Kashmir Valley On the Boil: Talks Necessary for Peace
Kashmir valley is once again on the boil, though with greater intensity. School and college girls too, joining the ranks of stone pelters is a new and worrying development. What should be of concern is the radicalization of the youth through indoctrination and call for creating an Islamic state and not so much for mere ‘azadi.’ Stone pelters no more need monetary incentive for targeting security forces. In this new development separatists have been rendered some what irrelevant while gun, totting terrorists roam the lane of remote villages and elsewhere threatened people, calling upon them to keep away from pooling booths.
It was the killing of a known terrorist, Burhan Wani, that started the agitations and the stone pelting. Since Then social media and cell phone have become the new weapons in the hands of the separatist and ISI of Pakistan, to radicalize the youth, as also through this medium marshal crowds who indulge in stone pelting to interfere with the anti-terrorist operations by the security forces and this often helps terrorists to escape. It is something, which the state government and the Centre, has failed to counter and let the situation slip out of hand. Blocking social media sites and clamping on inter-net by itself is not adequate.
Use of pellet guns by the Central police blinded large number of young boys and that gave greater impetus to protests. It was a wrong weapon for crowd control, equally police used its gun to kill rather than incapacitate the miscreant.
Pakistan was expected to not only exploit the situation but, give further impetus to the disturbances by staging cross border raids in continuation of its policy of ‘thousand cuts.’ Pakistan enjoys China’s backing and together they are putting pressure on India: one by raking up the issue of Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh and the other by giving death sentence to Kulbushan Yadhev. At our end, cow vigilantism and Hindutva brigade, has created new fears in the minds of people of the Valley.
Surgical strikes have had no discernible outcome, except some political gain. Much of the discontent in the Valley has been hyped up. There is no abject poverty there, as it is in other areas of J and k and parts of India. Billions of rupees that Indian government has been doling out to J and K, since independence, have mostly been deployed in the valley, where majority community has been getting the benefits of ‘Minority Community.’ Where subsidized rations has been the norm for a very long time. Ofcourse good portion of funds have been ending up in political and bureaucratic pockets and together they have tried to maintain this state of uncertainty and ambiguity.
Job of security forces in handling bloodthirsty mobs, especially when there is so much restrain on their reactions, is both difficult and stressful. Carrying a stone pelter on the bumper of a jeep was perhaps the best option to rescue those nine odd security personnel, surrounded as they were, by a few hundred strong murderous mob.
Those who criticise this action by the officer have little alternative to offer. What were the possible options for the officer on whom the call for help was made! He could have used force to disperse the mob and rescue those nine odd security personnel. In any case those surrounded by the mob had weapons and could use these and come out of that cordon. However the officer decided to adopt a novel idea of carrying a stone pelter on the bumper of his jeep, which left the mob amused if not confused and he rescued those nine odd security personnel without having to resort to use of force etc. The stone pelter was not put there as a shield because, he shielded nothing. Those living in secure environments and operating from air condition offices cannot get a feel of the stress, heat and pressure on those facing violent mobs and called upon to take instant decisions.
There has been some degree of uneasiness in the present collation government in the state and demand are being made to dismiss it and bring in Presidents rule with a suitable governor. On the issue of starting a dialogue with the ‘stake holders,’ the central government is less enthusiastic and wants normalcy to be restored first. It has become the question of egg or chicken first! The central government does not appear to want to include separatist leaders.
There is much talk of a political solution and yet no one seems to spell out as to what that solution is! It cannot be Azadi. Nor can India accept reverting back to the status the state enjoyed prior to 1953. On the other hand Pandits were driven out of the valley while the Indian state, (during President’s rule ) remained in a state of paralysis and helplessly watched this national disgrace and ignominy. Now their resettlement in the valley is nowhere on the scene. Those who came from PoK and settled South of Pirpanjal Range have yet to get their citizenship and voting rights. Their number is 7.5 lakhs. Even request for land on lease at Baltal, to built temporary shelter for pilgrim on Amarnath yatra resulted in large scale protests by the locals. A defence colony at Srinagar , for ex-servicemen from J and K too has been vehemently opposed by the separatists. Yet government spends around Rs 100 crores for the security and comfort of separatist leaders.
The state has its own constitution and almost independent High Court. Elections are regularly held and political party with majority forms the government as per the democratic norms. It get more money from the central government than its due share.
The immediate solution lies in starting a dialogue with all the stake holders and bring peace to the Valley. It is perhaps wrong to exclude separatists leaders from this proposed dialogue, though they do not contest elections, but do call the shots in the valley. The long term solution lies in bringing prosperity to the state through large scale investment in tourism, industry, education and healthcare, thus creating lakhs of jobs for the youth. Large scale investments can only come about where there is peace and the existing state laws are suitably amended.