Winning the DDC polls by the Gupkar grouping will certainly prove that the majority of the people in J&K are against the revocation of Article 370. But the big question is whether the DDCs once they are formed will be able and willing to assert this fact – administratively if not politically
The narrative war is likely to be scaled up going forward. With separatist outfits almost defunct as a result of the detention of their major leaders over the last year and all means and media of getting their message across to people closed off, the public space has, for once, been opened for a free play to a national narrative.
Fifteen months later, as Kashmir anxiously looks forward to future, businesses are tentatively re-opening and public transport is returning to roads following eleven months of siege, five months of them spent under Covid lockdown. Does it mean normalcy?
A broad regional cooperation on the issue of rights of J&K will afford more space for political activity to the leaders in Kashmir. Such an alliance will also require influential local leaders to represent it in Jammu and Ladakh.
One thing that this government would not do is to embark on a meaningful political engagement to address the issues underlying the long-running conflict in the Valley. A permanent solution only lies therein.
One option for mainstream political groups would be to mount a sustained public resistance against the erasure of special status. But there are valid doubts about the scope for such resistance at a time when the Centre has squeezed the space for any democratic dissent.
One can also ask what is stopping the centre from making necessary modifications in the law that makes the security personnel who commit human rights violations accountable for their actions. Such actions cannot be left entirely to the discretion of the Army.
For the BJP acting tough with Kashmir wins it more popular support. And in the remaining four years of its power the party thus seems set to take its project to remake Kashmir in its own image to its logical conclusion.
Revocation of Article 370 and subsequent constitutional measures have served to dilute the political centrality of the Muslim majority Kashmir Valley. Power, both at a political and a psychological level, has shifted to minorities in the newly created union territories – Hindus of Jammu in J&K and Buddhists of Leh in Ladakh.
The uncertain and interrupted schooling deprives Kashmiri youth proper education and skills. The lack of employment opportunities denies them a future. And the lingering conflict over the region frames their worldview and determines their lives and choices.