“I saw a historic opportunity to break a new path in resolving issues of chronic friction between regions and ethnic groups in the State by forging an alliance with BJP. There is a palpable change in J&K with transparency and good governance becoming the catchwords.” – Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Former Chief Minister of J & K at Ideas India Conclave held at Goa on November 15-17, 2015
The two incidents in the Valley of Jammu & Kashmir State, wrath against non-Kashmiri students in NIT Srinagar and another attempt to target the Bharatiya army in Handwara, may look distant but they reflect the same mindset. Using minor incidents to fuel anti-Bharat sentiments, malign Bharatiya armed forces and disturb the atmosphere of peace has been an old strategy of separatist tendencies in the Valley. This renewed vigour for vitiating the atmosphere is rooted in the process of transformation taking place in the State.
In the case of NIT, an incident of clashes between two students group should not have disturbed the so-called ‘Kashmiri’ leadership, as it was just a matter of a campus and issue was pertaining to winning or losing a cricket match. Separatist leaders did not have much stake in the campus still factions of the Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik gave a call for the shutdown alleging harassment of Kashmiri students studying outside the State. Unfortunately, National Conference leader towed the line of these leaders. The reality is, it was the non-Kashmiri students who have been facing the brunt of some separatist elements in NIT Srinagar, which this time they decided to fight back bravely.
If that was not enough, another story was cooked in Handwara to malign the pet target of separatists, Bharatiya army. Stone pelting groups were on streets to protest against the alleged molestation of a girl by a soldier. Within 24 hours, the reportedly molested girl on camera alleged that a local youth harassed and heckled her. The incident was again used to negate the democratic dividend to common people of the State.
Both these incidents were on the background of reinstating of the PDP-BJP government in the State. Fortunately, on both the incidents the Centre and the State responded in a matured fashion. Mehbooba, after taking over the reins as the first women Chief Minister of the State, not only visited the campus, while visiting the national capital, she assured safety and security to outstation students, denouncing it to be the local versus outsiders issue. She is well aware that to ensure transparency and governance as envisaged by her late father, the institutions like NIT and foundation of peace created by the army, both are very critical to her.
Common people of the Valley are also realising the benefits of this democratic process. Their perception towards army is transforming with the positive initiatives of the forces. The likes of Geelani who have nothing to offer except imposition of Islamic nizam (jurisprudence) in the State and aspiring youth are not going to take weapons for that. The self-inflicted Pakistan is glaring enough for them to desist from such path. The economic, technological, cultural and educational achievements of Bharat are attractive and heartening enough for the Kashmiris as well. The recent joining of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JKLI) of the army by 143 youngsters after successfully completing year-long training is a classic example of this transformation. The more reassuring fact is, more than 20,000 youth applied for the same a year ago. This ground reality is pushing the separatist to the defeatist mindset. As some intellectuals and media personnel, who are losing their safe cocoons within the power corridors, are being ‘intolerant’ to the rising aspirations of Bharat, some self-proclaimed leaders of Kashmiri people are attempting to reinvigorate their lost battle. The path of good governance with participatory and transparent approach and increased mingling of other states in J & K and vice-a-versa is the best solution to defeat the mindset of these defeatists.