So far so good
Union Minister of State for Home, Hansraj Ahir’s statement on the floor of Lok Sabha that there is currently no proposal regarding scrapping of Article 370 under the consideration of the government, has come as a relief to all right thinking people in Jammu and Kashmir and also in rest of the country. Article 370 of Indian Constitution grants a special status to the Jammu and Kashmir state within the Indian Union. The BJP has all along been pressing for its abrogation and the issue has always been core of right-wing party’s polity. However, when the party, under the banner of NDA, came into power for the first time with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as its Prime Minister, it didn’t make any effort or noise about the issue. Unlike Vajpayee’s regime, present dispensation has been raising the issue in different fora time and again thus making the situation here, which is already volatile, more worrisome. In this backdrop, MoS Home’s clarification may silence the anti-Article 370 voices for a while and give some respite to ruling PDP here which is sharing power in the state with those who raise such voices.
So far so good but the situation in Kashmir is really worrisome because there is a huge multitude of actors who are working overtime to just ensure that the situation here remains forever on boil. And mind it these provocateurs are present on both sides of the political divide — non -state actors as well as the state actors. The new-age militancy with a strong dose of radicalization is emerging as a serious challenge not only for the security apparatus but also for Kashmir society itself. Young boys, from well-to-do families are joining militant ranks and unlike the youth of 1990’s, who took to arms, by and large, in reaction to rigged election of 1987, today’s youth are driven by fanatic religious ideology. That is the reason that ISIS murmurs are heard very frequently. In such a volatile atmosphere, the little the central government can do is to avoid raising issues like the Article 370 and Article 35 A. Fiddling with the constitutional guarantees has a strong potential to deteriorate the situation further.
Whether one likes it or not, unless New Delhi does something serious to open up communication links with the separatist leadership, things are not going to improve. Recent history stands witness that whenever there has been some sort of communication between New Delhi and the separatists, the ground situation in the Valley has shown considerable improvement. However, with no movement forward on dialogue front, it is cynicism, desperation and depression that are driving Kashmiri youth towards the extreme right — as they see no light at the end of the tunnel. New Delhi will have to realize that separatist leadership, despite all their shortcomings, is still an asset which has to be kept intact. The young boys joining militancy in Kashmir are a radicalised lot. They do not care about historical realities, United Nations resolutions or Pakistan. They seem to have just one agenda – the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in Kashmir – a dream akin to the ideology of terrorist groups like the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Once the separatist leadership is out of the picture, New Delhi is likely to be confronted by these largely faceless radicals, who believe in an ideology where there is no scope for any dialogue or reconciliation.
New Delhi would have to move beyond Dineshwar Sharma initiative if it really wants to have some breakthrough in Kashmir and engage with the separatist leadership. That said, nobody can shut eyes to the influence and control that Pakistan has over the separatist leadership. Therefore, it will be naïve to suggest that separatist leadership will agree to join any dialogue process unless it gets a go-ahead from the neighbouring country. And this necessitates opening of communication links with Pakistan as well.