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MARGINALIA: Haste makes waste
By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal
Chief minister Omar Abdullah’s inability to set any deadline and union defence minister A.K Antony’s caution against haste in revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is reminiscent of an anecdote from the fifties. A man gave a suit length of fabric to a famous London trained tailor, also a Municipal Councillor, at the then posh Residency Road of Jammu city sometime towards the end of one summer and asked him to stitch a suit for him. Winter came and went and despite the man’s prodding, the suit was never stitched. Summer set in and the man also probably forgot about it, remembering only when the next winter was about to set in. There was still no suit in sight. Irritated, the man questioned, “I gave you the suit length more than a year ago and you still don’t have it ready.” Without losing his cool and handing him back his piece of cloth, the tailor simply retorted, “Hamein Jaldi Wale Gahak Nahin Chahiye.” (We do not need customers in haste).

After atleast half a decade of drama and suspense over the fate of AFSPA – whether it is under review, whether centre has given the nod for doing away with the law or atleast diluting some of its provisions or whether there is a move to partially or completely do away with it – the defence minister finds any move on the ticklish subject still too hasty. Atleast six long years of mulling have gone by and it’s still too hasty! For years, the governments, both in the state and the Centre, have been trying to buy time with the rhetoric on AFSPA. While the Centre initiated the move of bringing in the Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission report and made off and on noises, AFSPA has been the pet poodle of the present chief minister in Jammu and Kashmir ever since he took over the reins of the state, his stands wavering from immediate partial revocation of the draconian act to setting no deadlines for the same.

Yet, sometime back, he thrust upon the public his wishful fantasy that AFSPA revocation would come about in his own tenure. This is amusing, given the fact that the present one is nearing its fag end and at the moment there are remote chances of his popularity charts magically rising. In that case the defence minister’s latest stance may stand in striking contrast with that of the chief minister, who seems to be on pins to cling on to AFSPA rhetoric and use it as his magic wand for success in his next round. That may not be. But there is definitely something odd in the way AFSPA, instead of being treated like a law that has been crying for debate and review for years, is being deemed as a piece of monumental heritage which cannot be questioned even after serious decade long exercises. The official take almost sounds like is: Any tampering with the law is like a piece of art itself; the task cannot be accomplished in the ‘haste’ of several years. Period!

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Its monumental glory reveals the history of decades and centuries of a cultural renaissance. Artistic and literary marvels take time to evolve. No one could have demonstrated this to me better than late Dogri poet and prolific writer, Ved Pal Deep, who was also a senior colleague when I joined this profession. He had this amazing penchant for writing with a pen that did not have a good ink flow. “The best words are written slowly, allowing the mind to stop, think and re-think…..,” he’d say. Better known for his pensive poetry, earning him the title of ‘Ghalib of Dogri poetry’, Deep Saheb, as he was popularly known in and outside office, was also known for his sharp sense of humour. Once, a septuagenarian wrote an article and gave it to him for publishing which Deep Saheb kept procrastinating over, probably because it wasn’t worth publishing. For weeks, the man visited the office and would be returned by the words, “it will be published!” Finally after a wait of several months, the writer of the article demanded to know when. Deep sahib replied, “Certainly, in your lifetime.” Needless to add, the article was eventually not published, not in the lifetime of either of them.

AFSPA is neither a piece of art, nor something that can be simply discarded in the bin, like the unworthy article, without the official approval. But how long does one need to wait for it to go? The chief minister bets it would be during his tenure. It might be wishful thinking. Those at the helm believe in the age-old axiom: Shatabi kare kharabi Haste makes waste.
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News Updated at : Sunday, November 11, 2012
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