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

GOI’s Insincerity in Solving the Basics of Kashmir Crisis

Friday 9 September 2016, by Humra Quraishi


After reading my recent comments in the context of those hitting photographs of the four- year-old Syrian child, Omran Daqneesh, injured during the latest round of bombardments in Syria’s Aleppo, my Kashmiri friends said: ”Today there are hundreds of Omran Daqneeshs in our midst. Our Kashmiri children have been physically and emotionally wounded in this ongoing violence in the Valley, yet the govern-ment is only doing politics. No solutions, no end to this crisis. All that seems to have emerged after weeks of clampdown is that pellet guns could possibly get replaced by some other guns!”

Why should guns be used on an unarmed civilian population? Prefix any word of your choice—pellet or pepper or powder—but guns are guns! Also, can the fragile human being take the strain of this lethal combination—guns, curfew, crackdowns, arrests and detentions, rationed supplies of food and medicines and, to cap it all, dents in the very connectivity.

The situation in the Valley continues to be grim. Eid is barely a fortnight away but will the Valley be in a positon to observe even the basics of this ‘festival of sacrifice’, in an atmosphere riddled with fear and uncertainty, not to overlook the killings and devastation? What celebrations, cry out the Kashmiris, when there is nothing to look forward to in this state of siege! Soldiers all around, new bunkers erected around residential colonies and school premises!

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been giving statements but not a single sentence reaching out to the aggrieved citizens who had been hoping that some level of declarations come up to indicate that a political process would start off. She seems in no mood to accept the core issue—that is, the Kashmiris are indeed angry and want no “toffees” and nor “milk” but a political settlement or at least concrete indications that a political process would be underway.

Kashmiris do not want to hear about the happenings in Balochistan or in PoK. In fact, contrary to the hyped propaganda the reality is this: Kashmiris do not want any level of merger with Pakistan, “We want nothing to do with Islamabad or with New Delhi! We just want our azaadi so that we can live with dignity on our land and not in this state of siege.”

A political way out has to be found to ease the situation. As a retired civil servant, who had earlier worked as an advisor to a former Governor of J&K, told me: ”Some level of concessions or flexible autonomy will have to be worked out, otherwise the situation cannot be brought under control. This time the Kashmiris’ anger cannot be contained by mere promises or assurances or announcements of delegations visiting the Valley. Too late for diplomatic moves. Too many killed and injured, too much alienation.”

Veterans lament that if the Government of India had been somewhat farsighted and with that taken care to reach out to the Kashmiris with the best possible democratic framework—which would have included freedom to speak out without fear of the aftermath and to live without the overpowering presence of the security forces —then anger-cum-alienation of this magnitude wouldn’t have engulfed the Valley.

And to know how earnest or sincere is the government in trying to solve the basics to the crisis, one has to read this recent statement by the editor of The Milli Gazette, Zafarul Islam Khan. I quote him—“... a meeting of some ‘eminent Indian Muslims’ was held with the Home Minister on August 21 in which I too was invited. Friends in the Valley and beyond have objected to my participation while the current government has no agenda to solve the Kashmir problem. My answer to all was that if my participation can in any way help the resolution of this intricate problem, I am ready to meet anyone and sacrifice anything. A delegation of some Muslim personalities to go to the Valley is being planned. I will not be part of it for two reasons: there are no indications that the government is serious about tackling the issue, and I cannot accept government largesse and facilities to do such a work. Here is the message I sent to the coordinator of this group, Dr M.J. Khan, which sums up the discussions and my perspective and readiness to sacrifice for a lasting peace in the subcontinent, which cannot be achieved without untying the Kashmir knot: ‘It was clear during our interaction with the HM that he is not ready for any confidence-building measures as of now: no readiness to bring the injured youth right away from the Valley, no readiness to immediately stop pellet guns, no readiness to announce compensations right away. No talk of lifting AFPSA from the unaffected areas like north Kashmir and moving the Army away from the inhabited areas. Instead, more troops are being airlifted to the Valley. No readiness to talk to the Hurriyat or Pakistan for a final solution of this festering wound. Hence, personally I do not see any usefulness of visiting Kashmir. In any case, it should be an independent initiative, not one sponsored and paid for by the Home Ministry. By accepting such help, we lose credibility. Personally, I have overnight lost my credibility in the Valley which was built over three decades. Despite this, I am ready to lead an independent initiative if there are people ready to listen and work for a final solution on the lines of or close to the failed Agra agreement. A Nobel Prize is waiting for Modi if he can rise to the occasion. If not, such eruptions will keep happening every few years sapping our energies and defaming us in the eyes of the world.’”

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