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Mainstream, VOL LV No 29 New Delhi July 8, 2017

Discussing Kashmir and the ‘Way Forward’

Tuesday 11 July 2017, by Humra Quraishi


I try and avoid going for meets, seminars, conferences on the prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley and also the grim realities facing the Muslims in India. The ‘why’ to this is rather simplistic: everyone is well aware of the horrifying ground realities; yet the state seems determined to implement the set RSS agenda it’s been entrusted with... One gets to hear the same set of ‘experts’ who have nothing very offbeat to offer in terms of fighting the agenda or its implementation. With that in the background or foreground, I find attending these meets not just very frustrating but also rather pointless.

I made an exception to this when yesterday noon—July 4—I did decide to attend the round table hosted here in New Delhi by the Institute of Social Sciences. The ‘why’ to breaking the norm is again rather simplistic: for one, the two main organisers of this meet—George Mathew and Ash Narain Roy—are genuinely concerned about the deteriorating condition in the Valley. Also, politicians like Manish Tewari and Yashwant Sinha were scheduled to be present; so I thought one could get to hear the political perspective on the mess compounding as never before. And above all this, the invite carried a hazy ray of hope along the strain that there’d be focus on not just the present situation in Kashmir but also on the ‘way forward’. Yes, we are well aware of the political havoc taking place in the Valley, with military might accelerating each single day. Mind you, there could be an increase in this, with latest weapons and arms getting carted from Israel...what, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi carrying a huge shopping list! And in such a grim scenario, it’s the ‘way forward’ tucked in the invite which attracted attention; in fact, if the killings and murders taking place in the Valley are not halted immediately, it might be too late! You can have just a stretch of land with no Kashmiri left alive!

In fact, all the speakers sounded worried about the disasters taking place in the Valley. Vocal was each one of them. And Sumit Chakravartty and Tapan Bose didn’t mince words, talking of the communal agenda at work which could even include bifurcating or trifurcating the State of J&K into three segments along religious lines... they also spoke of the havoc the Intelligence agencies are doing, rather have been doing. In fact, Sumit Chakravartty also spoke of Afzal Guru—who had returned to the Valley, after getting disillusioned with Pakistan; yet he was entangled and used by the Intelligence agencies and then discarded, only to be hanged at the Tihar Jail, ‘to settle our collective consciousness’!

There were several journalists present at this round table, each one of them sounding worried and concerned about the build-ups, with Pankaj Pachauri, making a definite suggestion that it’s about time the Courts got to intervene. In fact, he was stark in his observations and said what many would hesitate to speak out so very openly—words along the strain, ‘this government is treating the Muslims in the country worse than dogs, as though all Muslims are militants or what... it doesn’t seem to give a damn whether Muslims get killed or ruined. For the last four months I couldn’t receive a single story from my Srinagar-based correspondent because there is no internet connectivity! Why are the Kashmiris getting denied access to any of the government schemes or facilities! Unemployment figures are going up in the Valley as more and more Kashmiris are going back from here because of the communal treatment meted out to them. I feel Kashmir is disintegrating because of the policies of this government... even the cause of the Kashmiri Pandits is in the hands of rabid communal elements like Anupam Khers.... It’s a hopeless situation. Let the Supreme Court of India intervene and ensure that the rule of law prevails...’

Though one was expecting the two politicians—Yashwant Sinha and Manish Tewari—to give their views or viewpoints on the way forward but both spoke briefly, as though still working out a strategy to reach out. In fact, I wonder what happened to the recommendations put forth by Yashwant Sinha. Remember, he had visited the Valley along with a small group of concerned citizens and had come up with a list of some very sound recommendations. If only they’d been implemented!

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