Since the outbreak of the armed insurgency in Kashmir in 1990, separatists and militant outfits used to call for a shutdown on January 26 every year and by dint of guns they used to enforce their writ. But after August 5, 2019—when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories—situation in Kashmir has changed for the good.
Shops that were run by the separatists stand closed and the ones who used to preach sedition have lost their addresses. The time has proved that the decision of the BJP led Central Government was a bold one and it has hit the nail on its head. It’s after a longtime that people in Kashmir celebrated Republic Day without any fear and threats.
The henchmen of separatists, who used to foment trouble, have opted for other jobs as the noose around their bosses stands tightened.
The National Investigating Agency played a pivotal role in breaking the back of the separatists by carrying out a major crackdown on the Hawala channels from where they used to get the money to keep the pot boiling. Blocking Hawala channels has left the orchestrators of street violence and shutdowns bankrupt. Ones who used to be on the forefront of preaching and enforcing anti-national agenda have changed their profession, and are trying to make their ends meet by doing menial jobs as they are finding it hard to survive. The easy money they used to get has stopped flowing.
The mainstream Kashmiri politicians—who used to claim that no one will be left in the Valley to hold the national flag if Article 370 is scrapped—too have been left red faced. Their predictions have proved to be incorrect and they are looking for ways and means to keep themselves relevant in “New India” and “Naya Jammu and Kashmir.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led from the front and has shown the way to the nation. What his predecessors couldn’t do for the past seven decades he did it within 6-years. Today J&K stands completely integrated with the Union of India. People of the erstwhile state have endorsed PM Modi’s decision and have stood with him. The events that followed the abrogation of J&K’s special status have proved it beyond doubt that people of Kashmir were fed up with mindless violence and the so called “burning issues” that were raised by the separatists and even by a few mainstream leaders.
The culture of disrupting normal life on one or other pretext that prevailed in Kashmir from 1990 to 2019 has ended. The handful of people who used to project every Kashmiri as a separatist and a hate monger stand isolated. Ones who used to stage dramas are cooling their heels in jails and a few others who have not been imprisoned have turned mute. Ones who are still out are aware of the fact that if they try to indulge in any sort of misadventure they will end up in a big mess.
Tourists thronging Kashmir in droves to celebrate Christmas and New Year have infused a new life in the ailing tourism industry of the Valley. Stakeholders are optimistic about Kashmir witnessing a bumper tourism season this year as advance bookings are already on. The change is visible in Kashmir. Fear is disappearing fast. People seem no longer interested in the politics that they witnessed during the past three decades. They just want to live their lives peacefully and become a part of progress, prosperity and development that the country is witnessing.
Narendra Modi led Central Government by biting the bullet has dispelled the notion that Kashmir was a problem. It has driven home a point that the previous regimes were unable to handle Kashmir and allowed the separatists to become larger than their size. Former rulers treated separatists like VIPs and spent crores on providing security to them, and facilitated their visits to the foreign countries.
The present regime has shifted its focus from the so-called leaders of Kashmir to the common people and results are evident. A common man is reaping the benefits of his empowerment and celebrated the Republic Day in 2021 without any strike calls and blackouts. The new dawn has broken out and a lot of things are set to change in the coming days.
Manoj Gupta is Editor- Security Affairs, CNN News18