Views from Srinagar Kashmir’s new phase of insecurity
from 1947 to 1987, Kashmiris reposed faith in the democratic system despite being wooed by the powers outside to do something different. Even in 1975 when Kashmir’s tallest leader Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah entered into an “unproductive” rather humiliating Accord, Kashmiris stood by him. But in turn it only continued to subvert the process that was to rekindle faith.
Today when Kashmir is going through a critical process of self-introspection, it needs a larger space to think. But that is not happening. Even today when Kashmir needs to be approached politically, institutions of different hues are being pushed to the wall, their spaces are being shrunk and an atmosphere of suffocation is being created. As Congress put the last nail in the coffin of mistrust by hanging Afzal Guru in 2013, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Delhi did nothing different. In fact it became more brazen in telling the people that “Kashmir has to be conquered” and the way these plans are being unfolded, it seems that New Delhi does not want peace and stability in Kashmir. On one hand, it is projecting Kashmir as normal with huge tourist rush but on the other it is sending disturbing signals by projecting these plans that are making people insecure.
In 2015 when Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed joined hands with BJP amid strong reservations from his own supporters, it was expected that new bridges would be built, after all BJP had now a stake in smooth functioning of the affairs in the state. That did not happen and the way Mufti was made uncomfortable leading to his unpopularity, BJP showed that it miserably failed to comprehend Kashmir. Its slogan to abrogate Article 370 did not reverberate as such but the acts it did by moving to courts on beef ban and separate flag for Jammu and Kashmir, belied the concept with which Mufti had taken the big risk of joining them. The Agenda of Alliance that was worked between the two coalition partners—PDP and BJP – remained just a pamphlet as its spirit was defied.
The latest controversies revolving around Sainik Colony and separate colony for Kashmiri pandits is not helping the state to be stable. BJP might not have directly touched upon Article 370 that remains its core agenda vis-a-vis the state, but slowly and steadily it has outsourced this job to others. Either it is RSS’s J & K Study Group or any other NGO that is stirring the nest and creating a fresh round of disturbance in the Valley. After becoming partners with PDP, it might not have publicly talked about fiddling with the special status guaranteed under Article 370 but it did not compromise either. Soon after the BJP came to power in Delhi in May 2014, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office and MP from Udhampur Dr Jitendra Singh announced that the process of its repeal had begun. “The process of repealing Article 370 has started. We are speaking to stakeholders to repeal the Act. The BJP has won more than half of the seats from Jammu and Kashmir, so will you interpret it as an endorsement of the BJP’s stand? Article 370 is more like a psychological barrier,” he had said inviting strong reactions from some of the stake holders.
Omar Abdullah who was still a chief minister then had some sharp words to react with. “So the new MOS PMO says process/discussions to revoke Art 370 have started. Wow, that was a quick beginning. Not sure who is talking. Mark my words & save this tweet - long after Modi Govt is a distant memory either J&K won’t be part of India or Art 370 will still exist. Art 370 is the ONLY constitutional link between J&K & rest of India.” Same was case from unexpected quarters – separatists who vowed to fight against it.
New Delhi might have succeeded in reducing the level of debate from “Azadi” to Article 370 but it has not helped in any way in addressing the discontent and alienation. Kashmir is seeing emergence of a new breed of militants, almost all of them locals, and the way people have been joining funerals of the slain militants also defines a new situation in Kashmir. Rather than making efforts to have political engagement in Kashmir and truly follow the oft repeated assertion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to emulate Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s doctrine based on “Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat”, all those forces who are promoted and patronized by New Delhi are adding fuel to the fire and not helping to bring Kashmir back to stability and peace. Today’s Kashmir needs a political solution and by pushing these projects through the barrel of gun or arrogance of power won’t help. One Kashmir gets a better political deal on the issues like rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits will resolve without the involvement of government. Put these controversies at rest and address the real issue on ground. Insecurity among Kashmiris is genuinely grounded in the past and only a forward thinking can do away with it. —Courtesy: Rising Kashmir