Kashmir unrest and Pakistan menace: Political coldness, mass disconnect cause the Valley go awry

As India and the world reacted to the heinous mutilation of two Indian soldiers' bodies in Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch sector of Kashmir, political parties went into a huddle over how to dissipate the tension between the two countries. Major opposition parties — Congress, Left parties, Janata Dal (United), Nationalist Congress Party and Trinamool Congress — are planning to host a national meet in New Delhi to discuss the unending crisis in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to Economic Times, JD(U) senior leader Sharad Yadav met with former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday and suggested that they come up with an alternative to defuse the tension in the Valley. Ever since the encounter of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July, 2016, Kashmir has been a boiling pot of protests, unrest and stone-pelting which has resulted in several civilian deaths and questions being raised at Indian Army's role in the Valley.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre, which is also part of the ruling government in Jammu and Kashmir along with Mehbooba Mufti's Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has come under carping criticism for the way the situation is being handled in the extremely sensitive state.

Speaking to Economic Times, Yadav said that the Opposition may use the opportunity to exchange "views with stakeholders, independent observers, intellectuals and activists" to come up with an alternative vision to alleviate the volatile situation in Kashmir and resume political initiative. "Given the grave situation in Kashmir and the failure of the NDA regime and PDP-BJP government to politically deal with it, there is a need for like-minded Opposition parties and other independent activists and observers of the Valley to jointly work and present before the nation an alternative vision for political initiative in Kashmir," the Economic Times quoted the senior JD(U) leader as saying.

Singh has dealt with the Kashmir situation in the ten years of him as the prime minister under the UPA regime. Secondly, recently the Congress set up a high-level committee headed by Singh to formulate the party’s line and policy regarding Jammu and Kashmir signaling that the worsening situation in the Valley has emerged as a key issue in the Congress' battle against the government.

Centre and the Opposition are currently standing polar opposite to each other as far as dealing with the Kashmir issue. While Opposition has pitching to engage in a dialogue with all the stakeholders in the Valley since July last year, BJP and its allies have been vehemently opposed to the idea.

What the Centre proposes

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has made more than three trips to Kashmir since July last year. After the recent incident, where Pakistan's Border Action Team mutilated bodies of two Indian soldiers, Rajnath met with Kashmir Governor NN Vohra and assured him that the Centre is doing everything in its power to restore peace and stability in the Valley. However, if words could compensate action, Singh's assurances would have actually meant something.

Since the July encounter of Burhan, every time Rajnath went to Kashmir, the visits have been futile. In fact, in August last year, separatists had warned of protests if Rajnath visited Kashmir. The ruling PDP and its stand on policies related to the Valley and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's willingness to have a dialogue with the separatists and her alleged soft attitude towards the likes of Hurriyat Conference does not sit too well with the BJP.

Mufti met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April and stressed on the need for a dialogue, even invoked former prime minister and veteran BJP leader Atal Bihar Vajpayee's way — building trust through dialogue — was the only way forward, but the immediate priority was to disperse friction between the civilians and security forces. "There is no option but to talk," Mehbooba had said.

However, Mufti's overtures were rebuffed by the BJP who said that they are not ready to start any dialogue with those who oppose India, including Hurriyat Conference.

BJP chief Amit Shah, and national general secretary Ram Madhav, the architect of the PDP-BJP alliance, both reiterated that they are against holding dialogue with Hurriyat leaders and the government should, instead, act tough against what Madhav accuses separatist leadership of using "Valley as guinea pigs in their reprehensible politics of violence and separatism", Sameer Yasir reported for Firstpost.

In fact, Madhav, in a Facebook post on 29 April, said that the Centre has "categorically" told the Supreme Court that there is no plan to hold any talks with "the separatists and those who are not loyal to India".

"The separatists have only one motto: One dead body a day, so that they can play sentimental politics over the dead bodies. They use people of the Valley as scapegoats in their reprehensible politics of violence and separatism. The security forces and the government on the other hand try their best to ensure that the ill-intentions of the separatists don't succeed. It is a difficult job being executed with commendable sincerity by the government and security forces."

The basis of the BJP-PDP alliance was "meaningful dialogue" with all "internal stakeholders which include political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections", according to the Agenda of Alliance, which interestingly was curated by Madhav. Senior PDP leaders have unabashedly agreed that agenda of the alliance is the basis for the coalition to come into being in the first place. Senior leaders of PDP are slowly realising the heavy price that they might have to pay for aligning with the BJP.

With three-way politicking taking place in Kashmir, it's hard to ascertain who will blink first. A country with a state so distraught with protests and unrests, that even schoolchildren are skipping schools to protest against the government and the armed forces sadly portray a sad state of affairs. The need of the hour is to hunt for a political solution keeping aside differences so that peace returns to the Valley, students go back to classes and the roads have vehicles plying and not stones flying.

Updated Date: May 04, 2017 07:47 AM

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