The fairer troupe that once drummed out the political support has now become frowning figures of lost politics.
As one “madam’s” go-getter from downtown Srinagar, Kulsum is currently living a life of a political recluse.
Bereft of yesteryears’ zeal to participate in political pomp and show, she mostly stays indoors and no longer going out of her way to raise pockets of support for her patron politician.
“Pretentions ended two years back when our tribe was reduced to a band of criminals,” Kulsum, a supporter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Srinagar, says.
“We earned tags and were treated as a pariah for upholding the delusional democracy in the valley. But see, how we’re treated in return. Even our party leader and the former chief minister was treated as if she was a chief of a separatist camp.”
Sulking over the political turn of events in the valley, Kulsum and her comrades say they won’t make a comeback now.
“We’re done with dirt,” she says. “I don’t think loyalty matters in Kashmir politics anymore now.”
This political indifference is markedly stemming in a run-up to the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370.
The “unilateral decision” of stripping the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir of its semiautonomous status on August 5, 2019 rendered Kulsum’s fairer political troupe a nonentity.
Barring BJP rank and file, many reckon, the political ground seems squeezed for the supporters of the traditional Kashmir-based parties.
However, not everyone is calling it a day. Some like Shameema, “a part-time political worker” from north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, are still fighting back.
“We were deceived in the name of politics,” Shameema, 40, says.
“Back in 2014, we celebrated our party PDP’s poll feat. But who knew that our alliance partner BJP is planning something unexpected for us.”
That year, as the ground catalyst for Mehbooba Mufti’s party, Shameema had mobilized people of her locality to vote for the party.
“People voted because I asked them to,” she says. “But now, the same people come to me and ask what’s happening and what’s going to happen but I’ve no answers. Kashmiri politicians who recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi only said that their demands and hopes are high. But honestly, I don’t see much hope now.”
Like Shameema, Tabasum, a political activist from Bandipora, says her political conviction has already paid a huge cost for nothing.
“I was on good terms with my neighbour before the 2014 elections, but we chose to support different parties during elections which created a rift between us,” Tabasum, an NC supporter, says.
“Now we both regret that. Politics is indeed a dirty game. It only smeared our reputation.”
After the August 5 move, says Gafira, another political worker, Kashmir’s women political workers were betrayed. “We’re now worried about the future,” she says.
In “Naya Kashmir”, Gafira is no longer “the voice of a political party” she supported. And that’s why she now focuses more on studies and has left politics because she believes: “Everything goes down the drain in Kashmir at the end of the day.”