Views from Srinagar Kash­mir’s new phase of insecurity

Pakistan Observer - - KASHMIR - [Au­thor is vet­eran jour­nal­ist/writer based in Srinagar] shu­

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

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