Days after J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik created a buzz by signalling that Hurriyat was ready for dialogue, BJP national vice-president and J&K in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna has insisted that the talks will have to be held within the ambit of Constitution of India. As it is, the noises like these are hardly helpful for the engagement. This will make it difficult for Hurriyat to come on board. So, it is important that both sides talk without conditions as was done during the period of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, something all BJP leaders never tire of harking back. Vajpayee had opened up possibilities for progress in the resolution of the Kashmir issue where none existed. He talked of Kashmir settlement within the framework of Insaniyat. The word had the immediate effect of altering the frame of reference for Kashmir at the time, obviating the need for the parties to conform to the confines of Indian constitution in search of a way out. Insaniyat came handy at the time. It was deployed as a rhetorical device to ensure that Hurriyats reservations about the talks being held within the ambit of Indian constitution didnt prevent the then highly sought after dialogue with the separatist grouping. But the current BJP seems to lack its predecessor’s imagination.
It is also true, situation in early 2000 was different. New Delhi didnt mind humouring Hurriyat, if only because through the nineties up until the turn of millennium, Hurriyat held a political monopoly in Kashmir. And the centre unsuccessfully wooed the grouping for talks to exercise some form of grip on the runaway state of affairs in the state. But Hurriyat wouldnt settle for any engagement less than a trilateral dialogue between India, Pakistan and the amalgam. The situation in Kashmir has since gone through a profound transformation. Hurriyat is now more or less on the margins of Kashmirs political landscape. And New Delhi doesn’t care much about Hurriyat now. It doesn’t also set much store by the dialogue and engagement.
The only way the BJP in its new avatar has so far chosen to deal with the situation is through a disproportionate use of force. But this, in no way, has ushered in normalcy even though it might have moderated the intensity of the turmoil and managed to create a forced semblance of normalcy. The force alone as the past five years have validated, will make no difference to the political underpinnings of the current situation. Least that the government is expected to do is to try a meaningful approach to Kashmir, something that makes a redeeming difference to the situation. And this would not be possible unless Government seeks to address the issues underpinning the conflict in and over the state. And one way it can be done is to politically engage Hurriyat and subsequently take it forward by holding a dialogue with Pakistan.