बंधुओं को याद करें तो यह भी कि कैसे उन्होंने अमर सिंह की मार्फ़त उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार में अपनी जड़ें घुसायीं. अपराधियों के आने के साथ राजनीति को उनकी भाषा मुफ्त मिली थी तो ऐसे धन्नासेठों के आने के बाद उनका कुछ भी करके बच निकलने में विश्वास रखने वाला घमंड. यह एक भयानक दुरभिसंधि थी जिसका रास्ता यहाँ तक पहुँचना ही था.

यहाँ जहाँ हेरोल्ड पिंटर याद आते हैं. वे जिन्होंने कहा था कि हमारी दुनिया की हकीकत इतनी वहशी, इतनी भयावह हो गयी है कि उसे जो भाषा मौजूद है उसमें कहा ही नहीं जा सकता. भाषा और यथार्थ की संरचना एक दूसरे के समानान्तर जा खड़ी हुई हैं. इसी बात को अब ऐसे सोचें कि हमारे देश में राजनीति का असली चेहरा इतना घिनौना हो गया है कि उसमें सभ्य भाषा में बता करने की जगह ही नहीं बची है. वहाँ तो अब यही चलेगा- आदित्यनाथ और आज़म खानों से शुरू कर आजादी मांगने पर औरतों को नंगा घूमने की सलाह देने वाले खट्टर जैसे मुख्यमंत्री, रूसी औरतों को अकेले में धोती बांधना सिखाने को तत्पर बाबूलाल गौर जैसे मध्य प्रदेश के गृहमंत्री.

श्रद्धांजलि संसदीय भाषा. 

