What Did Haseeb Drabu Say on J&K That Cost Him His Ministership?

Drabu said that the conflict in J&K was not as bad as the media claimed, and that it needed fixing on a social level

3 min read
Former Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Haseeb Drabu.

Former Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Haseeb Drabu broke his silence on his unceremonious exit from the Mehbooba Mufti government, on Tuesday, 13 March. Mufti sacked the senior PDP leader from her Council of Ministers on Monday, 12 March, over parts of a speech that Drabu made at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi on 9 March.

The 57-year-old former journalist issued a three-page statement on his sacking, minutes after Chief Minister Mufti gave additional charge of finance and labour to Education Minister Syed Mohammed Altaf Bukhari. The decision was a "surprise" and the manner in which it was conveyed was "shocking," he said.

While I understand and accept the decision of the party, to talk to media before talking to me, was painful. I was not accorded the opportunity to explain the context and the content of my speech.
Haseeb Drabu, former J&K finance minister

In his statement, Drabu said the decision to "drop me did come as a surprise but what was shocking was the manner and method of communicating it.”

What Did Drabu Say That Led to His Sacking?

In his speech in New Delhi, Drabu had said that unrest in the Valley was not a political issue and that it needed a resolution at the social level by each individual member of civil society.

Don’t see Jammu and Kashmir as a conflict state and as a political issue; it’s a society which has social issues right now. We are trying to find our own space. And we are going through a process, which many other countries are going through. Its not like we are the only ones. 
Excerpt from Haseeb Drabu’s speech

Drabu, in the full text of the speech transcribed by The Indian Express, added that the non-resolution of the conflict in the Valley since the past 50 to 70 years, indicated that it couldn’t be resolved through political measures but at a social level.

It’s not a political issue as far as I can see. I think we have been barking up the wrong tree talking about for the last 50, 70 years talking about the politics of it, the political situation, how it has never been improved. I think we also seriously need to correct in terms of how it’s a society in search for itself.
Excerpt from Haseeb Drabu’s speech

‘Situation Not So Bad, the Media Says What You Want to Hear’

Drabu, towards the end of his speech, said that the media coverage of Jammu and Kashmir had a major role to play in the way the state was being portrayed.

Its very often said, I think (it) was said today also, that the situation is not as bad and the media is often to be blamed. I’ve been a part of media as well. I used to run a newspaper nationally, I was running Business Standard for many many years... you’ve got lost in a forest of symbols. We need to break that. 
Excerpt from Haseeb Drabu’s speech

Wrapping up his speech, the former J&K minister said that if people did not want to hear news about conflict in the valley, the media wouldn’t report it.

I wouldn’t, in particular, blame the media because the media mirrors what the civil society wants. So all this game that is being played on television channels night after night is a reflection of what the society wants to hear. If you don’t want to hear it, they will not say it. I think that’s the key message.
Excerpt from Haseeb Drabu’s speech

Concluding his speech, Drabu asked investors to look at J&K as “individuals, not investors,” assuring them that if they did so, they would find plenty of good opportunities to invest in.

(With inputs from PTI and The Indian Express)

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