Kashmir is continuing to simmer with relentless unrest and bloodbath. It is over two months now and there seems to be no respite in sight. Pellets and bullets continue to rain, protests continue unabated. The count of dead and the injured is reaching the three-digit figure. In addition to adding PAVA and stun guns to armory, armed forces have adopted newer means of intimidations by way of destroying properties, nocturnal raids and arrest sprees.
During the political unrest period, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Kashmir thrice, last time with a band of Indian parliamentarians. Each time he took stock of the situation after meeting the people and those in knowledge of the situation, the minister expressed desire to talk to all concerned, assured action to restore order and flew back to New Delhi. As a follow-up to his visits he gave a traditional and compulsory dose of bashing Pakistan by blaming it for all the evils in the valley. Next day, as it seemed, he would forget what he had seen and said in the valley the previous day. He would forget that the valley needed some concrete steps to initiate a dialogue with a follow-up action. Few of his colleagues and BJP leaders keep on adding more venom to keep things going.
Back Home, Mehbooba Mufti seems to be relaxed now after getting assurances from New Delhi that everything is going to be all right at the end of the day. She has started attending the functions and festivities in and around Jammu to exhibit the feeling of well-being. However she does not forget to emphasize the need of holding a dialogue with all stakeholders including Pakistan, knowing fully that there are no takers.
Government of India has put across a clear message that it is not bothered to have any immediate or long term action plan for addressing the basic issues haunting the valley for decades. Some interest shown if any, is focused only on measures to restore order by baton in the wounded valley. Even in such cases they have not shown any urgency to pursue any plausible measures which could be visible on ground. Only visible and audible signs are directions to the government forces to exercise maximum restraint while handling the situations. However we have never been able to see the practical version of the directives. In fact, one is prompted to think if not this type of instructions conveys some hidden message. Because every time such direction came, invariably more casualties were recorded.
One more action direction issued to the forces is that of using pellet guns on the people in the rarest of rare occasions. However one wonders who will decide about the situation to be the rarest of rare. May be the forces themselves, the ultranationalist TV anchors or their adored pack of debaters? None of them are within any scope of challenge to their authority.
During the visit of the all party delegation, much hype was created of the fact that Geelani refused to meet few delegates who went to see him. Indian media got a choicest subject of castigating Geelani in particular and the Kashmiris in general for refusing to talk. It was projected as if the delegation had gone with the document of settlement of Kashmir issue which Geelani refused to sign.
GoI bagged a much desired excuse of being “unable” to take any initiative on Kashmir as the separatist had refused to get involved. But in the same breath it reiterated that few members of the delegation had tried to meet the leaders strictly in their personal capacity. The members themselves made it clear that they had nothing to offer except gesture of courtesy and concern. They had no mandate whatsoever and their visits were never endorsed by the Home Ministry, nor was it a part of the agenda of the APD. But their visit gained importance only when the separatists refused to meet them and GoI got a handy tool for dehumanizing separatists and declaring them as an obstacle in restoring peace.
The Home Minister bluntly distanced himself from the invitation to the separatists from the PDP president. It clearly meant that the delegation under the auspices of the Home Ministry did not have any set agenda for having a talk with the Huriyat leaders. Sita Ram Yechuri openly confessed that no home work had been done for the visit proving thereby the non seriousness of New Delhi to push any idea of peace process that could pave the way for further dialogue or negotiations which they have been tirelessly claiming to be interested in.
The state government has left the people to face the fate. Barring a few, we fail to feel the presence of any legislator or parliamentarians for whom people queued up for hours to send them where they are now. On the contrary we have seen frequent visits from the top brass of army including the BSF officers, CRPF and other forces active in the valley. Yes, we saw Haseeb Drabu saddened by Geelani’s refusal to meet few parliamentarians. The same person did not feel sad by the killings of so many youth and blinding of dozens of blooming buds across the valley.
Member parliament, Tariq Qarra, said in a newspaper interview that he was watching the situation keenly and would take his decision about his future of his own without any external compulsion or coercion. I wonder how much more he intends to watch before taking a decision.
Muzaffar Baig has advised Mehbooba to watch the alliance for another 6 months. He felt that the agenda was not being respected by the BJP. God knows how much more disrespect he intends her to digest to stay put in chair. Is his advice meant to give some more time to BJP for showing some concern for the agenda of alliance, or does he wants PDP and Mehbooba Mufti to take more time to develop a stronger power for digesting the impertinence and more insensitive conscience to absorb the disrespect?
Mehbooba Mufti has made us understand, rather reiterated to us that Chief Minister, or the state government here is nothing more than a subordinate staff. She has been unable to show even slightest speck of determination to take any confidence building initiative on her own, except for inviting the jailed separatists for talks, that too after 50 days of turmoil, the move openly disowned by the union home minister. She has blatantly opted to tow the line of BJP to castigate Pakistan, the separatist leaders and even the local youth. Stressing on the need to do things rather than actually doing something speaks volumes of her helplessness.
Amidst this lack of any serious or visible efforts to initiate a meaningful dialogue, people in Kashmir continues to be caged up, roughed up, get injured and blinded. Other than waiting for the weekly protest schedules, and count the dead and injured, they have nothing more to do. With India showing least concern for the miseries of the valley, rather inflicting more and more, coupled with state government’s inertia, Huriyat may have to find alternate ways to the unending hartals. It is important to express and put across the message of unflinching determination for finding a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem, but we may have to look for alternate options as well.
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