Financial Chronicle - - EDIT, OPED, THE WORKS - ASHOK BHAN

ANTI-TER­ROR­ISM units of Army, po­lice and the other op­er­a­tional se­cu­rity forces/agen­cies have termed/de­scribed the elim­i­na­tion of more than a dozen ter­ror­ists and ar­rest of one, on Sun­day, as a ma­jor suc­cess in anti-ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tions. “In­deed it is” – but with a caveat that its col­lat­eral dam­age of death of civil­ians and se­cu­rity per­son­nel and dam­age to civil­ian prop­erty is painful. Sub­tle peo­ple’s sup­port to mil­i­tancy by large par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fu­ner­als of slain mil­i­tants and large-scale protests across the Val­ley are the con­comi­tant is­sues that should worry all and the gov­ern­ment in par­tic­u­lar. The nor­mal life in the val­ley is paral­ysed. Cur­few like sit­u­a­tion in large parts of the Val­ley pre­vails. Busi­nesses, schools, col­leges have shut in re­sponse to the strike call given by sep­a­ratists lead­er­ship. The Tourist ses­sion is in peril.

Within the Kash­mir Val­ley, de­spite the suc­cess of the se­cu­rity forces in elim­i­nat­ing top militant lead­ers, the re­cruit­ment to the militant ranks is on the rise with even highly ed­u­cated young­sters choos­ing to pick up the gun. Mil­i­tancy in the Val­ley also seemed to be chang­ing qual­i­ta­tively with fi­day­een at­tacks tak­ing place. The ed­u­cated young man and son of a re­cently ap­pointed chief of hard­line Hur­riyat is the lat­est vol­un­tary ad­di­tion into the ranks of mil­i­tants.

Kash­mir is on the edge by the con­tin­u­ing un­rest for the last few years and size­able lo­cal youth vol­un­teer­ing for re­cruit­ment to mil­i­tancy. It is viewed as a re­sult of deep mass alien­ation caused due to mis­man­age­ment of Kash­mir af­fairs from time to time. The un­rest has al­ways been at­trib­uted as an off­shoot of cross­bor­der hos­til­i­ties and ter­ror­ism. The un­abated tur­moil and po­lit­i­cal tur­bu­lence in Kash­mir is rooted deep in the de­nial of jus­tice, dis­re­spect to le­git­i­mate as­pi­ra­tions and fre­quent skull­dug­gery re­sorted by New Delhi, say, the Kash­miri in­tel­li­gentsia and main stream leg­is­la­tors. Kash­mir de­serves to be man­aged with a “grand vi­sion “that can en­com­pass a com­pre­hen­sive process to re­solve the Im­broglio in­stead of dither­ing Kash­mir craves for gen­uine peace and not the peace around grave­yards”.

The mil­i­tancy in the Val­ley, how­ever, also seems to have de­vel­oped an au­tonomous rai­son d’etre in the ab­sence of any po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue. Kash­mir an­a­lysts are sur­prised as to whether New Delhi’s pol­icy man­agers are so in­com­pe­tent, apo­lit­i­cal and naive, not will­ing to leave any space or room for the Kash­miri lead­er­ship to ex­ert mod­er­at­ing in­flu­ences that could pre­vent young­sters from tak­ing up the gun.

Kash­mir is on un­abated boil for more than 29 years. Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple, both civil­ians and sol­diers have died and pop­u­la­tion of Kash­miri Pan­dits ex­iled. Kash­mir af­fairs are seem­ingly messed up. Hit by mil­i­tarised hos­til­i­ties and day-to-day shelling along the LOC, civil­ian pop­u­la­tions in bor­der ar­eas are suf­fer­ing the most.

The un­usual es­ca­la­tion is re­sult­ing in a high death toll – the ca­su­al­ties in Jan­uary 2018 alone equalled the fig­ure for the en­tire 2017. And 2017 it­self was an ex­cep­tional year for cease-fire vi­o­la­tions, as they rep­re­sented a six-fold in­crease com­pared to 2015.The cease­fire un­der­stand­ing reached be­tween In­dia-Pak­istan in 2003 was vi­o­lated with im­punity with small arms fire giv­ing way to heavy mor­tar and fi­nally, even ar­tillery. The col­lat­eral dam­age to civil­ians liv­ing in the bor­der ar­eas is colos­sal.

On the name of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion, peo­ple have no voice of their own and the emo­tions are con­trolled and charged by prox­ies. Peo­ple seem to be slaves of the dic­tates of the ter­ror­ists and separists. Peo­ple know the dis­as­trous con­se­quences of the harm Pak­istan and ter­ror­ists have done to the cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Kash­mir. But the an­tiIn­dia sen­ti­ment cam­paigned over the years is so strong that peo­ple refuse to see the logic. It is ev­i­dent that Pak­istan has ef­fec­tively dis­abled Kash­mir po­lit­i­cally, psy­cho­log­i­cally and changed the de­mog­ra­phy of the Va­ley.

The gov­ern­ment should ac­knowl­edge that use of mil­i­tary force is not a so­lu­tion to the com­plex sit­u­a­tion of Kash­mir. It has to be blend with en­gage­ment and di­a­logue with all the stake­hold­ers. It is the psy­cho­log­i­cal, at­ti­tu­di­nal, so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic griev­ances that need to be ad­dressed. There­fore the Gov­ern­ment should worry more about win­ing trust of the peo­ple back and let the ter­ror­ism be han­dled by the se­cu­rity forces. New Delhi needs to ap­proach the is­sues keep­ing in sight the fact that ‘In­dia’s strate­gic in­ter­ests are in­ter­twined with the good­will of the ‘Val­ley’s or­di­nary Peo­ple in­clud­ing Kash­miri Pan­dits’ and not the land alone. Be­fore the new age vi­o­lent un­rest and up­surge yet gets out of hand, New Delhi needs to deal with the is­sues in hand with a “grand vi­sion”.

Ab­sence of en­gage­ment and di­a­logue has re­sulted into a sit­u­a­tion where stake­hold­ers are be­hav­ing “like a bull in a china shop”. Po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue with all the stake­hold­ers is needed through an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­knowl­edged ju­rispru­dence for con­flict res­o­lu­tion. For New Delhi it would be pru­dent and as­tute ap­proach to reach a res­o­lu­tion of “Kash­mir” im­broglio. Prime min­is­ter’s flip flop po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic ef­forts so far have not brought peace in Kash­mir. There­fore change of pol­icy per­cep­tions is the only way for­ward. Kash­mir calls for peace and its peo­ple crave for peace­ful life for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

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