New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir is again in the news because of the meeting between the Prime Minister of India and the Kashmiri leaders.
Jammu and Kashmir is in news, and there is nothing unusual about it. But this time around, all of it gained momentum with Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a crucial meeting with all important Kashmir-based leaders, including from National Conference and PDP.
The ‘drone attack’ has brought things into a direct clash. From the Narendra Modi regime’s point of view, especially in abrogation of Article 370, all efforts have been made to ensure that the average Kashmiri (rather than a citizen of J&K territory) is in line with the overall 'national viewpoint'.
Some elements can always play saboteurs and are ‘off-the-India’ views.
There will always be elements that would gang up to derail the peace and pace of developmental works.
The central government and the local administration, led by a Lieutenant Governor, are devoted to good governance.
There are terrorists or militants; there are so-called separatists. There is still a section of the population susceptible to emotional manipulation.
Of course, any legitimate government cannot compromise in any manner with separatists and terrorists.
Likes of Sajjad Lone, chairperson of People's Conference, says the move by Prime Minister Modi for meeting all sections of political leaders in Kashmir, including from the Gupkar alliance, was a welcome step.
"These are two extremities, if you look at them, I don't," Lone told a news television channel.
Some separatists are pro-Pakistani, or at the very least, they see nothing to argue about beyond Azadi. The latter percentage is somehow reduced once the government has started a firm stand since August 2019.
Among security agencies, they say the term Azadi has been an all-encompassing magical terminology, which has a larger dimension and far-reaching consequences.
The JNU fracas in 2016 was an offshoot of these shenanigans, but it served little purpose.
Then come other issues–the softer ones but yet again crucial. The majority of it is related to job prospects and improvements in health care, education, and other welfare programs.
The level of frustration among educated youths used to be indicated by the huge turnout of boys and girls for examinations conducted by professional courses Board for entrance to MBBS and BDS courses.
This was in 2016 itself and certainly before the bifurcation of the erstwhile state and abrogation of Article 370.
The benefits can be many if the level of governance is adequate, albeit not exceptional.
The current government or administration must ensure that development and transparency in governance, particularly in the absence of corruption and nepotism, can help to alienate the faceless masses from separatists and terrorists and bring them closer to the government apparatus.
In 2017, Arun Jaitley was holding the charge of both the ministries of Finance and Defence. Thus he knew what was ailing the province. Therefore, his remarks made in a media interview then still make sense.
Late Jaitley had said, “When there is peace, the separatists are like fish out of water.”
As a result, it is crucial to remember that separatists in Kashmir, their sympathizers, and sponsors from the outside would try to stir up unrest on such occasions.
These troubles, like stone-pelting, experimented in full gusto in 2015 and 2016. These can lead to a "confrontation" in which an innocent person is hurt, further alienating the victim.
That is why Kashmir has more often witnessed protest demonstrations whenever militants were killed in encounters with security forces.
Here comes the actual test of leadership in Delhi–and the planning they do on multiple fronts, political and security.
The overdose of Azadi–the so-called Left-liberal and often whimsical argument is a big issue confronting policymakers.
Then there is another significant element, and thankfully there is a broad understanding of the same by average Kashmiri today.
The moot point is, the challenge or the root cause of problems for an average Kashmiri is not the ‘vast country of India’ or ‘a Hindu government in Delhi.’
The problem lies with separatists and opportunistic elements that have only misled them over the years.
These did not help resolve the problems either.
The isolation of separatists thus became significant, and that way, this has been a pre-dominant policy of the Modi government.
Once there is violence and other sorts of problems, a message is given that the government should talk to separatists and also Pakistan, a misleading message goes down the line.
Knowingly or otherwise, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti’s ‘Pakistan bogey’ is aimed towards this derailment process only.
Mehbooba Mufti has been an underestimated politician. She has kept cards close to her chest in the past, and she is smart enough to do clever packaging of her public posturing.
Even internationally, there remains a perception that Pakistan and separatists hold the key to long-term peace in Kashmir.
This could be utterly false as many separatist leaders themselves may not enjoy as much power or could exert influence as was often made out.