Droughts of governance precipitate death

[This is an AHRC Statement]
For millions of Indians hit by the devastating drought, death comes in myriad forms. Farmers’ suicides – oft reported by the media and denied by the State – are one of them. A recent and surprising pattern of drought death is heart attacks to those waiting in water collection queues.
This is what killed 12-year-old Yogita Desai. Last month, April 2016, she collapsed while standing in a queue for water in her village in Beed district of Maharashtra. It was her fifth consecutive queue on that day. Doctors diagnosed that the cause of her death was heart attack and dehydration. They found the immediate cause of death, but other factors deserve consideration. Why, for instance, was a 12-year-old, and that too one suffering from dysentery for a while, having to go fetch water five times in a row under the scorching sun.
Squaring up with this question exposes the real reason behind her death: apathy and inaction of the government and public institutions. But, that would have been too embarrassing for the regime, which claims to be on course to becoming the next world superpower.
Kevalbai Kamble, a 45-year-old woman, met the same fate the day before yesterday, in Latur, Maharashtra. Standing for more than 2 hours in a queue for water, she collapsed, and was declared brought dead to the hospital.
A question like, why was she forced to stand in a queue for over two hours, under the scorching sun, is a question that would be beyond the brief of the government doctors. And this is so for obvious reasons. However, it must not be so.
Drought has not caught the governments, both at union and state levels, unaware. Many of the regions worst affected, for example Marathwada and Vidarbha in Maharashtra, Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh, parts of Telangana, and so on, have been under long spells of drought. The impact of the same has also reflected in the corresponding numbers of farmers’ suicides, despite the best attempts by the governments to fudge the data.
The response of the governments to the situation, aggravating with every passing year, have bordered on criminal negligence. They have also largely followed a set pattern, irrespective of the party in power. Let’s examine this pattern on display.
First, the governments will not officially declare the ‘drought’ and will choose to study the “drought like” condition. Maharashtra is one of the better-known examples of this, but it is not the only one. Uttar Pradesh did this last year. And, it finally declared, on 19 November 2015 – i.e. well after Kharif crops (paddy in the main) were destroyed – that drought was affecting 50 of its 75 districts. Telangana waited even longer. It declared 231 out of 443 of its rural mandals (sub-districts) drought hit, only on 24 November 2015. It was waiting for the “detailed report” over crop damages, which are only accessible after harvest.
Official declaration plays a crucial though stopgap role in addressing the crisis and mitigating the drought, as relief measures cannot be released without the drought declaration. The relief measures, howsoever abysmal, are the only lifeline left for the rural population in such situations. How poor is the relief? It is a miserly, bordering on insulting, Rupees 2,750 per acre in rain fed areas and Rupees 5,465 per acre in assured irrigation areas under the National Disaster Relief Fund norms. This relief is capped at Rupees 13,475 and Rupees 26,778 for rain-fed and irrigated areas, respectively. And even this relief cannot be disbursed unless there is an official declaration of a drought.
The second stage of the drama that recurs involves a fervid blame game between the state and union government, especially if they are led by rival political formations. The provincial government accuses the union government of sabotaging drought relief by not releasing funds; the union responds by blaming the state government with underutilisation of funds that have already been disbursed to the state. This continues for a while with no regard to lives being lost to distress suicides, heat strokes, and all other manner of ailments that travel along with.
Next, the third stage involves cosmetic, and tragicomic, relief measures taken by both bickering governments amidst full throttle attempts by both to take credit. This can even go to the extent of rushing Water Trains without a drop of water, as it so happened yesterday.
The Union Government of India, yesterday, rushed a train to Bundelkhand, which is part of the Uttar Pradesh state that is already in election mode. The state government refused to accept the charity, saying it had enough water and only needed tankers to distribute them, and did not need a water train. The Union Minister for Water Resources accused the Chief Minister of the state to be arrogant for refusing water and blamed him for putting politics over people. It was then found out that the train they were bickering over was, in fact, empty. It carried no water at all. Not even a drop of it.
The fourth and final stage of the annual drama is the partial natural mitigation of the crisis with onset of monsoons followed by winters. The climatic changes bring a dip in temperature and replenish water bodies at least to subsistence levels. This reflects in a decline of suicides and deaths by all other means. The drought is then forgotten or replaced with some other topic, only to return to haunt the people next year.
Sadly, at no stage of the drama do the governments make any attempts to walk their talk, for instance rainwater harvesting that they preach about, conservation of water, building more reservoirs, and so on.
Consider Maharashtra closely for an active demonstration of this set pattern. The state authorities have been more than aware of the disaster coming their way. The Marathwada region of the state was reeling with just 6% water available in all its reservoirs against 18% last year. The region had also seen 370 farmers’ suicides by 30 April; the state already had 124 farmer suicides in the first 45 days of the year, i.e. nearly 3 farmer suicides a day in the state. But the state authorities sat on the information till disaster struck.
Next, it is not as if the government didn’t do anything. It made the appearance of acting. The government organised a full cabinet tour of Marathawada, rather than do anything substantive like revamp dysfunctional public institutions on a war footing to arrest the impending crisis.
Even the rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground did not stop it from allowing cricket matches of the Indian Premier League to be hosted. These matches, played in a profitable private league, guzzle thousands of litres of water.
The state government also did not curb water supplies to 17 breweries, until the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court instructed the state government to cut off the water supply to the breweries for 40 days. It also, meanwhile, kept constructing new helipads, like one that used 10,000 litres of water in Latur, so that Ministers could “take stock” of the drought situation. Latur, incidentally, is a district so badly hit by drought that it is getting water from trains (full of water it is hoped) that have been earmarked for the purpose.
Therefore, it is but “natural” that the government was found wanting, when the full scale of the disaster finally struck, both in the form of farmers suicides and in all manner of other associated deaths, such as heart attacks in the water queues.

