Wors­en­ing Kash­mir Sit­u­a­tion

Con­di­tion in val­ley has fur­ther de­te­ri­o­rated un­der the Modi led NDA gov­ern­ment

The Day After - - CONTENT - BY ASHOK BHAN

Gov­er­nor NN VohraH un­like many of his pre­de­ces­sors in of­fice has the ex­pe­ri­ence of safe play. He keeps his eyes and ears open in the skull­dug­gery and ruth­less power play games in Kash­mir over the last10 years he held the job of Gover­norH He took over on 26 JuneH 2008H when the state was in ut­ter turmoil over the trans­fer of land to the Sri Amar­nath Shrine Board by the State Gov­ern­ment headed by Ghu­lam Nabi AYad with the sup­port of Mufti’s PDP. AYad’s regime was top­pled by Mufti Syed by with­draw­ing sup­port. AYad tried his level best to stay in power by gar­ner­ing Fa­rooq Ab­dul­lah’s Na­tional Con­fer­ence sup­port. Fa­rooq Ab­dul­lah did not re­spond to AYad’s fran­tic calls in Lon­don where he was en­joy­ing golf with his Delhi based busi­ness­men. AYad could only talk to Ab­dul­lah through the busi­ness­man’s phone to his dis­may Fa­rooq did not say yes or no and fi­nally Omar Ab­dul­lah con­veyed to AYad that too through in­ter­me­da­ter­ies sor­ryH no sup­port. AYad fi­nally re­signedH NN Vohra as Gov­er­nor was asked to hold elec­tions im­me­di­ately and he man­aged to hold and con­ducted elec­tions for a new state Assem­bly smoothly in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber that year — a feat few had thought pos­si­ble. The elec­tions went off smoothly and there was a 70 per­cent turnout in the state.

Such is the ruth­less power game in Kash­mir. Mehbooba Mufti was dealt in no de­cent way; she was in usual busi­ness in the midst of ad­min­is­tra­tive meet­ings in the sec­re­tariat when she got the mes­sage of BJP’s with­drawal of the sup­port to her gov­ern­ment. She re­signed and con­se­quently the Gov­er­nor rule was im­posed.

Vohra’s ad­min­is­tra­tion was gen­er­ally pop­u­lar when Gov­er­nor’s Rule was im­posed again af­ter the 2014 elec­tionsH and the BJP and the PDP took more than two months to ne­go­ti­ate their coali­tionH and af­ter Mufti Mo­ham­mad Say­eed’s death in Jan­uary 2016H when Mehbooba Mufti took three months to take over as Chief Min­is­ter. He per­son­ally is said to have ad­vised Mehbooba Mufti as cen­ter’s emis­sary to lead the Gov­ern­ment to which Ms Mehbooba fa­vor­ably re­sponded. The peo­ple’s ex­pected the peace and Ache Din for Kash­mir that was hugely mar­keted by PM F BJP-PDP al­liance. Kash­miris are hurt and be­trayed say Kash­mir an­a­lysts.

Now that Vohra is in full ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mand -what are the prospects of Kash­mir en­ter­ing the per­ma­nent era of peace for a mean­ing­ful res­o­lu­tion of the im­broglio in the back­drop of the fol­low­ingJ

In Modi regime of last more than four years Kash­mir sit­u­a­tion wors­ened. Kash­miris are hurt and be­trayed. The mil­i­tancy has es­ca­lated. Bor­der with

Pak­istan be­came al­most war­like with daily ex­change of heavy ar­tillery fir­ing on both sides re­sult­ing in heavy ca­su­al­ties of civil­ian pop­u­la­tion and dis­place­ment. In the val­ley and else­where the death toll of civil­iansH and se­cu­rity per­sonal was high. The mil­i­tant’s ranks swelled de­spite many top mil­i­tants liq­ui­dated. The BJP-PDP ex­per­i­ment on pol­i­tics failed. Main­stream po­lit­i­cal space shrunk. Anti In­dia cam­paign and rad­i­cal­iYa­tion gained high­est cur­rency as a nar­ra­tive Hthe so­cio­cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions are de­stroyed and the spiritual ethos is im­per­iled.

Po­lit­i­cally the sep­a­ratist idea per­sistsH in the Val­ley of Kash­mir and parts of Jammu re­gion as well. Mil­i­tant vi­o­lence has been a re­sult of the Pak­istani sup­port and aid to the mil­i­tancy which has in­cluded not just train­ing and armsH but also send­ing in per­son­nel into the Val­ley. The de­mog­ra­phy of the val­ley is changed by ex­ile of a re­li­gious mi­nor­ity.

