Keep Pushing in Kashmir

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 28 Oct 2017 11:21:33

Most unfortunately, separatism has occupied an important space in Kashmir’s collective political mindset. This is one reality that the average Indian people find hard to believe, let alone digest. They feel enraged that the powers that be have allowed separatism to take root in the Kashmiri soil because of sheer incompetence and political vested interests.

New Delhi, Oct. 26 (PTI): Two days after his appointment, Centre’s interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma, on Thursday, held a meeting with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti at Kashmir House on Prithviraj Road in the national capital, officials said.

After the meeting, Sharma said that the main focus of his visit to Jammu and Kashmir would be to engage youth and provide them with a platform to air their views.

Sharma, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), was appointed a special representative for a “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir, in a fresh move aimed at bringing peace to the troubled State. ...

Meanwhile, Mehbooba Mufti, who also called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said, the situation in the State had improved a lot as violence has come down significantly.
Rajnath Singh has initiated the meeting to discuss Rs. 80,0068 crore development package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his first visit to the Kashmir Valley.


THINGS appear to be moving in Jammu and Kashmir, finally. There is an interlocutor to initiate action. There is also a push by the Centre to the Prime Minister’s developmental package. And to make things appear better, there is an assertion by Chief Minister Ms. Mehbooba Mufti that the situation in the troubled State has improved as violence has come down considerably.

The Centre expects a sustained dialogue with various stakeholders in Kashmir so that there is a platform available for the people of the State, especially the youth, to air their views and grievances. If this move succeeds, then the situation can be expected to show further improvement in the next few months. Obviously, the Centre appears serious about pushing this latest initiative to a logical culmination. The State of Jammu and Kashmir had been waiting for such a move.

In spite of this all, it must be said candidly that Kashmir is a dicey business. For, any interlocutor stands on the thinnest possible ice that could crack easily if there is even a grain of extra weight. This has happened before. Hence a word of caution: Friends, move cautiously. Take care.

Taking care in Kashmir’s context is a complicated business. For, most unfortunately, separatism has occupied an important space in the State’s collective political mindset. This is one reality that the average Indian people find hard to believe, let alone digest. They feel enraged that the powers that be have allowed separatism to take root in the Kashmiri soil because of sheer incompetence and political vested interests over decades.

There is not one single political leader in the country who can deny this sentiment in people’s mind. The whole country knows that the situation in Kashmir has been allowed to go out of control only because some political vested interests allowed the messing up because of wrong definitions of terms such as ‘secularism’. They decided way back in 1948 that their secular claims would be strengthened if they allowed certain concessions to Jammu and Kashmir. Out of that stupid thought came the decision to grant Kashmir a Special Status. That move only separated Kashmir from the rest of the country. That decision also was the beginning of fanning the trouble of separatism in the State.

Now that a new interlocutor has been appointed, there are reasons to believe that the Centre may now come up with a more pointed but equally patient approach to resolving the Kashmir tangle. There is no doubt that Mr. Dineshwar Sharma is a seasoned warrior who knows the Kashmir situation like the back of his palm. Let us only hope that he is able to push the process of dialogue more meaningfully in Kashmir.

There is another dimension, too, that may have a positive impact on the situation. For, even as the dialogue initiative has been set in motion, the Centre also pushed hard to make life hell for separatists. For, the initiative of the National Investigating Agency (NIA) to bust terror-funding modules has yielded good results. Of late, the NIA has been able to bust many separatist modules operating in the Kashmir Valley. Thus, blocking of funds to separatist activity has added another sharp edge to the Government’s initiative. Cumulatively, all these are quite likely to make a good impact as the Government pushes for dialogue. Cornered by the multi-pronged action by the Government, the separatists in Jammu and Kashmir may find it hard to continue. They may feel constrained to get engaged in dialogue.

It is this aspect that needs to be pushed the hardest at this point in time. When Chief Minister Ms. Mehbooba Mufti is ready to expand her considerations beyond sectarian politics, when her own People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is witnessing internal disturbances, when her coalition partner -- Bharatiya Janata Party -- is pushing her to see sense, there is a great chance of the dialogue initiative to yield positive results. Of course, it is necessary to keep in mind that in Kashmir, the winds can start blowing quite in another direction without even a moment’s notice. That has happened because of Pakistan’s cross-border shenanigans from time to time. For, habitually, and of course purposefully, Pakistan has often disturbed India’s internal effort to bring peace to Kashmir. For, it is in a disturbed State that Pakistan can use its terror-ploy as a foreign policy tool.

The success of the current initiative will depend vastly on how India handles that angle. There is a little hitch, however. For, even as the security forces have started pushing their anti-insurgency operations harder, Chief Minister Ms. Mufti has urged them to spare the young people from their harsh ways. She believes that if the youths of Kashmir are spared a little, they might be of help to the Government’s effort to forge a sensible redemption.

However, there should be no confusion on one aspect: The dealings with terror modules. There should be no let-up in that activity. For, if the separatists have to be brought to their knees, anti-insurgency operations will have to be continued in the most ruthless manner, no matter who feels what. The Chief Minister must be made to understand that it is one area in which no compromise could be accepted. Dialogue is welcome, but not by giving up the Government’s constitutionally correct terms. In the past three years, much patient work has been done in Kashmir, though its effect was not to be much visible. Time has come now to have all that work to come to fruition. Now is the time to push the hardest and the deepest and not to quit or even appear to quit.

The solution may not be round the corner, of course. But a positive direction may emerge out of these latest efforts. It is time, thus, for the Central and J&K Governments to stay together on this issue and make possible at least an opening to a solution.