this’s progress

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Dec 2017 15:01:49

SHE pelted stones at the police, joining other girls and boys in her locality. Each stone she and her friends pelted made things difficult for Kashmir’s security forces. Thanks to a constructive initiative by the authorities, that girl, Afshan Ashiq, now heads Jammu and Kashmir’s women’s football team, guarding the goal-post during matches. For Kashmir, this small turn of events has tremendous significance. For, it denotes a paradigm shift, howsoever silent. There is a reason for the whole nation to welcome this positive change.

Of course, this has not happened all of a sudden, as we can understand. It happened through a patient communication which the authorities maintained with various segments of Kashmiri population over time. The effort was to win the hearts of those who were described to be disgruntled. Slow, steady talks, with no insistence on one or the other things, led to opening up of minds. Slowly and steadily, the official counselors could communicate to disgruntled elements how the Government had no malice and how it wished to build a strong Kashmir which could happen only if the people cooperated.

The story of Afshan Ashiq is an outcome of this patient effort over time in Kashmir, thanks to the parallel initiatives operated by the Central Government over the past three years. Many such stories are being scripted all over Kashmir at this particular juncture, slowly changing the social psyche, altering perceptions, and making the common Kashmiri people realise that there is no need for them to harbour a persecution complex.

Much to the contrary, the people of Kashmir with no political strings attached, are beginning to realise that it is in their best interest to be part of a nationalistic effort rather than of a separatist one. Thanks to the silent persuasion campaign launched by the Government’s counselors, the Kashmiri people are slowly beginning to understand where wisdom is.

This was necessary in Kashmir where stone-pelting by commoners had become a serious malady for the security forces. Plastic bullets, water canons, or any other tough methods had their own use and effect. But on a parallel track, the Government decided to operate on the psychological component as well. The modus operandi was: Appeal to people’s good sense, urge them to join the national mainstream, ask them to contribute positively to national good, push them to be part of a nationalistic campaign and stay away from separatist one.

Obviously, it worked even as the security forces launched no-nonsense anti-insurgency campaigns against terror outfits and eliminated their leaders and their structures ruthlessly. From time to time, the military authorities kept announcing their gains, but did not say anything about the positive campaign that had been unleashed on the parallel track.

As that track started operating successfully, the Government has now chosen to bring it up in the open for general public to know. This phenomenon of creating positive social connects, this opening up of channels of working together, this effort to bring the youths’ enthusiasm into a creative field like sports is being appreciated everywhere, as reports have us believe.

Actually, this is the Kashmir of Indian people’s dream. This is the Kashmir that we knew existed a few decades ago. And this is the Kashmir in the vision of the Government. It must be admitted that something very positive is taking place there that will protect the region from terrorism and separatism. Those in the Government operating on this campaign deserve a pat on the back for their patient and tireless work on a critical component of the Kashmir situation. May such good work expand. May Kashmiri people realise the power of love and not of bullets.