Is the murky sit­u­a­tion in Kash­mir a con­se­quence of the missed steps in Coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion-? The an­swer is no. -For the rea­son that all the Union Gov­ern­ments in the past and the present one tried the po­lit­i­cal ap­proach – it re­stored the state gov­ern­mentH held elec­tions reg­u­lar­lyH al­lo­cated funds lib­er­ally for the de­vel­op­ment and so on. It has attempted me­di­a­tion through in­ter­locu­tors. But these have never been prop­erly fol­lowed through. The BJP has failed the peo­ple the most in last four years.

One of the causes of the new age tur­bu­lence is at­trib­uted to the be­trayal of demo­cratic ex­pec­ta­tions and the prom­ises made by PM Modi and BJP in the run up cam­paign in 2014 elec­tions. The youth had par­tic­i­pated in large num­bers in the elec­toral process in the 2014 state Assem­bly elec­tions and voted out the in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment. The so called North-South pole al­liance Gov­ern­ment of BJP-PDP was a pos­i­tive con­se­quence of the prom­ises. Now the ground re­al­ity is that The Gov­ern­ment failed the peo­ple. How to win back the trust and good­will of all the sec­tions and re­spect their as­pi­ra­tions is the Chal­lenge in Kash­mir-?

Chal­lenge to va­lid­ity of Ar­ti­cle 35-A of In­dian Con­sti­tu­tion be­fore the apex court af­ter sixty years is seen as RSS brain child and yet another con­certed plan of Sangh Pari­var to pro­mote its di­vi­sive agenda and erode Mus­lim ma­jor­ity char­ac­ter of the JK State. It has fur­ther made sep­a­ratist sen­ti­ments/move­ment stronger say the mod­er­ate ed­u­cated Kash­miris.

What the gov­ern­ment is up to is not clear. So far it has op­er­ated with the be­lief that past poli­cies of deal­ing with the is­sue were too soft. There was need to show the Kash­miris that mil­i­tancy will not work and that they could not ex­pect any po­lit­i­cal mileage and con­ces­sions by gun trot­ting .So af­ter ham­mer­ing the sep­a­ratists by sys­tem­at­i­cally killing their mil­i­tantsH mov­ing ag­gres­sively against their over ground work­ers and curb­ing the stone-throw­ers. The con­di­tions in the Val­ley have been grim in the past year par­tic­u­larly not just for the mil­i­tantsH but their sup­port­ers and the av­er­age citiYens. What the gov­ern­ment seems to be say­ing

is that “we can give you more of thisH un­til an op­por­tu­nity for a way out is found. It has sig­naled that it is will­ing to un­der­take a di­a­logue through an ex-IB chief. Kash­miris of have de­bunked such an ap­proach by re­fus­ing to talk to the cen­tre’s point­man.

Kash­mir is a po­lit­i­cal prob­lem that calls for an out of box ap­proach. Kash­niris are fa­tigued of vi­o­lence and loss of in­no­cent lives. The so­ci­etal psy­che has con­vinced it­self that Sep­a­ra­tion from In­dia is im­pos­si­ble and im­prac­ti­cal. A dig­ni­fied exit route from the cur­rent turmoil is the new mantra the Kash­miris are crav­ing for.

A com­pre­hen­sive process to re­solve the is­sues in­stead of dither­ing is the way out. Whether PM Modi and BJP has the mind to at­tempt a pol­icy shift in Kash­mir af­fairs or wait till af­ter 2019 gen­eral elec­tion re­sults is the buYY in the Val­ley.

The gov­ern­ment should ac­knowl­edge that use of mil­i­tary force alone is not a so­lu­tion to the com­plex sit­u­a­tion of Kash­mir. It has to be a blend of en­gage­ment and di­a­logue with all the stake­hold­ers. It is the psy­cho­log­i­calH at­ti­tu­di­nalH so­cialH po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic griev­ances that need to be ad­dressed. There­foreH the gov­ern­ment should worry more about win­ning back the trust of the peo­ple and let the ter­ror­ism be han­dled by the se­cu­rity forces. The un­abated turmoil and po­lit­i­cal tur­bu­lence in Kash­mir is rooted deep in the de­nial of jus­ticeH dis­re­spect to le­git­i­mate as­pi­ra­tions and fre­quent skull­dug­gery re­sorted to by New Del­hiH says the av­er­age Kash­miri.

