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Kashmir : The Tranquility in turmoil

It was supposed to be a new world that Lord Mountbatten traversed in those last months of 1947 as British India’s last viceroy. The Indian subcontinent, so long the jewel in Great Britain’s imperial crown, had been born anew and transformed into two sovereign states. And yet, as he made his way from Delhi to Karachi, it must have occurred to Mountbatten how little things had actually changed. Decades of nationalist struggle, two world wars, a formal transfer of power and millions of deaths later, he still had to mediate between the leaders of the new subcontinent. They were still grappling with – and fighting over – a number of unanswered questions. Perched on the very top of those questions was the one of Kashmir.

History of violence

For the most part, Kashmir has been known to people through state representations. This is true for Kashmir’s history and perhaps equally so for the policies of the two states towards it. Both Islamabad and New Delhi ceaselessly try to expunge from public imagination anything that questions, albeit remotely, their official narratives on Kashmir even when the two narratives sometimes are as divergent from truth as they are from each other.

Alas, because of this dispute between the two nations, Jammu and Kashmir has been long a breeding ground of separatist ambitions. It has been wrecked by the insurgency since 1989. Although the failure of governance and democracy lay at the root of the initial disaffection, Pakistan played an important role in converting the latter into a fully developed insurgency. Some insurgent groups in Kashmir support the complete independence, whereas others seek accession to Pakistan.

Funerals of slain militants, which customarily attract a mammoth gathering of slogan-shouting and stone-pelting protestors, have glorified death at the hands of state. The presence of active militants at the funerals, where they give so-called gun salutes to their slain comrades, has particularly unnerved the security forces as such an unrestrained interaction is one of the key contributing factors facilitating recruitment into insurgency, besides increasing Islamist radicalization and religious indoctrination.

Though there is no single silver bullet which works in all counter-insurgency situations, however, as argued by Kilcullen in a book, the golden principle remains the same: ‘A defection is better than surrender; surrender is better than a capture, and a capture is better than a kill.” Realizing the ineffectiveness of ‘killing strategy’, the Modi government recently came out with a brilliant proposal by revoking the Article 370, which granted special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, moving ahead with its plan to fundamentally change J&K’s relation to India.

Article 370: The end to all suffering

“Ever since Article 370 was abrogated on August 5, the Valley has been by and large peaceful apart from certain stray incidents of stone-pelting. The situation in valley is under control, there has been significant improvement in all the violence parameters in Kashmir,” Lt Gen Singh told reporters.

“There has been reduction in terrorist initiated incidents and in the protests that were carried out by the people or the large number of crowds coming out,” he added.

 The abrogation of Article 370 would pave the way for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, so far leading lives of second class citizens, to join the mainstream of the nation. After the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, people of Kashmir will get education and job which will thwart these self-proclaimed religious leaders from brainwashing them and furthering their agenda of making Kashmir an independent state. Pakistan’s reaction has been predictably dismissive to this renewed vigour in India’s pursuit of Kashmir.

Most recently, in occupied Kashmir, The JKLF called for strikes on Feb. 9 and Feb. 11 to observe the anniversary of the death of Afzal Guru, and then that of its founder Maqbool Butt. Although a partial shutdown was observed to mark the 36th martyrdom anniversary of Muhammad Maqbool Butt, however, normal life continued to function in the Kashmir Valley. The Indian authorities were careful in imposing restrictions to prevent anti-India protests and to see to it that law and order is maintained. Most of the shops and business establishments remained open in Srinagar and other parts of the territory while traffic was seen to be normal on the road. Also restoration of internet services could bring some semblance of normalcy to the region.

All is Well

There are indications that the two-decade-old jihadist movement against India in Jammu & Kashmir state is entering its last days. A decline in the militancy in Kashmir had begun after the 9/11 attacks, following which the jihadist-minded terrorist organizations everywhere lost legitimacy, including in Kashmir.

From various Indian media reports, one can observe signs of positive developments in Kashmir valley.

Post abrogation of article 370 and  with militant attacks significantly down, Jammu and Kashmir – known as paradise on earth in popular imagination – is attracting tourists again.

The place has witnessed a 50 percent decline in militancy in the valley but the enemies of peace, who don’t want people to live in peace, are still alive… There has been considerable improvement in the law and order situation in Kashmir during the current year and the authorities are trying hard to maintain peace in cooperation with the public.

What should be the approach

Both the central as well as the state government have to take into consideration the views of Common Kashmiris who are coming on streets to pelt stones on our security forces, to scrutinize their action as being voluntary or motivated.

Efforts should be made to reduce the role of separatists in the Socio-Political atmosphere of the state be it by legal or political means. People should openly denounce the ideas of Separatists who are stooges in the hand of Pakistan just to stabilize the popularly democratically elected regime of the state. If that happens, it will potentially reduce the relevance of Separatists in the Kashmir conflict, as really they don’t stand a party.

Social media here can be used positively, people can be informed about the exact situation prevailing and how rabble-rousers unscrupulous elements are trying to incite them. This is such a move that can really show fast results. Obviously, it is difficult but not impossible.

Government along with a system to deal with separatists and stone-pelters must carve out a policy so that a long term peace can be established in the valley. Peace is not something that woos masses rather violence is, which makes Kashmir to burn and suffer. We don’t talk to negotiate with Pakistan but talk of war. This thinking has to be changed as war can’t be a solution to any problem at a time when both the countries are nuclear powers.

Viewpoint

It is obvious that people reject the false propaganda of Pakistan on the human rights violation in Kashmir. There is clearly a resentment among the people which is somewhere building over the number of years gradually making the situation hostile there in the valley. A thoughtful disposition to the issue HAS TO BE BROUGHT ON BY THE RULING DISPENSATIONS, BE IT AT THE CENTRE OR THE STATE, so that normalcy can be restored fast in the state.

MAY PEACE PREVAIL!!!!!

13 Feb 20/Thursday                                                             Written By: Saima Ibrahim

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