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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 38 New Delhi September 10, 2016

BJP’s Simplistic Thinking likely to Complicate the Kashmir Issue

Friday 9 September 2016, by Sandeep Pandey


Even after a lot of criticism, the government continues to use pellet guns in J&K against protestors. The recent victims include an eight- year-old Junaid, whose lung has been ruptured, and Adil, who has been blinded. Thirty patients in a day, victims of pellet guns, clearly shows that the government is in no mood to relent.

This reflects the tenor of the statement by Arun Jaitley made in Samba of the Jammu region where he said that militancy and stone- pelting need to be dealt with firmly and no laxity should be shown in dealing with such a situation. Although Narendra Modi, at a meeting with Opposition leaders the next day in Delhi, said that he shared the pain of the Kashmiris. He said it was a matter of distress whether the lives lost were of our youth, security personnel or police. But the PM is now known to initiate damage-control when the situation worsens and starts affecting his political prospects. Rajnath Singh earlier said that instead of stones, bricks and firearms in the hands of Kashmiris he would like to see pen, computers and jobs. Both Rajanth and Jaitley have blamed Pakistan for fomenting the current trouble in Kashmir.

It is unbelievable that the BJP leaders hold such simplistic ideas about Kashmir. Their approach is only going to worsen the situation.

When Rajnath or Modi say they would like to see development in J&K, do they really think economic prosperity is the answer to the unrest in Kashmir? If economic well-being would have guaranteed happiness then the youth of Punjab would not have taken to drugs. Mental happiness is no less important than physical well-being for peace to return to the Valley. That can happen only when a political solution, which is agreeable to the Kashmiris, is arrived at. Most commentators say it will have to be some kind of autonomy.

Jaitley must be asked: why did the women and children pick up stones? Stone-pelting was the people’s answer to the use of force against them by the Indian Government. Jaitley must thank the people of Kashmir as most of them have shown restraint and not picked up guns. Only a small minority indulges in the kind of violence which can kill the security forces. It is a pity that while the security forces can easily save themselves from stones, or at least will not suffer fatal injuries, they have no qualms about using pellet guns against the people with serious consequences. No security personnel is getting killed, except for the two who died initially, in the present round of daily violence. Only the number of civilians getting killed is going up. Kashmiris are right in doubting whether they are considered equal citizens of India, when pellet guns are used only against their agitation and not elsewhere in the country. No sensitive government would use such inhuman methods against their own citizens. Israelis use it against Palestinians but then Israel doesn’t have the kind of relationship with Palestine which India claims to have with Kashmir.

The BJP seems to know only one way to deal with the problem—to remain tough. The curfew, already the longest in the history since J&K became part of India, has been there for more than a month-and-a-half now. Police have given up. People are directly facing the brunt of the military and para-military. Security forces, which are trained to face the enemy at the border, start treating people like enemies. It doesn’t look likely that security forces being present there in such large numbers will help create an atmosphere which can pave the way for normalcy to return. The BSF has been called out after 13 years which is not a good sign.

Modi has appealed for peace to return to the Valley so that dialogue could begin. Jaitley thinks that the stone-throwing protestors are the aggressors but in reality the security forces are the bigger aggressors given their power of ammunition. So, it is in the hands of the govern-ment to bring peace to the Valley. The govern-ment only cuts a sorry figure by blaming Pakistan for even the stone-pelting implying that Pakistan is able to influence proceedings in Kashmir while it has completely failed to have an impact.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has also referred to Pakistan as ‘hell’ to which a South Indian actress and former Congress MP has given a very rational reply. There are protests against her and an advocate has sought a sedition case to be filed against her. This has now become a trademark strategy of the Hindutva brigade. First a controversy is created. Then if questions are raised about this, the Hindutva brigade will take to the streets and create a scene. Nobody will question the original action. Only the reaction will be attacked. For example, there is noise about registering a case against Akhlaq’s family in Dadri but nothing is said about the people who killed him in the first place.

But commendably, Ramya has stood her ground. The irrational behaviour of the Sangh Parivar affiliates will have to be pointed out and questioned whatever the cost required to be paid. They are masquerading Hindu nationalism as the only form of nationalism, which is quite at variance from the idea of nationalism which our freedom fighters believed in. Actually, since the BJP has come to power there is a sheer display of hooliganism in the name of nationalism and it must not be tolerated. Communal harmony was an integral part of our nationalist legacy which is now sought to be dismissed in the name of minority appeasement. Ramya is right. People in Pakistan are just like us. People don’t hate each other. It is the governments which have created an atmosphere of enmity. Why should the people be dragged into it?

In Pakistan 48 per cent people enjoy the benefit of improved sanitation whereas the figure for India is merely 34 per cent. The proportion of underweight children in India is 43 per cent whereas in Pakistan it is merely 31 per cent. Hence for certain poor sections of the population Pakistan may not be so much of a ‘hell’.

Noted social activist and Magsaysay awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey was recently sacked this year from the IIT-BHU where he was a Visiting Professor on the charge of being a “Naxalite” engaging in “anti-national” activities. He was elected along with Prof Keshav Jadhav the Vice-President of the Socialist Party (India) at its founding conference at Hyderabad on May 28-29, 2011.

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