Kashmir, a big chance for PM Modi to stride into history
After Narendra Modi’s historic victory, people’s expectations have risen sky high and aspirational India is looking up to him as a new messiah, who can solve all critical problems that the nation faces — terrorism, economic slowdown, unemployment, agrarian distress, Kashmir, issues of Article 370 and 35-A, return of exiled Pandits back to Kashmir — and virtually everything under the sun.
Though expectations have been raised high on the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A, experts believe it might not be doable.
Kashmir and the country’s relations with Pakistan has to be the main focus of the central government and home minister Amit Shah, who has to realise that the Kashmir affair has wheels within wheels and international players
Ashok Bhan are keenly watching the Indian government’s next move.
The government also needs to acknowledge that the use of terrorist force is not a solution to the complex situation in Kashmir.
To win people’s trust is the real issue. It is possible through engagement with all stakeholders. In the name of self-determination, people have no voice of their own and are controlled by proxies from across the border.
The citizens know the disastrous consequences of what Pakistan and terrorists have done to the current and future generations of Kashmir. But equally, an anti-india sentiment that has grown over the years, is so strong that common people refuse to see the logic.
Pakistan plays spoiler whenever there is an attempt to open talks with Kashmiris for peace and progress — in other words, it is engaged in a hybrid war.
Security forces and intelligence agencies have overlooked and misjudged the potential of this hybrid war. The result is that tourism, education, health services, law and order, developmental activities and public grievances system have all collapsed in the state.
Democratic institutions stand marginalised and discredited. Drugs, black marketing of essential goods, smuggling of timber, hawala and fake currency have become the backbone of a parallel conflict economy.
Kashmir deserves to be managed by an out-of-box “vision” that can encompass a comprehensive process to resolve outstanding issues, rather than dithering. Governor’s rule is no substitute to democracy and elections have to be held.
People’s support to extremism, seen in their large participation at funerals of slain militants, are issues that should worry citizens and even more, the government.
Terrorism in the Kashmir Valley has developed an autonomous raison d’etre in the absence of a comprehensive policy and dialogue with stakeholders.
Unrest in Kashmir has frequently been attributed to cross-border hostilities and terrorism. But political turbulence in the state is rooted deep in the denial of justice, disrespect for legitimate aspirations and skulduggery resorted to by New Delhi over the years, allege the Kashmir intelligentsia.
Analysts are surprised that political managers in New Delhi have not left any space for both mainstream and non-mainstream Kashmiri leadership to exert a moderating influence that could prevent youngsters from taking up the gun.
Kashmir has been on the boil for more than 29 years. Tens of thousands of people, both civilians and soldiers, have died and the population of Kashmiri Pandits exiled.
Terrorism has rendered the state, especially the Valley, without liberty and individuality. It has devastated the economy, education, the normal living pattern and the plural ethos. The societal psyche is turning cynical and despondent, which is also the avowed aim of the Pakistanis.
Modi 2.O has raised expectations in Kashmir. The average Kashmiri has both hope and fears. Hope — that Modi’s massive mandate may help him to think out-of-box to resolve the issue and go down in history as a legend. Fears, that his government’s belief in a strong muscular policy and pronounced rhetoric about the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A of the Constitution and change in regional electoral demography by refreezing the delimitation in Jammu & Kashmir state, could be damaging.
There is an urgency to create consensus across the political spectrum. Opposition parties, including the Congress, have a big stake and role in shaping the future Kashmir policy. Kashmir has to be treated as a national priority and an independent issue that deserves collective national attention and a comprehensive national policy instead of a party-centric approach.