Gov­er­nor rule may bring some suc­cess to se­cu­rity forces in elim­i­nat­ing top mil­i­tant lead­ers. How to tackle the ris­ing re­cruit­ment to the mil­i­tant ranks of even highly ed­u­cated young­sters. It is re­ported that since Gov­er­nor rule more than a doYen ed­u­cated young­sters have joined mil­i­tant ranks. Mil­i­tancy in the Val­ley also seemed to be chang­ing qual­i­ta­tively with fi­day­een (sui­cide) at­tacks tak­ing place over and over again. The mil­i­tancy in the Val­leyH how­ev­erH also seems to have de­vel­oped an au­ton­o­mous rai­son d’etre in the ab­sence of a com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy.

The chang­ing char­ac­ter of the in­sur­gen­cyImil­i­tancy is a se­ri­ous warn­ing sig­nal that an ur­gent pol­icy cor­rec­tion at all lev­els of gov­er­nanceH and a strate­gic shiftH is ur­gently needed to pre­vent es­ca­la­tion and fur­ther rad­i­cal­iYa­tion.

Kash­mir’s in­tel­li­gentsia is sur­prised that New Delhi’s pol­icy and its po­lit­i­cal man­agers are so in­com­pe­tentH apo­lit­i­cal and naiveH as not to be will­ing to leave any space or room for the Kash­miri lead­er­ship to ex­ert a mod­er­at­ing in­flu­ence that could pre­vent young­sters from tak­ing up the gun.

Pak­istan and mil­i­tancy have man­aged to dev­as­tate and desta­bilise the rich so­cio­cul­tural ethos of the peo­ple of Kash­mir and im­per­illed the spiritual value struc­ture by im­pos­ing rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion. Kash­mir has been on the boil for more than 29 years. Tens of thou­sands of peo­pleH both civil­ians and sol­diers have died and the pop­u­la­tion of Kash­miri Pan­dits ex­iled. Kash­mir af­fairs are seem­ingly messed up. Ter­ror­ism has ren­dered the stateH es­pe­cially the Val­leyH with­out lib­erty and in­di­vid­u­al­ity. It has dev­as­tated the econ­o­myH ed­u­ca­tion and nor­mal liv­ing pat­ternH the plu­ral ethosH and im­per­iled in­sti­tu­tions. The so­ci­etal psy­che is turn­ing cyn­i­cal and de­spon­dent.

In the name of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion peo­ple have no voice of their own and the emo­tions are con­trolled and charged by prox­ies. Peo­ple know the dis­as­trous con­se­quences of the harm Pak­istan and ter­ror­ists have done to the cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Kash­mir. But the anti-In­dia sen­ti­ment that has grown over the years is so strong that peo­ple refuse to see the logic.

There isH the big ele­phant in the room— Pak­istan. Like it or notH any so­lu­tion of the Kash­mir is­sue re­quires a two track process in­volv­ing the do­mes­tic sep­a­ratistsH all the stake­hold­ers and the Pak­ista­nis. De­spite Coun­try’s best ef­forts to iso­late Pak­istanH Is­lam­abad re­tains the abil­ity to play spoiler in the process through its ji­hadi prox­ies. But as of nowH New Delhi is firmly against any diplo­matic process with Pak­istanH soH one can be sure main stream­ing Kash­mir will act as a red rag to the Pak­istani bull. Un­lessH of courseH New Delhi plans a par­al­lel ini­tia­tive with Is­lam­abad.

TourismH ed­u­ca­tionH health ser­vicesH law and or­derH de­vel­op­men­tal ac­tiv­i­ties and pub­lic griev­ances sys­tem have col­lapsed or stand com­pletely eroded. Demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions have been marginalised and dis­cred­ited. DrugsH black mar­ket­ing of es­sen­tial goodsH smug­gling of tim­berH hawala and fake cur­rency have be­come the back­bone of a par­al­lel con­flict econ­omy. Nvery­thing needs to be put in or­der by Gov­er­nor un­der his rule par­al­lel to with the po­lit­i­cal reach out process.

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 Pan­ditsH and not the land alone. Kash­mir de­serves con­sen­sus

PM Naren­dra Modi with newly ap­pointed Jammu & Kash­mir Gov­er­nor Satya Pal Ma­lik

All party meet­ing on se­cu­rity man­age­ment is­sues in J&K

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