moot question

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Jun 2018 12:39:38

THE moot question in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is not about a tighter control of the administration just for the sake of it, but about being able to combat separatism and terrorism more capably, something that was not happening under the leadership of Ms. Mehbooba Mufti as Chief Minister of the troubled State. When it became clear to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the woman was not much bothered about the most critical security issue, it decided to walk out of the alliance. Now, the Centre has a rare opportunity to take control of the situation in J&K and curb separatism and terrorism by using all its resources. The most important point, thus, is about taking control not for political purpose but for the purpose of national security. 

Kashmir has never been an easy proposition at any point of time -- from the moment when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession seventy-plus years ago to the moment when the BJP informed Governor Mr. N.N. Vohra that it was walking out of the ruling alliance. In a sequence of errors -- though seemingly unwitting -- the country’s political leadership kept pushing the State towards an unmanageable chaos. It accepted the arrangement of Article 370 of the Constitution of India granting Kashmir a Special Status that acted as an undesirable cocoon keeping the State away from the national mainstream. Most unfortunately that Special Status has become something like a millstone around Kashmir’s neck. Yet, nobody has the courage to withdraw it and grant Kashmir a greater opportunity to be part of the larger India. But nothing of that sort happened and the State got pushed into the unholy grip of separatism and terrorism -- sponsored mainly by Pakistan.

This is the challenge that needs to be tackled on an urgent basis. The BJP’s decision to walk out creates a good window of opportunity to build a great battle against the twin monsters. The issue of Article 370 may be tackled later when times are favourable and more peaceful. But what matters most at this moment is to join forces to ensure that separatism of any shade is erased from Kashmir’s landscape. At this moment, there is a reason to believe that Pakistan has a better grip on the Kashmir situation than does the Government of India. This is a very serious condition for which an effective answer can be found out only by making possible a fine mix of administrative astuteness, political savvy, and military capabilities. This can be possible when the Government adopts a no-nonsense approach to solving the problem of separatism and terrorism sponsored by transborder powers that be of the two evils.

This is only to make a beginning at the earliest. Even as this starts happening, the administration, under Governor’s Rule, will have to take sane but stiff measures to snuff out even hints of separatism, fuelled by various political parties. In addition to various welfare measures, the Government will have to ensure that normal life is restored to the State at the earliest. The schools and colleges must be reopened with a promise of universal security. Hospitals and markets and tourism also must be operated at the optimum level so as to give the impression of normalcy. But all these can be restored only when the undesirable activity of stone pelting is brought to a stop immediately. This is not impossible, given the resolute action by the security personnel without the fear of the politically-driven First Information Reports against them.

There can be a range of smart and tough actions by the Administration under Governor’s Rule -- without any political interference. All these efforts may not guarantee success tomorrow morning. Yet, the very critical first impression will be positive, giving a tough message to all wrong-doers, to begin with.