Blind alley in Kashmir

The situation in Kashmir is turning from bad to worse. The abnormal has become the normal for the State. Friday saw the killing of six police personnel including an SHO Thijuwara on the outskirts of Anantanag town. The Lashkar-e-Toiba has owned up the incident. A senior police official has vowed to ‘avenge’ the death of his men. Avenge he well may but in all likelihood the terrorists may take reprisal by killing many more. Kashmir has become a boiling cauldron. It is a State where more and more people are becoming hostile to what they call ‘India’ and the Indian Government. 
The Government says it will not talk to ‘separatists’ but only to those who abide by the Constitution of India and accept J & K as an integral part of India. The absurdity of this position is obvious. Those who accept the Constitution of India and accept Kashmir as a part of India are not causing trouble. There is no point in talking to them. If talks are to be held for restoring peace and normalcy, the Government will have to talk to those who are disturbing peace termed in official language to be ‘separatists’. The terrorists sponsored and regularly infiltrated from across the border by Pakistan are able to cause mischief because the people are against the security forces and their operations which are not only killing terrorists but also innocent people. The security forces are not responsible either because they are doing what they have been told to do. It is the political leadership of the Government which will have to think out of the box and take fresh initiative to break the deadlock and create the climate for talks.
In the present circumstances, ‘no talks with terrorists’ means no solution, no attempt at winning over the people and weaning them away from the terrorists. The longer the stalemate continues, the more the people are alienated, the more difficult will it be to reach a solution. A more worrying possibility is that in a future election (which will not be boycotted) even Mehbooba Mufti and her PDP may be defeated and extremist elements contesting as independents will win the majority of the seats.. It is a pity that all the three mainstream parties of the State – PDP, NC and Congress – have thoroughly discredited themselves and lost the confidence of the people. Kashmir will be normal in the true sense of the term again only when it becomes violence-free without the omnipresence of the army. New Delhi must get out of the blind alley it has driven itself into.

Thursday, 22 June, 2017