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Of political Iftar parties 

With elections round the corner, some political parties in Kashmir sought to turn these parties into public outreach programs
03:06 AM Apr 13, 2024 IST | Gulzar Bhat
of political iftar parties 
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The holy month of Ramadan is over, so are the lively Iftar parties. Each year, when Ramadan enters its last leg, people organise Iftar parties, bringing relatives, friends and neighbours together.

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Political leaders also throw such parties and on their guest list are usually bureaucrats, political friends, journalists, and retired police officers.

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With elections round the corner, some political parties in Kashmir sought to turn these parties into public outreach programs. They hosted a flurry of such parties well-nigh in all important towns and even in villages of the Valley, inviting gullible people in the name of Iftar.

Last week, one such party was hosted at a small hamlet tucked away in thick apple orchards in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Hundreds of guests were invited from different places. Dozens of reporters from the area were also the part of this “grand Iftar party”. Additionally, an army of unsolicited guests or say workers showed up at the venue to have the Iftar meals. The street leading to the venue witnessed bumper to bumper traffic. Many invitees had pulled their cars off the road that led to long traffic snarls. The people honked horns as they tried to drive past with policemen struggling to clear their way. An unending stream of cars and bikes caught in the jam were moving inch by inch. The sleepy village turned into a maelstrom of crowds. The invitees were trying to open the gate of the building where the Iftar meals were scheduled to be served. The sturdy metallic gate was firmly shut and the people were clueless about their hosts. A knot of young men, one introducing himself as the secretary sahab of the party, tried to open the gate. But the cops stationed there stopped them to do that. They were perhaps waiting for a green signal from the missing host(s) or simply following the security protocol.

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Soon the loud speakers fitted on the minarets of nearby mosques raised the call - Azan. The people residing in the neighbourhood broke their fast and made a dash for the mosques. The Iftar party invitees, on the other hand, struggled to break their day-long fast. A few had some dates they bit them into pieces and shared with fellow invitees. Others tried to look for shops to buy water or something to eat.

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A few flew into a rage and argued with the policemen, while many left the venue feeling humiliated. However, some dedicated guests stayed put to relish the Iftar feast.

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Finally, after much wait and cacophony, the Iftar meals were served by the local political leaders. The mismanagement marred the public outreach program organised in the name of Iftar party. What could be more shameful for a host than having the cops manage the guests.

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The political parties should be respectful to the people and their sentiments, particularly when it comes to hosting them on such crucial occasions. They should steer clear of politicising the Iftar meals for their petty political gains. An Iftar party should not be made an occasion to send out a tacit message for seeking votes.

Moreover, political Iftar parties have always been a sensitive affairs. In 2014, an Iftar invitation spurred the cancellation of foreign secretaries talks between India and Pakistan. Be cautious next time!

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