Uncertain Times

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Monday’s grenade attack at Maharaj Bazar led to the death of one person and injuries to around thirty people. If anything, it once again shows that far from advancing towards normalcy as the government claims, the situation in the Valley is only deteriorating. The intermittent grenade attacks over the past some days have followed killings of non-local labourers in parts of South Kashmir. True, the turmoil in the Valley has not been of the scale of 2016, but the prevailing calm is beguiling in nature. On its face, it doesn’t appear to be of a lasting kind. This is apparent from the continuing shutdown despite passing of more than three months since the scrapping of Article 370.

An ordinary day in Valley goes like this:  Businesses are completely shutdown. Shops open briefly in the morning and after 5 in the evening but even this window is more often than not disrupted due to continuing uncertainty. Sometimes even brief opening of the businesses is seen by some as damaging to the cause of the current protest.  Similarly, schools are closed.  Prepaid  phone, sms and internet services remain snapped. So far, government has given no indication it is restoring them in  near future.

Unless, some meaningful political measures are initiated, the current turmoil looks set to drag on with chances of a bigger tragedy looming on the horizon.  But so far, neither the state government nor  New Delhi have stepped up to the occasion, still believing that the situation would wind down to a state of normalcy once the fatigue sets in and the economic hardships due to hartals start to bite.

This mindset and the approach has only tipped Valley deeper into the turmoil, with more and more youth seemingly looking at the extreme options as the only way to push the progress on the resolution of issues in Kashmir.  There is still time for the central government to look at the deteriorating situation in Valley outside the ideological straitjacket and take urgent political measures that seek to address the issues underlying the current strife.

To start with, New Delhi can take steps to release the detained leaders. It is really important at a time when the leaderlessness of the ongoing protest is becoming a part of the problem rather than the solution. In the absence of a leadership, it is not possible to steer the current uncertainty in Kashmir towards some kind of a dignified conclusion. As of now, situation in the Valley is going on regardless. And it can continue as such if the government does not do anything to address it.

 


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