16.8.10

Shoo-shoe, Omar

I don’t know about you, but I am really tired of the intellectual analyses these shoe-throwing incidents have thrown up. The manner in which the media has been tracing the history and dissecting the cases, one would think that every shoe is a dissenter.

The latest target is Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah. I love the picture; it almost looks like the photographer and the assailant had co-ordinated their movements. Now, the Times of India carried this caption: ‘SHOOED’ BUT UNFAZED’ as the footwear ‘sailed over’ the precious head. How was it possible for the CM to get fazed? Does he have eyes above his head or, more appropriately, over his cap?

Or was the reference to his reaction after the incident when the shoe fell ahead of him? An interesting possibility that it sails over his head and falls ahead of him when it was thrown from the third row in front of the dais and might have fallen at the side. Perhaps the direction of the wind had something to do with it.

However, the TOI report is very balanced; so balanced that while it says the man who lost his shoe is a head constable with the J&K police on one page, it mentions later that Abdul Ahad Jan was dismissed and in fact served a sentence and was out on bail. Should not the media – not just this newspaper – have checked on the current status of the man?

No. For it would not help in the slant of the report:

The fact that he did so during I-Day celebrations makes it an even more damaging dereliction of duty.

Had he done it on any other day it would have been less damaging and less of a dereliction of duty? In fact, he is exercising his independence on the given day.

Mind you, Omar has been demanding that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act be revoked so that the J&K police can tackle the troubles in the state directly.

Ah, how wicked. While seeming to take up the cause of Omar, the paper is snidely trying to say that you get the army out of the way and look at what can happen. That is the reason the other story about the cop was pushed to the back pages.

Here is the stuff about him…

  • He was mentally unstable
  • He looked uneasy from the beginning
  • He had been charged with extortion
  • He had been sent by a political party and used the politician’s entry pass. (Names please.)
  • He was shouting pro-azadi (freedom) slogans

Guess what? Omar also mentioned azadi:

Earlier, in his address, Omar said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was ready to consider autonomy for the state as a solution. “But we would like to discuss other options like self-rule and azadi too.”

Back to the shoes, it did not deter our brave CM. He went on to unfurl the flag. The way this is emphasised one would imagine he was grievously injured. Of course, courageous man that he is he said:

“I’ve no regret that somebody threw a shoe and raised azadi slogans. I think it’s a better way of protesting if a shoe is tossed instead of a stone.’’

Bloody hell. Those who are pelting stones are protesting against policies or lack of them, they are protesting for their rights, they have grievances against the social order and against being pushed into a corner, they are being targeted by militants and security forces and used by political parties. Before Omar Abdullah aims at getting martyrdom from those brown shoes, he had better understand that this individually-expressed ire against him is not the same as the movement he will ditch the moment he gets some sops from the Centre for himself. Isn’t that why his papa, Farooq Abdullah, stopped him from resigning? If they want to run the state as a Mom & Pop store, then they'd better just stick to candies.

Don’t speak for the people’s hunger and anger of years.

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