उस पार काश्मीर उर्फ़ बंटी हुई जन्नत का दर्द

[राज एक्सप्रेस में 18-अप्रैल 2016 को प्रकाशित] 

सियासत अज़ब चीज है, जन्नत को भी बाँट सकती है. ऐसे जैसे इस दुनिया की जन्नत कहे जाने वाले काश्मीर को बाँट दिया अब नीलम नदी के दोनों तरफ दो काश्मीर हैं, दो मुल्क हैं, और हजार दिक्कतें हैं. इस अजब से बँटवारे से उपजी भू-राजनैतिक दिक्कतों से लेकर एक काल्पनिक रेखा से बाँट दिए गए हजारों परिवारों की छोटी छोटी दिक्कतों तक. हाँ, हम लोग इन दिक्कतों को अपने चुने हुए सर्वनाम से जानते हैं- पाक अधिकृत काश्मीर, भारतीय काश्मीर, भारत अधिकृत काश्मीर, आज़ाद काश्मीर कमाल ये कि ये तमाम नाम काश्मीर के बारे में कम, हमारे बारे में ज्यादा बताते हैं. हमारी राजनैतिक स्थिति से लेकर राष्ट्रीयता तक

खैर, अभी का मसला यह कि हंडवारा से श्रीनगर तक ही नहीं, जन्नत के उस तरफ मीरपुर से मुज़फ़्फ़राबाद तक भी क़यामत बरपा है. अवाम उधर भी सड़कों पर है और फिर अवाम सड़कों पर हो तो संगीनें और वर्दियां कहाँ पीछे रहती हैं. इस बार के प्रतिरोध प्रदर्शनों में मगर एक ख़ास बात है- यह कि मुज़फ़्फ़राबाद की सड़कों ने शायद पहली बार पाकिस्तान विरोधी प्रदर्शन देखे हैं. "काश्मीर बचाने निकले हैं, आओ हमारे साथ चलो" जैसे नारे सुने हैं. हाँ, पहली बार सुने जाने का मतलब, मगर, यह नहीं कि गुस्सा नया है. पाक अधिकृत काश्मीर की पाकिस्तान से निराशा किसी भी स्तर पर आम भारतीय काश्मीरी के गुस्से और ठगे जाने के भाव से ज्यादा हो तो कम नहीं ही होगी  

पाक अधिकृत काश्मीर के गुस्से के फूट पड़ने का सबब भले "आज़ाद काश्मीर" में आसन्न चुनावों से जुड़ता दिखता हो, इसकी जड़ें दरअसल बहुत गहरी हैं. आज़ाद काश्मीर का सबसे बड़ा दर्द दरअसल वह मजाक है जो 'आज़ादी' के नाम पर पाकिस्तान सरकार ने उसके साथ किया है 1974 के अंतरिम संविधान के मुताबिक़ मिली इस आज़ादी में नाम के 'राष्ट्रपति' और प्रधानमंत्री पद के सिवा दरअसल कोई आज़ादी शामिल नहीं है. आज़ाद काश्मीर के अपने खुद के संविधान के अनुच्छेद 21 को पढ़ना यह साफ़ कर देता है कि 'आज़ाद काश्मीर' का चुन हुआ प्रशासन दरअसल पूरी तरह से पाकिस्तान प्रधानमंत्री की अध्यक्षता वाली 'आज़ाद जम्मू और काश्मीर परिषद' के अधीन है. वास्तविकता में यही परिषद इस्लामाबाद से 'आज़ाद काश्मीर' को चलाती है और इसके सचिव के पास 'आज़ाद काश्मीर' के चुने हुए प्रधानमंत्री से ज्यादा अधिकार होते हैं

