Singh’s visit disappoints

A fortnight after Kashmir plunged into turmoil following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, leading to death of almost 50 people and injuries to several thousand, the home minister Rajnath Singh visited the state for two days. During his stay, Singh met the Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti  and some civil society delegations. Singh also visited Anantnag. However, the well-known trading and civil society organizations refused to meet the home minister, arguing similar meetings in the past have achieved nothing. The government had to fly in the President of Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry to Srinagar for the meeting with home minister. Besides, a delegation of "Imams" has also had an interaction with Singh. And later at the press conference Singh stuck to a status-quoesque line on the situation, announcing no new measures to make a redeeming difference. Just   saying that the government will take all  the necessary step to normalize the situation. He made some right noises though,  like calling for strengthening the emotional bond between New Delhi and  Kashmir but all of these lacked any substantive  policy announcement.  Unlike 2010, the union government has so far indulged in no pretence of an outreach to the people of the state. New Delhi is in no mood to re-run the rehearsed gamut of sending an all–party delegation or appointing new pointsmen on the state. And Singh also dropped no such indications. One positive announcement was the formation of an expert committee  which will review the use of the pellet guns in the state. However, the decision to set up the committee was taken before Singh's visit to the state. So there was nothing new in what Singh had to say. This is sad considering there is a desperate need for a political initiative from the centre to address the ongoing turmoil in the state.  But this is something that doesn't appear to be the case. For now, the government is only banking on the security response to the situation which will again address the situation temporarily. One can hope that among the all necessary steps  promised by the home minister, one is about finding a long term political solution to the troubles of the state. Nothing else will matter.

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