Kashmir has completed more than 100 days of uprising. And except for some moderation in the intensity of the protests as a result of the heavy security crackdown, situation remains more or less the same. Hurriyat protest timetables continue to be issued and followed by the people. The security response has wrought havoc: More than 90 people are dead, several hundred have lost their eye-sight and around 15000 have been injured. In addition, the government has made hundreds of arrests, many of them minors and booked several hundred under Public Safety Act including the noted human rights activist like Khurram Parvez and the government employees. More than three hundred employees have been identified for being allegedly involved in the protests. Government has also terminated twelve employees, something that threatens to lead to an indefinite employee agitation. The president of the Employees Joint Action Committee Abdul Qayoom Wani has also been arrested and put under suspension.
But as the situation stands, this has made a little difference to the situation on the ground. Valley continues to observe shutdown on pro-freedom camp’s call. Markets open, reopen as directed by the Hurriyat calendar. The public transport has been off the roads. The cumulative economic loss has risen to more than Rs 15000 crore. But while all this has happened, the centre has shown least concern for the state of affairs. After a half-hearted attempt at a political engagement in the first weeks of the unrest, New Delhi has given up all pretence of any outreach. There has been no follow-up action on the visit of the All Party Delegation. Even the opposition leaders in the country has stopped raising Kashmir, after being snubbed by Hurriyat during their last visit. Fidayeen attack at Uri which killed 19 soldiers and its consequent fallout has further taken the attention away from the deteriorating situation in Valley. Similarly, except for some pro-forma statements emanating from the United Nations, America and OIC, the world has remained largely untroubled by the situation in Kashmir.
This has created a dead-end scenario. Pro-freedom camp, on their part, has once again exhibited little political imagination. They have failed to surprise and innovate their approach with time. More than three months after they are struggling to find an alternative to the protest rosters, a strategy that also failed in 2010 and ended up breaking the back of the economy. If anything, none of the parties involved in the conflict have gone through a learning curve. The discourses, policies and programs remain frozen, perhaps nowhere more so than in the pro-freedom camp which has singularly failed to adapt and situate itself in the new geo-political realities. Situation seems to be going on regardless, with none pausing to think where we are heading. But while New Delhi being the disproportionately powerful party can get away with its mistakes, not so the separatist groups. Onus is on them to act smarter than persist with a strategy that has started giving diminishing returns. There is now a desperate need to think through things and arrive at a more effective course of action.
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