BJP Rule And Kashmir

As the BJP heads towards completing its term in the government at the centre, Kashmir is sinking more and more into despair and violence. And as the state looks forward to holding Municipal bodies and panchayat elections, the violence is only going to increase further. If anything, it only reflects how big a failure Kashmir has been for the union government. The state has certainly been a dark blot on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s record in the government. The situation in Kashmir has gone from bad to worse, threatening to deteriorate even further if no earnest ameliorative measures are taken to address the long festering issues underpinning the ongoing turmoil.

The truth of the matter is that in more than four years of the Modi-led government there is very little that has changed in Kashmir. The Valley remains in a time warp, struggling to get rid of the lingering bitter conflict that has plagued the state since India and Pakistan won their freedom from the imperial yoke and Kashmir got divided between the two newly created nations and became a bone of contention. Ever since while the two countries have gone on with their respective destinies, Kashmiris have remained hopelessly mired in the conflict.   Thousands of lives have been lost. The lives of the living have been turned upside down. And there is no foreseeable hope that the situation will improve in future. As the things stand, Kashmir is going to be stuck in this quagmire for the years and the decades ahead.  

In the three years it has been in power the NDA government at the centre has refused to politically engage Kashmir. It has acted against dissident groups like Hurriyat.  The centre’s only response to the situation has been the use of more force.  After the occasional and half-hearted attempts at a political engagement, New Delhi has given up all pretence of any outreach. No political engagement has been initiated with the representatives of the Azadi sentiment.  For the BJP, the priority has been the successive elections in different states of India. Similarly, the engagement with Pakistan is unlikely to restore anytime soon. This has created a fraught situation which can take a dangerous turn if no efforts are made to address and engage with it.

The Valley has been dogged by one more overriding fear: The BJP’s absolute control over India empowers the party to execute its longstanding ideological agenda in Kashmir, one of them the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A.  Kashmir’s anxieties are profound. One of the fundamental factors that had persuaded the people to join the Hindu India in 1947 was its secular and pluralist credentials as against the Muslim Pakistan built on theological foundations.  And as BJP’s monochromatic national vision takes the centre stage, the people in Kashmir can’t help but feel a deep sense of betrayal. What Kashmiris as also the minorities and liberal sections in India desperately want is for India to reclaim its secular moorings and focus its attention on the resolution of issues in Kashmir rather than singularly go about using the force to put down ongoing revolt in the state.

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