Bringing normalcy back to Kashmir

The elimination of a top leader of the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, Abu Dujana in a joint operation by the security forces after a seven hour long gun battle in Pulwama is undoubtedly a success. But it is doubtful whether it will help restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. Last year on July 8, another dreaded terrorist, Burhan Wani, was killed in an encounter. His death triggered a spate of violence which continues even today. Dealing with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and separatism has become difficult because of the growing alienation of the people of Kashmir. This is underlined by the fact that these days whenever the security forces act or try to act against terrorists they are subjected to heavy stone pelting by mobs. Even in the case of Dujana, a mob started heavy stone pelting in order to help Dujana escape the dragnet. That he could not escape does not undo the fact that a mob tried to help him get away.
The basic problem in Kashmir is that in dealing with the terrorist and separatist forces there, the Governments and policy-makers in Delhi (both during the UPA regime and now under the NDA) have lost the larger political perspective and treated the problem as a mere law and order one. They, the policy-makers, did not try to understand the sentiments of the common Kashmiri people who had earlier never supported the terrorists or been swayed by Pakistani propaganda. This started when Indian politicians tried to do away with all the special rights Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed under the provisions of the Instrument of Accession of Kashmir to the Dominion of India.
The BJP’s consistent demand to do away with Articles 35A and 370 of the Constitution only heightens the sense of alienation. Even the PDP, BJP’s partner in the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, has opposed it. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has openly opposed this demand and knowing full well what she was saying, she went to the extent of saying “Indira is India”. It was a not-so-veiled message to the BJP. Unless the policy-makers understand the pain and anguish of the Kashmiri people, their frustration and sense of bitterness and disillusionment, unless they are able to win back the love and trust of the people of Kashmir, terrorism, insurgency and secessionism cannot be successfully dealt with. Pakistan can do nothing in Kashmir if the people of Kashmir are with us.

Thursday, 3 August, 2017