Kashmir: no more evasive tactics

By K.N. Pandita – PM’s Kashmir roundtables have proved disastrous. Known separatist and secessionist groups absented themselves from the Second Roundtable at Srinagar. Even the lone dissident PDLP led by Hashim Qureshi opted out. Significantly the BJP, too, abstained though for different reasons. Just 40 odd persons were left in the conference hall to listen to the rhetoric of the rulers of India who had come for a jamboree of summer holiday in the Paradise on Earth. In according them reception, 33 innocent Kashmiris had to fall to the bullets of the militants’ Kalashnikovs.

Isn’’t it a pitiable and a lamentable scenario? The PM has been slighted to the extent where every freedom loving Indian would hang his head in shame.

Who is responsible for drawing the country’s highest office to this debacle and disrepute? Obviously, the advisers of the PM, the mandarins and the intelligence sleuths who are either abysmally incompetent in Kashmir affairs or deliberately keep the PM misinformed.. Somebody should have the courage to call a spade by its proper name.

All these talks and roundtables are only antics to bid time, to wear out the separatists and dissidents, to give an impression to the world outside that New Delhi is addressing the Kashmir problem and thus drag the game of procrastination to its end. APHC (Mir Waiz) was right in saying that it is no use to indulge in procrastination exercise.

The strategy, whosoever is its originator, has not only failed miserably but has now begun to backfire. The blasts in Srinagar and the valley taking the life of over 33 innocent civilians and security men including a suicide attack on the Congress rally and bomb blasts around on the day when the PM was in Srinagar, are all indicators that the policy of procrastination has become counter productive. Dragging it further would clearly mean that Kashmir relapses into another orgy of innocent bloodshed.

New Delhi, and especially the PMO, should come out of the glass house built around it by incompetent politicians and mandarins and sycophants. There is no way out but to take the issues head on, talk objectively and decisively and lay your cards on the table. New Delhi must take the time by forelock failing which a big catastrophe could overtake the managers.

The ground reality is that Indian presence in the alley is not wanted by the majority of people in Kashmir valley. The groups that boycotted the second roundtable overtly ask for secession, and those who attended, too, ask the same but only covertly. Behind the scene, there is complete nexus and understanding between the two broad groups notwithstanding their apparent but superficial political tags.. That is the reality. Yet ironically a co- reality is that the groups attending the roundtable, sometimes called “allies” of the New Delhi, are continuing their hidden rivalry and struggle for assumption of power. That is the domestic agenda of Kashmir majority group political class.

Now the militants know that New Delhi is trying to fine tune its policy of “divide and rule” and the “allies”, coveting political power, are bound by the sensitivity of ground situation to play the double game as deftly as they can. According to them the ultimate purpose of the round tables is only to accelerate rivalry between the “allies” and then perpetuate its writ on the State. This is anther shade of classical dive and rule theory.

This is a very serious and grave situation. Ultimately it will recoil on New Delhi. Therefore New Delhi would be well advised to turn away from such a dangerous Machiavellian disposition and address the issue on the basis of finding a lasting solution.

In Kashmir, the land may be with the Indian forces, but the people are not. That is one harsh reality. Secondly, all Kashmiris to whatever group or ideology or logic they belong, do not want Indian presence in Kashmir. Some say it openly and others in wraps. There is a saying in Kashmir. Translated it runs like this: oh listener, if the speaker did not have the art of speaking you should have the art of understanding.

New Delhi is trying all the antics and rope walking to avoid this precise and core question. Therefore the separatists are paying back in the same coin. This stalemate will continue indefinitely and, of course, the acts of terrorism because that gives legitimacy to the persistent demand of the separatists. One can understand that India has logic to go along this line. After all armed militancy, howsoever dedicated and committed to suicidal attacks cannot beat the might of the state. But if that is the logic, it is absolutely wrong one for a democracy. The sooner it is corrected the better.

Let New Delhi understand that the PM’s two- day visit to Srinagar turned the town into a place under siege. Does it prove the claims of home and external ministries that the situation in Kashmir has improved? That is why we said in the beginning that the PMO is deliberately misinformed.

Before the situation worsens further, New Delhi must act in the right direction. The situation in Kashmir is fast deteriorating. The civil society is contemplating a civil disobedience and not just hartals and bandhs. There could be the non-cooperation movement, which will generate new hope and zest among the people. The lavish distribution of state largess to the police, intelligence and other cadres can collapse any time and all round chaos and confusion can overtake the administration. And this will be all home manufactured not borrowed one.

There is complete crisis of confidence on all sides. And New Delhi is at the centre of this farcical game. The sooner an end is put to this situation the better. New Delhi must tell Hurriyat in very clear words;” Friends the Indian State is not going to allow separation or secession, come what may. Therefore re-think your position and come back to us with your proposals. We have nothing more to say or to talk to you.” That is the message which the PMO should give out now.

At the same time, New Delhi has to be prepared to face the consequences such a thread bear message will stimulate. It could be an ugly situation which the Indian state cannot overlook.. But if the message leads to result – oriented one or two rounds of talks, well and good. If not, then the might of the state has to intervene. New Delhi must tell them frankly that Pakistan is an aggressor and the aggression has to be vacated in the light of 1994 parliamentary resolution.

But if the PMO has not the nerve (and we think it has not) then New Delhi must sit with the Hurriyat and other dissidents including the so-called “allies” meaning the pro-greater autonomy group, the pro-healing touch group, the pro-demilitarization and self – rule group and the pro-Islamism group, and strike a deal that is acceptable to them so that there is no further bloodshed of innocent Kashmiris who usually know how to die abut not how to live.

The piecemeal concessions like allowing the thousands of Kashmiri violators of law to return to Kashmir from PoK would be a right step provided it is complemented by grant of Homeland to the three hundred thousand people of the Kashmir religious minority banished from their birth place in 1990. The world will appreciate the great commitment of India to the principles of democracy and secularism. (The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, Srinagar).

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