Tunnels are Neutral


There is no doubt that development by itself cannot resolve the Kashmir issue, but it is equally true that neither can development further complicate it. This is exactly why the joint Hurriyat’s decision to observe a daylong shut down against the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Jammu and Kashmir on April, 2, was something that didn’t make much political sense. On the contrary, it gave New Delhi an excellent opportunity to ‘hammer’ the Hurriyat as well as make snide remarks against separatist leaders.


To start with, the Hurriyat came out with a rather unusually longish statement to justify this shutdown. The reasoning offered by the separatist conglomerate included continuing atrocities in Kashmir, existence of ‘black laws’ and absence of accountability due to which government forces “enjoy impunity,” enforced disappearances, holding elections “amidst continuous bloodshed and under the shadow of the gun. In short, this time the Hurriyat has chosen to throw the book at Modi and why has it taken so much trouble to justify its shutdown call is intriguing.


However, justification for any action (including a shutdown call) comes from the relevance of specific issues and not by the abundance of charges. In any case, when the Hurriyat has been ensuring that shutdowns are observed on every occasion when it senses some wrongdoing and has even come out with a ‘protest calendar’ to ensure that irrespective of any specific reasons, protests are held as a matter of routine. So, where was the need to repeat these grievances (on which the Hurriyat has already drawn Modi’s attention many times through protests and shutdowns earlier) on an occasion when the sole purpose of Modi’s visit was to inaugurate the tunnel?


It is not that there wasn’t any mention of the tunnel in the Hurriyat’s statement. It talks of how “Rhetoric about development or construction of tunnels and roads is futile and won’t succeed to lure us.” The statement also mentions about how New Delhi has “made various efforts to lure people with construction works and development.” However, do these observations justify the shutdown ordered by the ‘joint’ Hurriyat? I’m sure that the separatist conglomerate itself wasn’t quite convinced with its own logic of ordering this shutdown and perhaps that’s why it chose to use the ‘broad spectrum’ approach to justify its action.


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