Narendra Modi, BJP are deceiving Kashmir: How the Valley reacted to PM's speech
However, this time around, even with the curfew in Kashmir extending for over a month, there is surprisingly no sign of fatigue among the Kashmiris.
In response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's delayed attempt to address the ongoing Kashmir crises, people in the Valley, including local businessmen and shopkeepers, have reiterated their support to the protests. The opposition parties have also said that the invocation of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s jamooriyat and insaniyat (democracy and humanity) have been confined to a just a ‘phrase.’
Prime Minister Modi broke his 32-day-long silence over the current unrest in the Valley, while addressing a rally in Madhya Pradesh’s Alirajpur district on Tuesday. Curfew has been imposed in the state for over a month now since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, on 8 July. The clashes and the chaos, that ensued on the streets, following the death of Wani, is unprecedented in the history of a two-decade-old armed conflict in the Valley.
"Every Indian loves Kashmir. The freedom that every Indian has also belongs to every Kashmiri. We want the same bright future for every youth in Kashmir…It is said that boys who should be holding laptops, cricket bats have been handed stones in their hands," PM Modi said while the addressing the rally in Alirajpur on Tuesday.
But where the PM's speech should have made the most impact, has largely criticised him for using a rhetorical developmental plank, instead of addressing the need for a political outreach. "If Indian leadership and people love us so much, why don’t they raise their voice when our children are blinded and teenaged boys are being killed? Why there is an outcry — and I am not saying there should not be — over the rape of a 23-year-old medical student and no one talks about a Class 9 student Insha Malik blinded by pellets and countless others,” chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Muhammad Yasin Khan, told Firstpost.
Khan says the business community, which suffered tremendous loss during the September 2014 floods, is ready to sacrifice their business for a ‘lasting’ and a ‘realistic’ solution of the ‘Kashmir cause’. "Kashmir, everyone has to understand, is a political dispute and needs a political solution for the sustainable peace in the subcontinent," he added.
"We were out of business in 2008, than in 2010, and in 2014, now again from the last one month. Instead of protesting after every two years, we would prefer to keep it closed till some kind of solution is not in the offing," he says.
More than fifty people have been killed and thousands injured, during clashes between protesters and government forces, which also includes police and paramilitary forces. The rage on streets continues which brings new victims everyday of this seemingly never-ending strife. Sporadic clashes have been reported from almost every part of the valley, everyday.
However, this time around, even with the curfew in Kashmir extending for over a month, there is surprisingly no sign of fatigue among the Kashmiris. Throughout the day, streets remain deserted and the only moving objects on the streets are vehicles of paramilitary forces and that of the police. Silence, on the once overcrowded streets, is either broken by the thud of a bamboo stick in the hands of soldiers or by the siren of an ambulance.
"Full of empty political rhetoric, lacking substance to address the real issue concerning political aspiration of Kashmiris," columnist, Gowher Geelani wrote on his Facebook page. "Modi also invoked Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous words to end up saying nothing concrete how to address the Kashmir dispute politically," he added.
Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minster of the state, also took a dig at the PM saying that development alone wouldn’t solve the Kashmir issue. Reacting to a tweet by the PMO, Omar wrote: “Here in lies the crux of the problem – the unwillingness to accept that development doesn’t solve all problems.”
Congress state chief, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, while reacting to Modi's speech said killing of innocent people and imposing indefinite curfew is in no sense insaniyat and jamooriyat (humanity and democracy). He said that the people of Kashmir have not seen any ray of democracy and humanity on the ground as claimed by the BJP.
“It is better to implement the principles of democracy and humanity on ground than uttering the phrases in public rallies. Modi ji should have revealed the agenda of alliance by taking people of Kashmir in confidence but unfortunately the people of the state have again been deceived. Nothing is being done on ground to console the people. We can't even mourn for the slain youths,” he said.
Prime Minister Modi's speech is likely to have little impact on the ground. Every week a united front of the Hurriyat conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chairmen Mohammad Yasin Malik issue a protest calendar which is religiously followed through out the region these days, as if a parallel government was in place. And during the occasional relaxation hours people throng markets to shop.
“Why should we suffer every time and be in a situation like this, after every two years. Instead of turning a blind eye towards the situation on the ground the center government should immediately initiate a dialogue with Kashmiri leaders (separatists) and institutionalise it,” Mushtaq Ahmad, a shopkeeper in the city center of Lal Chowk, said on Tuesday evening, after opening his shop for briefly during the relaxation hours.
“The ill-informed Prime Minister is speaking on Kashmir like blind and deaf. Kashmir wants peace. The citizen of Kashmir wants to earn more money through tourism. It seems chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has conveyed to him situation of Gupkar Road only. If this is the only problem then why would whole population be on streets?” Journalist Fahad Shah, wrote on his Facebook.
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