The need of hour in Kashmir is a roadmap
Parliament has spoken, the Prime Minister too has spoken and almost all political parties in Jammu and Kashmir and in the country have expressed anguish over the ongoing crisis in the valley. An all-party meeting is scheduled to take place today, to discuss the situation in Kashmir. The crisis broke out after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last month. Since then, there have been violent protests with leaderless youth coming out, demanding justice.
While some consider Burhan to be a terrorist, others look at him as an icon. Angry youths have flooded the streets, pelting stones at the security forces. This killing has raised a number of questions and issues.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who broke his silence on Kashmir after a month on Tuesday, chose to condemn the violence in the valley while addressing a public meeting in Madhya Pradesh. He spoke of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s chosen path of ‘insaniyat, kashmiriyat andjamhooriat’ for Kashmir.
Modi was eloquent in his remarks and said that “every Indian loves Kashmir” and promised that “the azaadi that every Indian feels, Kashmir can feel too.” But he did not speak about the road map ahead to achieve this. Interestingly, Modi made this remark after Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti paid a visit to New Delhi and appealed for Prime Minister’s intervention.
What was heartening was that during a debate in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, the level was not only high, but members spoke in one voice, condemning the incidents in the valley, They also sought some solution. However, this is not for the first time that such high-sounding words were spoken about Jammu & Kashmir. Round table conferences too were held and expert committee reports have been submitted, but the sad part of the story is that the State continues to cry for help. So, what is required is not just words but action as what follows will be more important.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti keeps talking of a ‘healing touch’, but the Kashmir crisis is not just related to law and order, it is a multi-dimensional problem. It has an emotional, political, religious and international dimension and all these needs to be addressed. It is not as if successive Governments have not taken note. They just failed to tackle it.
There are three levels of problems in Kashmir. The first is international. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh blamed Pakistan for the unrest. But there is also Pakistan-sponsored anti-India propaganda outside about Kashmir and this needs to be tackled. As many experts feel, dialogue is the only way forward and perhaps resumption of dialogue with Pakistan can be the first step.
At the second level, the State is hit hard by the present crisis with an unprecedented curfew. Immediate priority should be given to restore law and order situation, calm public anger and bring back confidence among the people. For this, Mehbooba Mufti needs support from the Centre and other political parties. She is running a shaky coalition. Moreover, Mehbooba Mufti does not inspire the same confidence as her father did. There is mistrust between the partners and Mehbooba Mufti is worried about the political implications of coalition politics. Both parties (BJP-PDP) should try to implement a common agenda, agreed between the two partners.
The third one is dialogue with all stake holders. Singh announced that the Government is willing to hold dialogue with mainstream political parties, ‘moderates’ and other ‘organisations’ in the State but for this dialogue to succeed, the Government must have a framework. There are various reports gathering dust in the Home Ministry. It is time to see how to make use of them. Prime Minister Modi spoke of development and economy, but it goes beyond that. There is no doubt that the economy is badly hit by crisis.
Mehbooba Mufti’s ‘healing touch’ needs to be applied to the misguided angry youth. Dreams of two generations have been lost in the past two decades. However, the danger today is home-grown militancy. Above all, as many members spoke in Parliament about trust deficit, the people of the State lack confidence in politicians. This needs to be bridged and confidence-building measures should be undertaken on an urgent basis. The Union Government, the State, the civil society, political parties and the people of Jammu & Kashmir must feel that the whole country is behind them.