Not What Is Needed In Kashmir

Not that the people expected anything different from the home minister Rajnath Singh during his latest visit to the state, still his boilerplate statements on the state have only added to the gloom in Kashmir. Talking to media persons, Singh said the government was ready to talk to anyone including Pakistan on Kashmir but that the “talks and terror can’t go together”. Though the statement has been long in circulation and makes for a pithy, alliterative sentence, it does little to address the grim situation at hand. Besides, the talks are held to resolve an abnormal situation which in case of Kashmir is the lingering violence and turmoil over the past three decades. There would be no need to talk if there was no such violence in the state or if the violence itself ended. So, the home minister’s statement only puts the cart before the horse. And if this is going to be the centre’s permanent policy on outreach to anti-status quo groups in Kashmir, there is little hope that the talks will ever take place. The devastating results of this policy over the past more than four years are before our eyes. Kashmir has witnessed a regression towards the early nineties. Militancy has not only revived but grown from strength to strength. And currently, it is even witnessing a geographical expansion. The two encounters in Srinagar in just two weeks is a clear indication of the militancy having returned to Srinagar. And in recent past, there have been unmistakable signs of its revival in North Kashmir too.

There is no doubt that the Centre is at a crossroads on Kashmir. More of the same policy would produce more of the same outcome. Trying to wipe militancy out by trying to kill all militants has turned out to be a chimera. Militancy has only gotten stronger. Even number of militants hasn’t been dented. According to the new estimate, the latest number of militants is around 300, the same number that was there last year. This reveals the utter failure of the militaristic approach.

The home minister’s conditional offer for talks rings hollow even for the people of the state. And Hurriyat is unlikely to fall for it. The union government had better speak in unambiguous terms. That is, say it wants a dialogue. Say, it wants it for the resolution of political issue in Kashmir. It has to adopt a more humane approach. Supplant its rigidly ideological position on the state with an approach rooted in political realism.  That alone will make a redeeming difference. And that alone will help things to fall into place. At the fag end of its term, the NDA government would serve the country’s interests better if it revises its misguided policy on the state.


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