Modi is no Vajpayee

By now, it is clear to the people of India in general and to Kashmiris in particular that Mr.
Modi is no Vajpayee
File Photo

By now, it is clear to the people of India in general and to Kashmiris in particular that Mr. Modi is only tactically invoking former Prime Minister (PM) Vajpayee's mantra of "Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat", but in practice he has no intension to follow his political guru.

He has not done so during the Gujarat riots either. When the PDP-BJP coalition government was formed, hopes were raised high to address both the economic and political dimensions of Kashmir issue.

The coalition agenda of governance talks about issues of unemployment, accountability, draconian laws, LoC travel and trade, human rights and dignity of life, Hurriyat Conference and dialogue process with Pakistan. But after ten months of experience with this government, none of the issues mentioned were remotely addressed.

Therefore, there is a general feeling of disillusionment in the Valley about the restoration of peace process and rehabilitation of flood affected people. The sense of alienation among the Kashmiri youth could be gauged by the simple fact that thousands of youth are openly defying their parents and participating in the funeral processions of militants. Several well educated local youth have joined and are joining the ranks of militancy.

Mr. Modi's speech at Sher-e-Kashmir stadium on 7th November 2015 was highly disappointing. It was a very ordinary speech by all accounts. Over the last few days, the coalition members were gearing up for a historical visit. But it turned out to be a mere economic package of Rs 80,000 crore. Such packages will not resolve the political issue of Kashmir. Economic packages were announced in the past as well. As rightly put by former Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah that we were not waiting for the package as much as we were for a new political thinking. 

Where is the Jamhooriyat? The Srinagar city is under siege for the past few days. All Hurriyat leaders have been put under detention. Voices of dissent are being curbed ruthlessly. Internet services are put under suspension. And finally, people are paid Rs. 2000 to make it to the PM's rally. It is another thing that the RSS is free to showcase its strength and to terrify the minorities in Jammu city.

The less the talk about Insaniyat in India the better it is. Where this Insaniyat was when our young Zahid was burnt alive by goons at Udhampur, Akhlaq was lynched in Dadri and Noman was brutally murdered in Himachal.

And Kashmiriyat is to invoke Sufis of Kashmir and praise our tolerance. This slogan of Kashmiriyat is untenable when artists, writers and filmmakers are returning their awards in protest against growing intolerance, particularly against Muslims. To put an end to the present deadlock, the following measures need to be undertaken on urgent basis: 

Firstly, dialogue process with Pakistan and Hurriyat Conference is all the more important if the region is to live in peace. The global community is very apprehensive over the possibility of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan if another Mumbai like terror incident happens in India. The trust deficit between India and Pakistan is at all time high. In order to build trust and put in place some important Confidence Building Measures, it is essential to revive the dialogue process.    

Secondly, the difficulties in the cross LoC travel and trade must be addressed. Travel permits shall not be kept restricted to the divided families only. Traders, academics, artists and students must be allowed to travel via LoC routes on special permits. There is a long pending demand to provide banking and communication facility to the traders.

Thirdly, the draconian laws like AFSPA have outlived their utility. The political leadership in India must prevail upon the armed forces to agree on a systematic withdrawal of AFSPA from the state.

But I am little optimistic that things will change for better. Here you have an PM who doesn't need advice or analysis of anyone in this world on Kashmir. On the same day, when he addressed a highly managed crowd at Sher-e-Kashmir stadium, Gowhar Ahmad was killed by a tear gas shell hitting him in the head. I fear, Modi's visit might push us two steps backward in resolving the political issue of Jammu and Kashmir.    

Dr. Bashir Ahmad Veeri is member of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council.

Views are personal.

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