From ‘Baji’ to ‘Rudali’: Where is the Mehbooba Mufti of Kashmir?

From mourning alongside people in the past, Mehbooba Mufti has chosen to be a spectator in today’s restive J&K.

2 min read
Hindi Female

A headband with “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and a fluttering green flag has become the trademark picture of the recent azaadi (freedom) rallies of Kashmir.

The protests, ding-dong battles of stone pelting, are not about the argument of power, but about the power of argument itself. The argument is about holding a plebiscite in this landlocked Himalayan region that would ultimately lead to the permanent settlement of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is presently divided into three parts occupied by India, Pakistan and China.


In the Eye of the Storm

After an uneasy calm since the 2010 mass uprising, Kashmir is back to square one after the killing of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Wani’s killing has in turn led to a mass uprising in which 49 people have been killed so far, and over 2,500 injured, enough for historians to script it as “the 2016 uprising”.

In this tumultuous period, the centre of the debate isn’t about anyone from J&K’s first political family, the Abdullahs, but Mehbooba Mufti, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief, and the current and the first woman chief minister of the conflict-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mufti’s rise in politics is because of her soft-separatist tag that she doesn’t adorn anymore. The green gown and a soft-separatist tag is no more associated with her identity.

Mehbooba was otherwise the only top mainstream (pro-India) leader who would visit the families of militants and console them, even shed tears. When faced with the killing of any innocent even in the most remote part of the state, Mehbooba would hit the streets in protest to seek justice. But this time there have been 12 killings in a single day and not at any far-off area but in her home constituency – but she didn’t shed any tears, something that has surprised her hardcore supporters and even her party colleagues.

From mourning alongside people in the past, Mehbooba Mufti has chosen to be a spectator in today’s restive  J&K.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti at a meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in New Delhi, 2 June, 2016. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

Inexplicable Silence

Where has the Mehbooba of the Kashmiris gone? Has she forgotten her promise before the elections, of delivering justice to the 123 families who lost their dear ones in the 2010 unrest?

There were several similar stories where Mehbooba won the hearts and minds of people that fetched her the name Baji (a loved sister).

Baji’s criminal silence on the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir has earned her a new name­­­, “Rudali”. Mehbooba of Kashmir would never like to be called by this name.

There is only one question that the Kashmiris are debating these days in offices, roadsides, shop-fronts and at other places. Is it just absolute power that has corrupted her?

(The writer is a journalist based in Kashmir. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

Also read: Crisis After Burhan’s Killing Poses a Challenge for the Hurriyat

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