BJP-PDP government is failing to build a fear free psyche among the Kashmiri youth
By Ashok Bhan
A panic atmospheric has set in Kashmir Valley; Braid chopping is the most scary talking topic throughout the length and breadth of the Valley. The societal discourse of the State has been whipped up by the rumor mongering elements. The State Government has not been able to nab either the miscreants or sternly deal with the mischief mongers. The despondency, fear and disinformation is Galore. The BJP-PDP government is failing to build the fear- free psyche in the society. The civil liberties are imperiled. Performance of religious duties and obligations are curbed. People thus raise genuine questions about the fact that the coalition Government has not only lost the Kashmir plot politically, it has failed on governance. Mehbooba Mufti has a turbulent State to Govern. She is trying her best but unfortunately is on the verge of losing her personal credibility and the PDP is fast losing its political relevance.
Too late too little, after months of bloodshed and muscular assertion, Modi Government has belatedly appointed former director IB as a point-man to engage with stakeholders, not excluding the separatist leadership. It is perceived by BJP a succor to PDP and as a major concession by New Delhi to the people and the parties in Kashmir that relentlessly had been seeking dialogue. At a time when the frenzied street violence is taking its toll, the panic has engulfed the entire Valley on account of braid chopping incidents, politicians and activists facing life threats. The mal governance by the coalition Government is galore — “a political approach is the way out.” The army and the police leadership have often spoken for a political reach out. There is a drift, deadlock, depression and desperation in the Valley’s political atmospherics.
Whether the apolitical point-man — a former IB chief — is the appropriate choice for the challenge in the Valley. When all the past interlocutors of high stature like Late K C Pant, eminent group of Citizens group — The Kashmir Committee, Arun Jaitley, AS Doulat, NN Vohra and Late Dileep Podgaonkar, Prof. MM Ansari and Radha Kumar could not make the desired headway — is to be watched seriously. It is being viewed as a flawed decision “to rush in an apolitical Person a former IPS officer, where angels fear to tread.”Kashmir deserves a respectable dialogue process and prudence warranted a political reach out through a politician of consequence may even from opposition party if BJP has none available to be assisted by likes of point man appointed. Any ways rushing an apolitical interlocutor to Kashmir is better than muscular/pellet assertion.
The J&K State, which is the mosaic of different ethnic, religious and tribal groups united together in a culture of mutual tolerance and creative interaction has got engulfed in the worst phase of intolerance and distortion by the self-serving myths of competing political interests.
The 2014 elections in J&K had brought in hope and aspiration in the people, and particularly the youth of Kashmir valley – that they would benefit from the economic development and progress promised by BJP and Prime Minister Modi to the aspiring young India. The youth in Kashmir got inspired and joined the mainstream agenda by a larger participation in the elections. People decided to give peace and positive economic development agenda a priority and through their large participation in the elections, defeated all the incumbent ministers and the previous government. Such was the fervor of hope and positive participation of the youth, in particular.
It was expected, after the formation of the PDP-BJP coalition government, that it would follow a policy of containment, to limit and scale down the violence and open a peace process with inclusive political discourse and also bring in the economic prosperity through uniform and sustained development and open up avenues of employment for the youth. The government rose to the power behind these expectations of the people.
The coalition government is in place from May 2014 onwards and the disappointment in the people has assumed colossal proportion, Lack of governance, broken promises, intra-regional conflict, the pernicious propaganda blitz of fringe elements and contradictions – both, political and ideological within the government – are attributed for the current despair and disappointment of people. The pro-Pakistan sentiment had lost out and marginalized which was replaced by positive hope and modern economic development agenda, but again that has not come true of this government. The smart governance and space for battle of ideas was promised by the coalition government. Neither the semblance of governance nor the space for any ideas is visible. Instead the radicalized political discourse and violence has been allowed to replace the civility, sanity and tolerant socio- political space. Resurgence of intolerance and violence is a cause of great concern to peace loving citizens and the civil society.
The revival of militant activity in the state is a reminder to all concerned that the militant outfits are still present and active to strike anytime and anywhere. Militants are getting killed almost on daily basis and militants also surrender. As such, the public support to militancy has considerably reduced but it has not disappeared. Huge assembly of people in the funerals of slain militants is a testimony. The bold attacks on army, paramilitary forces and the frequent incidents of infiltration from across the border are on the rise. Civilian and police/security forces casualties are on the rise. The phenomenon of terror, panic and disinformation is back in the valley. Security scenario, both inwardly and on the border is not very assuring.
Pakistan is at the root of destabilizing the mainstream dispensation. She always describes Kashmir as an unfinished agenda of partition and has launched a proxy terrorist war in the State by unleashing death & destruction since 1990. The killings of innocent people are on the rise and people’s sympathy towards the slain militants is disappointing.
Enough Kashmiri blood is spilt; almost a generation is in grave yards. The Kashmiri Pandits are in exile for the last 28 years and suffering. The process of disintegration of Kashmiri civilization/society is going on a high pace. What is the net and end result and how long — “The political leadership of all the hues have to answer.”
The State Government appears to be in a tight spot. Civil society has a big role, it has to rise to the occasion to initiate, strengthen and defend peace process agenda. It must ensure that there is no further loss of innocent lives. The fruits of development shall have to reach out to every deserving citizen. All right thinking citizens of the State and the country, including me, are worried and concerned about the current political and economic affairs of the State.
The Prime Minister and the Central Government has to reinforce and implement all the schemes like Udaan, Himayat etc., to augment the employment avenues along with the special scholarship schemes launched by MHRD and creating opportunities for empowerment by the genuine process of “Vikas.”
A sustained and meaningful engagement with all the stakeholders for the solution of “Kashmir Imbroglio.”
Secondly, there has to be a liberal financial support package for realization of economic entitlement and political rights of the people of J&K. State Government has to strongly continue the hot pursuits against the terrorist and terrorism and the war-like scenario on the border has to end.
Thirdly, there has to be a concrete plan and decision to facilitate dignified return and rehabilitation of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits population back in the valley.
Fourthly, the government has to permit intra-regional cohesion and balance of power and resources within the three regions of the State; launching a government sponsored propaganda biz to blunt the radicalized political discourse. There is need for increased synergy between central agencies and the state police for combating terrorism.
Last, but not the least, that women constitute 50 per cent electorate in the State. There has to be some special package for socio-political and economic empowerment of the women.
(Author is a Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India. Views expressed above are completely personal and doesn’t reflect editorial policy of the magazine)
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