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The Litany of Politics on Kashmir         

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By: SHAH KHALID

Recently the Prime Minister of India, from the ramparts of red fort, reiterated that bullet was not a solution and ‘embracing Kashmiri’s is the real mantra’ and yet the situation on the ground remains as grim as ever. During the 2010 unrest, when congress government was at the center, it had started shifting the whole ‘protest’ blame on Pakistan either choreographing it or funding it. At the outset, the then Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, and Home secretary, GK Pillai, held the protesters as “Miscreants” and “unruly Mobs”, thereby justifying the use of force by Police and Paramilitary force. By the time they realized that the protesters stemmed from genuine anger, things had slipped from their hands, from bad to worse.

Though, the 2010 unrest forced the then PM Singh to send the All-Party delegation to visit Kashmir and thereafter got the appointment of interlocutors on board, the government pressed the complacency button and failed to implement some of the important recommendations arising out of the All-Party delegation’s visit. One among the most important suggestion made was the Revocation of AFSPA.

While a lot of time has gone by, the severity of the situation here in Kashmir continues to remain at its worst. Whether PM’s Red fort speech or Mr Rajnath’s 5C’s formula as well as the appointment of Interlocutor, situation seems refusing to change.

The PM’s statement comes at a time when whole narrative of Kashmir is in shambles. When whole Hurriyat leadership is caged and people are being harassed to the highest level. Therefore, it makes literally no sense to talk like this and one can easily judge that the statement has obscure motive.

Kashmir dispute remains where it was ever and Delhi’s adoption of all state craft tactics have failed to yield any results. Some leaders say “Sky is limit” some say “it is a unique problem and needs a unique solution” and at this juncture these statements are small steps intended to winning the trust of people of Kashmiri. However, it represents a significant departure in the rhetoric of the Indian state.

The military leadership of India and Pakistan too acknowledged that the status quo in Kashmir with media sabre rattling and political reverse swings do not augur well for the future of  both countries including the Conflict-torn Kashmir. These statements have come after Kashmir had witnessed the dangerous othering. The television anchors of New-Delhi based Media have worked as usual themselves into a frothing rage and rallied public opinions against Kashmir and too in this demeaning business they are also supported by film celebrities who underlined just how normal it is to demonize Kashmir.

New Delhi needs to realize that it cannot wrest control of Kashmir through internet-gag or even financial packages. Kashmir is a political problem, which needs to be addressed politically.  If India continues to turn blind eye to the problem, it will only be detrimental for its own interests in the valley. The result is abetment to revenge in Kashmir than a search for solution to the deepening crises in the state. But now the Indian military leadership has realized that onus is entirely on New Delhi to initiate meaningful political steps to bring the situation back from the brink.

Dialogue is the only way.

It is mind-boggling that the conflict has gone on for several decades and no voice of reason has prevailed even though a large part of the population in India and Pakistan is under the yoke of poverty and disease. The World Bank report revealed that only 40% of people in India have access to toilets. If Government of India is serious to address the issue, they should simply accept the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir and start practical and concrete measures to solve the dispute and earn a place in history as the great saviour of humanity. The Politicians of both India and Pakistan, in view of their National interests and keeping into consideration the public opinion, should resolve all Pending disputes through unconditional dialog among all stakeholders.

Tackling the protesters with bullets and pellets will only worsen the situation, rather than improving it.  Perhaps it was because of that the former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, as initially said, as per the media reports, had said that ‘seven million persons of Kashmir valley feel alienated by the oppressive methods of the Indian government, which was a terrible mistake. So Peace with justice is the only slogan, otherwise there is no end to this political blame game’.

(Shah Khalid is a Srinagar based freelance Journalist)

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