MHA Report: Troubling Recommendations

In 2010 following the five month long unrest, the Ministry of Home Affairs had secretly commissioned a report focussed on the priorities and aspirations of Kashmir’s new generation which was spearheading the long spell of unrest, and found that 54 per cent of them identified “Azadi” as their preferred “final status of J-K”. However, the study which was the first of its kind in J&K, said that on further exploration the picture becomes more nuanced. For 56 per cent of these youth ‘Azadi’ was about Kashmiris’ Rights—political, civil and economic. Others whose idea of ‘Azadi’ centered  around the notion of a “territorially separate Kashmir” included eight per cent envisaging a sovereign and independent state of Jammu & Kashmir; 11 per cent wanted “freedom from India” and, 10 per cent who said ‘Azadi’ meant “a separate Kashmir  without furnishing any further details.

Cut to 2017 and yet another study has been commissioned by the MHA. And this report is more into suggesting  measures  to tackle the extraordinary situation spawned by the  runaway groundswell  following the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8.  The report has recommended  the “control” of the mosques, madrasas, print and electronic media, changes in political atmosphere, strengthening of intelligence set-up and reaching out to the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference. The report which has been compiled after securing inputs from ground, suggests long-term “actionable points” and has been sent to National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, a national newspaper reported.

The report is unlikely to amuse a predominant majority of the people in the state, more so in Valley on which it is largely focussed. If the last report was blamed for  many flawed conclusions about the situation in Kashmir, the current report has shocked people for the kind of measures being suggested to tackle the situation. More outrageously, the report suggests the resurrection of the Special Operation Group of Kashmir Police which was disbanded by PDP-Congress coalition in 2002.  In its decade long reign of terror, SOG was responsible for many a human rights excess in the state which made its existence politically costly for a democratically elected party. Now a decade later, the union government wants to revert  to it to control the resurgence of militancy in the state.    The premises that apparently underpin this atavism is that SOG would be helpful in tackling the new militant challenge in Valley and also curb the overwhelming pro-militancy sentiment.  The fact is that the force  did none of the two things when it was operational.  There was no decline in militancy nor did it in any way subdue the pro-Azadi sentiment. Going by the casualty figures for the militants, security personnel and civilians for the time, it was the highest. In fact, the year 2000 was one of the most violent years in the continuing three decade long turmoil in the state.    And if there was any decline in the militancy, it was after 2002. Why? There is a combination of factors which was responsible for it, the most critical of which was the then ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan. And yes, the reigning in of the SOG was too a factor. For this  ushered in a long absent sense  of security.  Now, ironically, the government wants to reverse this process by bringing in SOG back. If anything is urgently needed to address today’s Kashmir situation, it is to return to the processes and policies that had underpinned the relative calm through 2005-08.

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