Elusive Peace

RECENT data on militancy in the Valley shows that around 27 militants have been killed in 11 encounters in the last 25 days. The number is huge. However, it is not the first time that the security forces have killed a large number of militants in a short span of time. Last year more than 200 militants were killed. But this didn’t mean the end of militancy in the Valley. The reason for this is that the depleted numbers continue to be made up by more youth taking up arms and, in turn ending up getting killed. This cycle has been going on for the past three decades. And it seems unlikely that this would end anytime soon.

There's thus little hope of peace in the near to medium future. This hasn't happened over the past thirty years. And nor, if this long duration is any guide, would it in future. The militancy and the state’s response to it will go on. True, the state tackles the unfolding violence institutionally, so will not tire of it, but this unrelenting state of affairs is taking a disastrous toll on the people of the union territory, our new and the future generation. The most rational and effective response to the lingering turmoil is to address the factors which keep it going. But this is something that is and has been last on the minds of the ruling leadership of this country.

This too at a time when the administration has long given up even the pretence of a soft approach towards the ongoing situation. If anything is going to make a redeeming difference, it is an empathetic understanding of the anger and sentiment sweeping the Valley and a meaningful political engagement to address it. Much like what the union government had started doing with Pakistan during early months of this year. A peace process that leads to some kind of an understanding between the two neighbours on Kashmir would be game-changing for the situation in the union territory.

But the chances of this happening remain bleak as always. Following the revocation of Article 370 that granted J&K its autonomous status under the constitution, the relationship between India and Pakistan has nosedived. The two countries have developed even more irreconcilable differences in their respective positions about J&K. Though, the rea-affirmation of 2003 ceasefire had created a hope, the two neighbours seem to have drifted apart since then. Much would depend on how they deal with their current frostiness and get back to dialogue.

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