In view of the weak and marginalised position of the separatists, many analysts and Kashmir experts have expressed a view that they should be kept out of the
The unrest in Kashmir has impacted the collective psyche of the nation. There is not one Indian who does not want the mindless violence to come to an end and normalcy to
prevail. The centre has approached the problem with a humane and mature
attitude. Since the agitation has a local character, an open mandate has been given to the State Government to deal with the situation. Overreaching moral and material support, of course, has been extended to the State Government. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been
provided whatever she has asked for.
Many Union ministries, particularly, the Home and the Defence Ministries have been in close touch with all levels of the state machinery. Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh have made
several visits to the State.
It is unfortunate that the media failed to understand, comprehend and grasp this maturity exhibited by the centre. It made frequent calls for a statement by the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Modi articulated his vision of dealing with the situation within the framework of the Constitution and on the basis of the concept of “Insaniyat, Jamooriat, Kashmiriyat” visualised by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee.
He also expressed grief at the loss of life and limb and concern for the
indoctrination of the youth to follow the path of violence. He termed the situation where those who should have books and computers in their hands are now pelting stones as unfortunate.
Despite the honest attempt by the Prime Minister to bring some positivity and purposefulness in the approach to the problem, the haranguing did not stop. Opposition termed the statements as too less and too late, media went into sensationalism mode and thus the debate raged.
The wise statements and appeal made by Prime Minister Modi,
thus, lost their impact due to this
politicisation. Undesirable criticism and politicisation the same generated a feeling among the agitators that the centre was getting weakened by their acts. This has emerged as one reason for the agitation getting prolonged.
The lesson learnt is that the original strategy adopted by Prime Minister Modi and his government to allow the State Government to deal with the essentially local problem was wise. It should have been followed to the end.
As part of the process of engagement and outreach evolved by the Centre, an all-party delegation was recently sent to Jammu & Kashmir; the delegation spent most of its time in the Kashmir Valley.
Some very senior and respected
parliamentarians who formed part of the delegation went out of their way to reach out to the separatists by even going to their houses to meet them. They were snubbed by the separatist leaders in a manner that has evoked outrage.
What prompted the separatists to stay away from dialogue? One reason could be that they have no control over the agitators and, as such, are unwilling to make a political commitment that they would not be able to implement. They are simply hiding to escape exposure. There can be no bigger example of their irrelevance.
In view of the weak and marginalised position of the separatists, many
analysts and Kashmir experts have expressed a view that they should be kept out of the engagement loop. The merit of the view is no apparent.
It, therefore, is established that there are gaps in the Kashmiri
leadership which some unscrupulous elements are trying to fill. Hence, there is a need for re-evaluation of the
situation and responses.
Some define what is happening over there as a political problem while others define it as a law and order issue. It is actually a bit of both.
It is a law and order problem to the extent that the young boys who are spearheading the agitation lack both maturity and understanding. They are victims of a well planned indoctrination against the Indian state carried out with foreign funding and are giving vent to an emotional upheaval caused by constant exposure to a hate filled environment.
The fact that they are demanding azaadi (freedom) in a free country and a free polity clearly indicates the extent of unreasonableness to which they have been programmed by foreign forces.
As things stand, only the people of Kashmir, the mothers, the sisters, the families and leaders of society can drive some sense into the young boys.
They need to be made to realise that inflicting self injuries is not going to give any positive outcome. Change can be instituted only on the basis of a sound foundation of pragmatism, righteousness and justification. They need first to make themselves capable of bringing about the changes that they desire and then attempt to do so in a civilised manner.
The local initiative to calm down the agitators can be followed by a larger political exercise to identify the cause of the unrest and evolve a strategy to ensure that it does not occur again.
It is here that the centre has a larger role to play, but again in concert with the Government as well as the political spectrum of the State.
To exemplify, let us see how the security issues can be addressed in a new perspective.
It is apparent that there is a feeling of animosity against the paramilitary forces. One option to deal with the same could be strengthening of the Jammu and Kashmir Police followed by
reduction, if not removal, of the
paramilitary deployment. For doing something like this the initiative has to come from the State and assistance can be provided by the Centre.
Changing the narrative Kashmir is the need of the hour; the change,
however, has to be ushered primarily by the Kashmiri society itself. The Indian government and the Indian nation can assist by extending all possible help and support. More than ample indications have been given that the support will be forthcoming. It is up to the people of Kashmir to accept this holy assurance.
(The writer is an author and columnist)