What next after Ramadhan ceasefire
Hope some concrete moves are taken to let things change for better
May 31 2018
At least there has been a break in the cycle of violence and nearly daily loss of lives in the plains of valley following the ‘Ramdhan ceasefire’, unilaterally declared by Indian government. Though in areas close to LoC and international border mortar shelling has continued, causing death and damage of property and closure of schools. One hopes better sense will prevail and the spirit of settling disputes through peaceful means will win over jingoist attitude. As warned by former US President, Bill Clinton years before, the borders between India and Pakistan are ‘most dangerous places in the world’, the situation will take a dangerous spin any moment, more so when both countries have nuclear weapons.
In its editorial, a week before, New York Times has suggested tripartite dialogue involving, India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir, while urging the United States to channelize its efforts to end the Kashmir dispute. This shows despite stone walling the events and blocking the accessibility of various groups in the troubled region, Kashmir is drawing concern at important forums. It also makes it emphatically clear that irrespective of the two countries’ respective stated position regarding Kashmir, the people of Kashmir cannot be ignored. The editorial also mentions that despite launching ‘Operation All Out’, last year, the youth joining militancy witnessed upward graph, which the prestigious Daily thinks is also the reason behind halting anti-militancy operations in Kashmir. That muscular approach of forcing capitulation is counter productive, the NYT warns : ‘ Heavy-handed tactics may hold territory, but they lose the population’.
Whatever the reason behind the Ramdhan ceasefire decision, what is needed is ceasefire must be extended beyond the month of fasting, followed with a slew of concrete measures commensurate to the essential requirement of starting a result-oriented dialogue process with all stake-holders within and outside. For a change to appear visible and sincerely serious, the first thing the authorities must do is to provide political space for the opposite camp. The ‘battle of ideas’ has to be fought not with bullets, pellets, jails and detentions but with the ammunition of counter argument, logic and patience. That calls for avoiding reckless use of PSA, which has made mockery of the freedom of expression and judicial scrutiny.
The unabated obsession of shifting detainees/ prisoners to jails outside their localities in Jammu and outside state defies any logic other than signifying attestation of arrogance and vengeful attitude on part of the authorities. Recently a report published in local media mentioned how Shabir Ahmad Shah’s wife (a doctor) and elder daughter have been allowed to meet him just for fifteen minutes in his 6 by 8 feet cell after a five-hour tormenting wait outside the Tihar jail in Delhi. The report added that on seeing her father Shah’s daughter ‘ fell on the ground’ and regained her composure with difficulty. Shah is veteran political leader and acknowledged as ‘prisoner of conscience’. We can imagine the hardships of the families that have to travel from distant places to meet their dear ones in alien rather hostile atmospherics. Beyond deriving sadistic pleasure, one cannot decipher any other motive behind it. Especially when there is a Supreme Court ruling that directs authorities to keep jail inmates in jails located close to their homes so that their kith and kin were able to meet them. Alas the directive of the apex court continues to be violated with impunity. It is not just one individual you punish, entire circle of close relatives and friends are collectively punished in executing this senseless policy. This maniac tendency needs to be given up in earnest, followed by ordering release of all the political prisoners and youth.
There is a pressing need in allowing people to freely and peacefully outpour their feelings and resistance leadership not be denied political pace. The decades of suffocation has forced youth to resort to extreme means of venting their rage. The arrogance of banking on iron-fist approach to force a solution of status quo has met a failure as surge in militancy and people’s unprecedented support for the militants –even making bids to save them at encounter site risking their own lives—do betray. Democratic outlets choked nourishes extremism. So answer to extremism is allowing catharsis through democratic appeal.
The political leadership of all hues in Delhi, instead of raising eye-brows on people’s right to peaceful assembly, should encourage such activities with smiling face. They should not get panicked when in pursuit of their democratic rights people in large number surge the streets. Rather such activism –which is the soul of democratic dissent— not only matches with democratic idea India is so proud of, it is bound to create a positive atmosphere in India, as people there will get a real picture of events happening in Kashmir, provided corporate media shows commitment to transparency and professionalism. The filtration of truth if allowed to pass through heavy iron curtains will remove, I am sure, all misconceptions regarding Kashmir dispute. That kind of glasnost (openness) will facilitate rulers in Delhi to address festering sore of Kashmir in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiris. For last many decades too much foot prints of troops in Kashmir has been the only face of India. The claims of ‘sovereignty of people’ and democratic pledges have been put on hold. This, as we all are witness to, has complicated the issue. India has to open up in all sincerity not for conflict management but conflict resolution.