इसीलिए जब यह टकराव फ़रवरी में 'आज़ाद काश्मीर' के प्रधानमंत्री चौधरी अब्दुल मज़ीद के पाकिस्तान प्रधानमंत्री नवाज़ शरीफ पर 'आज़ाद काश्मीर' के आंतरिक मामलों में हस्तक्षेप करने का आरोप लगाने में दिखा तो किसी को कोई आश्चर्य हुआ भी होगा तो बस इस बात पर कि इतनी देर से क्यों लगाया इस टकराव का तात्कालिक कारण था पाकिस्तान का जम्मू और काश्मीर के अविभाज्य हिस्से गिलगिट और बालटिस्तान को आधिकारिक तौर पर पाकिस्तान में शामिल कर उन्हें पाँचवाँ राज्य बनाने का प्रस्ताव दरअसल पाकिस्तान का यह प्रस्ताव $46.2 अरब लागत वाले चाइना-पाकिस्तान स्पेशल इकनॉमिक कॉरिडोर को बनाने में चीन की उस हिचकिचाहट  को दूर करने के लिए उठाया गया कदम है जो उसे एक 'विवादित' क्षेत्र में इतना भारी निवेश करने से रोक रही हैं. गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान को पाकिस्तान का प्रांत बनाने से इस समस्या का वक्ती समाधान होना संभव है

पर फिर, यह प्रस्ताव "आज़ाद काश्मीर" सरकार के लिए ही नहीं, काश्मीरी स्वायत्तता का समर्थन करने वाले हर राजनैतिक समूह के खिलाफ ही नहीं जाता बल्कि उसकी आज़ादी का मजाक बना कर भी रख देता है. इसीलिए एक तरफ "आज़ाद जम्मू काश्मीर" सरकार के वित्त मंत्री ने अपनी विधानसभा में 12 जनवरी को इस प्रस्ताव के विरोध में प्रस्ताव रखा कि "गिलगित बालतिस्तान को पाकिस्तान का हिस्सा बनाने का कोई भी प्रयास हमारी संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ के उन प्रस्तावों पर स्थिति को बुरी तरह चोट पँहुचाएगा जो काश्मीरियों के आत्मनिर्णय के अधिकार का समर्थन करती हैं'. ठीक यही बात दूसरी तरफ से भी आई, जब भारतीय काश्मीर के हुर्रियत कांफ्रेंस के अलगाववादी ही नहीं बल्कि पाकिस्तान समर्थक नेता सैयद अली शाह गिलानी ने भी इस प्रस्ताव का विरोध करते हुए गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान को पाकिस्तान का हिस्सा बनाए जाने को काश्मीरियों को धोखा देने के बराबर करार दिया 

पाकिस्तान की यह हरकत फिर पाक अधिकृत काश्मीर के 1993 के जख्म भी हरे करती है जब पाकिस्तान की सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने "आज़ाद काश्मीर" उच्च न्यायालय  के उन हिस्सों को वापस 'आज़ाद काश्मीर' में शामिल करने का आदेश दिया था जिन्हें पाकिस्तान की फेडरल सरकार ने अपने कब्जे में ले लिया था. तब पाकिस्तानी सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने 'आज़ाद काश्मीर' के सभी तर्कों को मानते हुए भी उसका आदेश इस नुक्ते पर पलट दिया था कि 'आज़ाद काश्मीर' उच्च न्यायालय पाकिस्तान को आदेश नहीं दे सकती अब उसने यह भ्रम भी हटा लिया है सो प्रतिरोध लाज़िमी है. आने वाले दिनों में यह प्रतिरोध बढ़ेगा ही, कम नहीं होगा और प्रतिरोध बढ़ेगा तो दमन भी बढ़ना ही है

मतलब साफ़ है. और कुछ भी हो हो, पाकिस्तान के सिर्फ दुनिया की ज़न्नत के दुख बढ़ा सकता है, उन्हें दूर नहीं कर सकता हाँ, अपनी जरुरत पड़ने पर उन्हीं काश्मीरियों को ठग सकता है जिनकी लड़ाई लड़ने का दावा वह करता रहा है. आज गिलगित-बाल्टिस्तान है, कल उसके कब्जे वाला पूरा काश्मीर भी हो सकता है. काश कि यह बात मसर्रत आलम जैसे इधर के पाकिस्तान सर्मथक काश्मीरी नेता समझ पाएं