Where is the political responsibility in Kashmir?

Kashmir must get out of the whirlpool.  This can happen only when there is the will to do so. The swimming arts to get out of the flooding waters of uncertainty has to come from within as the situation demands. In the wake of October’s civilian killings, Kashmir has added yet another burden to its problems. This dilemma is about how they should rid themselves of this stigma without losing their own sense of security and the way forward.

There was enough condemnation by political leaders via statements, social media, and some of them visited families of the victims to make a personal expression of their grief.

That surely did not serve any purpose beyond a point.

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The political class in Kashmir – all parties included – owe an answer. What is their contribution in preventing these kinds of selective killings, or for that matter all the acts of terror?  There are no easy answers available with them for two reasons. One, they have an argument that they don’t have any power or something to tell the people as to why such things should not happen. They see the violence of this nature as a consequence of what is happening to masses, chained by the restrictions and curbs on their movement and expression. All this is being done in the name of curbing terrorism in Kashmir with the statistics reeled out to justify these actions.

That leaves political groups in a helpless position.

Second, their bigger problem stems from the fact that they don’t want to be partners in building peace, especially when they are feeling hurt and marginalized due to the constitutional changes effected on August 5, 2019. On that date, the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was abrogated and divided into two union territories. By making the government and security forces’ measures to enforce peace by the crackdown on militants and overground workers, they don’t want to justify Delhi’s claim that the things have improved because of the steps taken by the government of India, a little over two years ago. This is their political compulsion.  When they condemn the killings, they peddle their theories that nothing has changed with those constitutional changes. They see violence as a manifestation of the simmering anger over curbs with which they have to grapple with on a daily basis. 

At this moment, when they are caught in their own cobwebs, it is very difficult for them to chalk out a clear path for their own people. This is their failure.  They are hesitant in taking initiative out of fear that any such endeavour, on their part, would make them look like they are advancing Delhi’s agenda without getting anything concrete in return. This is a negative approach, but they justify it by saying that Delhi has done nothing to help them and the people of Kashmir. They had asked Delhi, at the time of the All-Party meet on June 24, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that the Centre should make a new beginning by initiating Confidence Building Measures – the release of political prisoners, halt random catch and arrest policy, easing of restrictions, and the creation of an atmosphere where democratic processes can grow and breathe.

There is no doubt that this is a formidable proposition. It can build confidence among the people and restore their credibility among the masses. But what they are overlooking is that they also have a responsibility toward their own people – to protect them and generate a narrative in which peace guides them into the future. They are viewing a situation in which Delhi’s approach of dealing with terrorism first by all means working to their advantage. That is a complete misreading of their own role as well as an absence of understanding that the end of terrorism would be the best thing to happen to them in the overall scenario.

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