Tragically, while the situation in the troubled state is worsening with every passing day with death toll of innocent people rising New Delhi continues to be in a state of drift unable to evolve the right approach to deal with the crisis of its own making. The events of past three months, with the people’s alienation turning into popular upsurge and rage, were too alarming to wake up the Rip Van Winkles in the corridors of power to act before the situation reaches the dead end. The acts of violence witnessed on the Eid day following the massive march sponsored by the separatist leaders should open the eyes of those in authority both at Srinagar and New Delhi that no half-hearted or cosmetic measures can help in retrieving the situation. It will be na‹ve to blame Mirwaiz Omar Farooq and Yasin Malik, who led the march and addressed the massive rally at Lal Chowk , for the acts of arson resorted to be some miscreants following the peaceful rally as the chief minister and his police chief are trying to do. There are certainly some vested interests who are trying to fish in the troubled waters of Jhelum to indulge in violence with the aim of subverting all moves for a political solution of the problem. These elements need to be identified, exposed and isolated. But it would be suicidal for those at the helm either to act against the separatist leaders or resort to repression to silence the voice of the people. The knee-jerk approach to deal with the deteriorating situation is bound to prove counter-productive.
While the Valley continues to bleed and burn, New Delhi has not even been able to make up its mind on the question of the popular demand for revoking the draconian Armed Forces Powers Act, withdrawal of armed forces from the civilian areas, release of political leaders and activists, stopping misuse of the Public Safety Act and credible probe into the killing of about 70 persons during the past three months. The UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh and the Congress led by Sonia Gandhi are still dithering on taking such measures, of course not any substitute for the solution but aimed at creating the necessary climate of trust for initiating a process of meaningful dialogue with the alienated people of the State for finding a realistic, lasting and democratic solution of the basic Kashmir problem. They are divided even on the question of taking the necessary confidence building measures for bridging the trust deficit.
Those in authority at the Centre need to understand the realities of the situation and read the writings on the walls and act before it is too late. No half-hearted measures like the partial lifting of AFSPA or the promise of any economic package are going to help. While measures suggested like the scrapping of AFSPA and PSA, release of all political prisoners and withdrawn of cases against them, restoration of the people’s right to protest and hold rallies, justice to the families of the deceased by appointing an independent commission to probe all the killings and the vacation of civilian space by the armed forces are the necessary measures for restoring the climate of trust, New Delhi has to take initiative for resuming credible and purposeful process of dialogue both with Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir to come out of the long dark tunnel. The tried and failed methods of divide and rule, by putting one section of the people against the other, or use of brute force to silence the people’s voice and urges are not going to help in bringing the situation to normalcy. A political and just solution of the problem, is necessary to bring back peace not only in the troubled state but also in the region. Such a solution must take into account the political aspirations of the people living in all the regions and areas of the state across the line of control. Both India and Pakistan should not only renew a structural composite dialogue to all the outstanding disputes including that of Kashmir but also take the people of the state on board while deciding about their future. They should facilitate an intra-J&K dialogue for evolving a consensus on the future of their troubled and divided land.