'Security Agencies Dictate Delhi’s Kashmir Policy'

Jairam Ramesh: Need To Change Status Quo Approach, BJP’s Chest-Thumping Nationalism Won’t Work For JK

SRINAGAR: In an explosive admission for a high government figure, union minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday said that New Delhi’s Kashmir policy was totally controlled and dictated by security and intelligence agencies, and stressed that India needed to change its strategy of status quo.

The scathing critique of the centre’s approach to the Himalayan region, unprecedented for a serving union minister, came at the end of Ramesh’s two day visit to the Valley.

“The centre is not sensitive to the sentiments of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but makes its presence felt through the army and the CRPF,” the minister, who holds the rural development portfolio in the union cabinet, told the press.

“Instead of a strategy influenced by security and intelligence agencies, a correct political and dialogue process is needed for the state,” he said.   

“The centre’s security-centric policy is not correct. The state needs sound politics and development, not intelligence agencies,” he said. “They cannot dictate our Kashmir policy.”

Ramesh held New Delhi’s flawed approach responsible for what he termed as a “political vacuum” in the state, particularly the Valley, saying that militancy and separatism had grown in this void.

“The situation in Kashmir is steadily changing, and New Delhi too needs to change its thinking and mind set,” he said.

“India must respect the culture and civilisation of Kashmiris, and open its hearts to them. Unless we do so, the grievances of Kashmiris will not be addressed,” he said.

Advocating for New Delhi to overhaul its Kashmir policy, he said that all issues concerning Kashmiris should be addressed.

“Successive central governments have so far adopted status quoist and static positions on Kashmir,” he said. “This needs to be changed drastically.”

“Kashmiris working or studying in cities outside the state face suspicion and humiliation. Instead, India should open its hearts to them, and respect their ethos,” he said.

“The central government should be visible in Kashmir through developmental activities, not through the army and the CRPF,” he said.

ON BJP AND KASHMIR

The union minister was also unsparing of the BJP’s “extreme nationalistic” postion on Kashmir.

“The BJP’s more-loyal-than-the-king approach to Kashmir will further damage the bonds between the state and New Delhi,” he said.

“Its BJP’s version of chest-thumping nationalism will not work here. This will further alienate Kashmiris from the mainstream,” he said.

“If this party comes to power at the centre, it will have a disastrous impact on Kashmir,” he said.

“The high turnout in panchayat elections and large tourist influx indicate that the situation in the Valley is conducive for large-scale developmental activities,” he said.

Strongly defending Jammu and Kashmir’s special position under Article 370, Ramesh said that Kashmiris were interested in joining the mainstream, but the process depended on what response other parts of the country showed.

“Kashmiris are willing to join the mainstream, but is the mainstream ready to welcome them,” he said.

“Pro-Azadi and pro-Pakistan sentiments are not so high in the Valley because people here are fully aware of the turmoil in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and are fully aware that separation from India is not an attractive option,” he said.

“Narrow-mindedness has damaged the prospects of brining people in the North-East into the mainstream,” he said. “They too want to join the mainstream, but we call them Chinki.”     

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