Why this discrimination?

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With each passing day the situation in Kashmir seems to be going from bad to worse. The public anger is touching unprecedented levels and it continues to spill over on the roads and streets every now and then over slightest of pretexts. All that the people of Kashmir have got so far is just promises and pledges from the political leadership. Indeed past week, State Governor Satya Pal Malik grew no bones in squarely blaming both New Delhi and those in the leadership roles here for having brought the situation in Kashmir to where it is now. And what complicates people’s hurt here is the fact that Delhi’s duplicity in treating them different is clearly visible now. This discrimination obviously accentuates their belief that they are facing discrimination, which in turn furthers their feelings of anger and alienation. The loud political rhetoric originating from various political and administrative formations notwithstanding, it goes without saying that so far not much has actually been done to address these popular feelings of isolation.

Accusatory politics aside, one of the major causes for the continuation of problems between the New Delhi and Srinagar has been that people at top have not been able to separate self-seeking political interests from what are, actually, and by all means and counts a humanitarian problems. For instance, the floods of September 2014 did to Kashmir what decades of turmoil had not done (at least in terms of economic costs). But when the GoI was forthcoming in helping the deluged population struck by similar tragedies elsewhere (like in Uttarakhad or even when cloud burst hit some areas of Ladakh in J&K few years back), no such concern and urgency was shown in case of Kashmir. Same has been the case with dealing the recurrent bouts of civilian unrest here – clearly the methods that are employed here are not used anywhere else! It is actually this discriminatory attitude that has over the years added to the distrust and public anger and alienation here.

Given the nature of situational dynamics in Kashmir, it is essential that those in the forefront start looking at the problems here not only through the lenses and prisms of their selfish politics but as problems that concern people of flesh and blood. Over-politicization of more or less all spheres of life including even the apolitical ones has already cost this land quite dearly. It is time that this mindless politicking is stopped and some serious and concerted efforts are initiated to calm the tempers of the people here who have been pushed to the proverbial wall.

While political matters require a political initiative and handling by the political helm, it is really unfortunate that the same has not been forthcoming so far. Though not much is being said on record, but in private some very influential people in political and administrative and security hierarchy are now feeling restive about the way New Delhi is conducting itself vis-à-vis Kashmir.

Call it Government of India’s arrogance or its complacence, the general unconcern at the continued killings here is pushing Kashmir deeper and deeper into the conflict trap. As of now, the status quo is doing no particular harm to Delhi and its interests anywhere, but then it can’t let Kashmir to linger on. Wisdom has it that no politician wants to sit on a hot issue and Kashmir is already hot enough! But the Government of India’s posturing in Kashmir is obviously defying all wisdom because it has been deferring a proper and meaningful engagement over Kashmir on the back of its military might. So far what we have seen the government doing here is harping on a policy of containment while there has been no serious effort of engaging with the political leadership. Getting a few like-minded people from Kashmir on mainstream Indian television channels and making them sing praises for Delhi or have them mouth their selfish and faulty understanding of the crises won’t help. What is needed is engaging with the people of Kashmir. And once Delhi makes up its mind to do so, of course it won’t find itself wanting in how to begin this endeavor.

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