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From guardians to perpetrators

Failure of elected representatives to prioritize public welfare and development
from guardians to perpetrators

For the past three decades, the landscape of governance in Kashmir has been marred by a stark reality: elected MLAs, entrusted with the responsibility of serving the people, have instead prioritised their personal ambitions and interests, neglecting the pressing issues and urgent needs of the populace.


As the region grappled with socio-economic challenges and political turmoil after the Pakistan sponsored terrorism broke out in 1990, failure of elected representatives to prioritize public welfare and development stood as a damning indictment of their leadership.


During the past three decades many elected MLAs in Kashmir focused their efforts not on uplifting the lives of their constituents but on constructing lavish personal mansions and amassing wealth at the expense of public funds. While the people of Kashmir languished in poverty and deprivation, their elected representatives indulged in opulence and excess, betraying the trust bestowed upon them by the electorate.


Furthermore, the plight of the people was exacerbated by the prevalence of fake encounters, which had become disturbingly normalised under the watch of these elected representatives. The irony is palpable: those who were elected to safeguard the interests of the people were complicit in their victimisation, orchestrating violence and perpetuating fear to maintain their grip on power. Instead of serving as guardians of the public trust, they became perpetrators of injustice and oppression.


Equally egregious is the systematic sabotage of development projects and infrastructure initiatives that could have uplifted the socio-economic condition of the region. While neighboring states progressed and prospered, Jammu and Kashmir remained mired in underdevelopment and stagnation, a direct consequence of the negligence and incompetence of its elected representatives.


Rather than championing progress and prosperity, they chose to stifle growth and perpetuate a cycle of dependency and despair.


Perhaps most insidious of all is the cynical manipulation of public sentiment by these elected MLAs, who peddled a narrative of victimhood and persecution to deflect accountability and maintain their stranglehold on power.
By scapegoating New Delhi and portraying themselves as champions of Kashmiri autonomy, they sought to exploit the legitimate grievances of the people for their own political gain, all while abdicating their responsibility to govern effectively and ethically.


Their self-serving politics was epitomised by their fixation on personal security and privileges, symbolised by bulletproof vehicles, elaborate escorts, and ostentatious security details. Rather than channeling resources towards improving public safety and infrastructure, they squandered taxpayer money on extravagance and excess, betraying their duty to serve the people with humility and integrity.

In their pursuit of power and prestige, these elected MLAs lost sight of their primary obligation: to serve the people of Jammu and Kashmir with dedication and humility.

Their behaviour mirrors that of Ahmed Shah Rangali, the ruthless conqueror who cared little for the welfare of his subjects. Like feudal lords presiding over their fiefdoms, they reveled in adulation and praise, deaf to the cries of the marginalised and disenfranchised.

It is incumbent upon Kashmir based politicians to shed their feudal mindset and embrace their role as public servants, accountable to the people they purport to represent.

They must prioritise the needs of the populace over personal ambition, eschewing the trappings of power in favour of genuine empathy and compassion. Only then can they begin to atone for their betrayal and restore faith in the democratic process.

Kashmiri politicians should understand that times have changed and they can no longer project New Delhi as enemy of people.

People of J&K during the past five years have heaved a sigh of relief. Terrorism has been wiped out. Era of stone-pelting, street protests and strikes has ended. People are performing their daily chores without any hindrances and are living peacefully.

Past five years have proven beyond doubt that New Delhi is a true friend, whom people of Kashmir can look towards and count upon.

When politicians were in power or out of power they act like monarchs and feudal lords at the cost of Indian state. But they need to understand that nothing is permanent and they are no kings.
If they have to remain relevant then they will have to serve the people rather than expecting the common masses to be their disciples. The time for change is now, lest the people of Kashmir continue to suffer at the hands of those who should be their staunchest advocates.

Sheikh Khalid Jehangir writes for GK on Politics , Defence & Strategic affairs and is presently heading International Centre for Peace Studied , New Delhi.