The Vajpayee mission

He symbolised hope, peace and prosperity

Vajpayee is no more. The eminent leader and poet will be remembered for leading the government that put India on the world map as a nuclear power. His legacy of Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat, Jamhuriyat will guide us for peace, prosperity and reconciliation towards the Kashmir. Rest in Peace!

During his tenure as Prime Minister of India, he boldly took several steps to normalise the relationships with Pakistan. Our Party Patron Late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed always seeks to support and strengthen the approach and initiatives taken by the government to create a reconciliatory environment and build stakes for all in the peace and development within the sub-continent.

Several confidence building measures were taken. Enhancing people to people contact on both sides of the LoC; encouraging civil society exchanges, taking travel, commerce, trade and business across the LoC to the next level and opening new routes across all three regions to enhancing connectivity.

The NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had initiated a dialogue process with all political groups, including the Hurriyat Conference, in the spirit of “Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat aur Jamhooriyat”.

It facilitated and helped to initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders, which included all political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections. The dialogue seeks to build a broad based consensus on resolution of all outstanding issues of J&K. 

It holds true that the young people in Kashmir are socially and politically aware, and present an important prospective to build a critical mass of young change leaders. The risks and the challenges that the Kashmiri youth faces today and continued marginalisation emphasize the vital and obligatory need to support reconciliation, dialogue on Vajpayee’s pattern and safe spaces for youth.

Youth of Kashmir need space. Space to talk, to vent out their anger. A platform where they could share their sentiments. These spaces should promote exchange between those with different experiences and opinions about issues of common concern; to understand the aspirations of youth and their vision for the future.

I have been time and again saying that the Kashmir’s political conundrum is largely divided into two major ideological orientations — the Kashmir issue and the issues of Kashmir. Mainstream politics has largely remained confined to governance delivery-politics while separatism has become a conviction-based discourse. The idealism associated with it triggers street rage and emotional fortitude which in turn earns it legitimacy while simultaneously delegitimizing the pro-Indian polity in Kashmir.

Dialogue on various issues including relations with Pakistan, talks with Hurriyat, youth engagement plans should be supported on patterns of Atal Bihari Vajpayee for larger peace and prosperity in the sub continent.

If we look at the official data it shows how youth are getting engaged into radical means. In the year, 2015, 66 youth joined the militant ranks where as the number stepped and 90 youngsters joined militant ranks in the year 2016. During the year 2017, 130 youngsters joined the militancy and during the first few months of the year 2018, 45 youngsters have joined the militant groups in Kashmir.

The steep rise in joining the militant ranks shows how the Kashmiri’s feels dejected and alienated. There is no dialogue, zilch reach from central government.  Had Government of India been sincere towards Kashmir situation, it would have not been worsened. The data compiled by the state’s health and medical education department showed that during 2016 uprisings 5,850 people were injured in the eight districts during that time.

 Hospitals in the Valley’s 10 districts had received 6,200 pellet victims during that time. Pertinent to mention here that our political process is based on three primary institutions — the parliament, assembly and panchayat — all seeking citizens over 18 years old.

In three earlier cycles of protest, in 2008, 2009 and 2010, the major casualties were largely among those who are below 18.

Kashmiri’s are angry, not India’s enemy. Today, they think that if they inflict injury on themselves, New Delhi must feel their pain. But New Delhi have made a gap and discontinued the efforts and work that was initiated by Vajpayee during his tenure as Prime Minister.

New Delhi must understand that it is more of an emotional problem than a geographical or economical one. But Delhi lacks emotion or empathy for Kashmir and its responses have often been in terms of economic packages rather than serious and honest political outreach.

The insurgency in Kashmir faced a military defeat. Those who turned towards separatist politics were finding it very difficult to stay relevant, given the state of competitive politics in the Valley.

The fact that our Party President, Mehbooba Mufti reiterated the need to revive Vajpayee’s vision after her meeting with Home Minister of India in New Delhi indicates that she is dedicated to that peacemaking project, which she perceives as her father’s legacy as much as Vajpayee’s. Engaging with Pakistan for a mutually agreeable solution is a key part of that vision. But, Mufti Sayeed’s reference to the crucial need for India-Pakistan rapprochement as the Vajpayee line have not been taken by the Union government which further alienated and worsened the relations between neighbors and the ‘integral part’.

It is high time that a healing touch and not a martial crackdown should form the core of the Kashmir policy. The policy of consistent inconsistency practiced by earlier Central governments hasn’t helped. New Delhi has to be different this time. It is high time Narendra Modi invokes and emulates the legacy left behind by former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajipayee towards Kashmir.