A dismal state of affairs

We have maintained time and again that Kashmir is not only an economic problem but a political one too; The 2016 protest programmes have considerably weakened our economy.
A dismal state of affairs
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The title of this write-up is justified by the following account on different aspects of the Kashmir imbroglio. A difficult scenario is emerging in our state where the mainstream politics is taking a backseat. No urgency is shown by the state or the central government for restoring a sense of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Modi and Doval

It was on November 9, 2015 while writing a piece for this paper when I posited that "Modi is no Vajpayee". He was only tactically invoking former Prime Minister Vajpayee's mantra of "Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat", but in practice he had no intensions to follow his footsteps. Modi and his national security advisor Ajit Doval are silently presiding over the civilian killings in Kashmir. It is really unfortunate that the army chief is now issuing political statements. He is blurring the distinction between protesting people and the over ground workers. People have a fundamental right to the freedom of speech and expression and to assemble peaceably without arms. Although, officially these rights were not taken away from the citizens of our state but in practice we are essentially denied these rights. Peaceful assembly of the people is a sort of anathema for the state. It is virtually a democratic façade. In a normal democracy like US, people do assemble and register their protest as happened during the 2011 'Occupy Wall Street' movement.  

India is implementing the Doval doctrine in Kashmir which he propounded in a 2010 seminar at Hyderabad. He criticised what he calls the policy of appeasement adopted by the Indian government vis-à-vis Kashmir since 1947. For him, article 370 is a product of that appeasement policy. It is Pakistan's ISI who is instructing people where they should congregate and where to collect stones, said Mr. Doval at the seminar. If there is a crisis in Kashmir, try to understand his policy prescriptions to the central government: "Don't overreact, don't give in, don't follow appeasement, the crisis will pass off. It looks big in the midst of it, they cannot sustain it beyond a point and even if they do there is a price that they have to pay." To his wisdom, it will be a message to Pakistan that "paying some youth" to wage an "armed violent uprising" will not change Indian government's policy". Do you expect a better national security advisor for the Indian PM? Rather Modi is endorsing this policy since he never spoke on the civilian causalities in Kashmir. It is the former Home Minister of India Mr. P Chidambaram  who confessed that he had a sinking feeling that India had nearly lost Kashmir due to the use of excessive force by the security forces to crush the people's dissent. 

PDP's Complicity

BJP's coalition partner in the state is in full conformity with the aggressive and violent policy adopted by New Delhi towards Kashmir. No one in PDP is speaking against the RSS footprint in the state nor have they denounced the army chief's statement. What can you expect from a Chief Minister when says puts the blame on our youth for the unrest in Kashmir. Addressing the youth workers of the party recently in Srinagar, she said: "Give me peace I will employ you in irrigation, PHE, tourism just after six months of training. But give me peace." She must know that a government which fails to provide peace and security to its people loses the legitimacy to rule. The BJP-PDP agenda of alliance talks about unemployment, accountability, draconian laws, LoC travel and trade, human rights and dignity of life, dialogue with Hurriyat Conference and Pakistan. But the last two years have proved otherwise.     

Youth and Encounters

Kashmir has experienced a lot of violence since the killing of Burhan Wani 8 July 2016. No serious effort is being made to reach out to the people. That is why our youth are fearless today. The sense of alienation could be gauged from the simple fact that they march in thousands towards the encounter sites irrespective of tough restrictions being enforced by the government forces. Well educated boys are turning to militancy. It is simply a mass uprising. The Director General of Police S P Vaid candidly confessed that: "Assembling or marching of local people towards encounter sites and throwing stones at forces puts us in a difficult position. At times it hampers anti-militancy operations. Shouting slogans and throwing stones at police pose a great risk to locals who put their lives on the line." But even the army chief's couldn't intimidate them. Only a few days back, two more civilians were killed during an encounter in Pulwama. It must be born in mind that when a nation loses the fear of death, nothing can stop them from realising their dreams. 

Economy and Aspirations

We have maintained time and again that Kashmir is not only an economic problem but a political one too. The 2016 protest programmes have considerably weakened our economy. Besides, we are not following any systematic model of economic development in the state. It is a sort of 'confused mixed model' with no potential for job creation. Our infrastructure is in shambles. Roads, hospitals, schools, colleges and even universities give a dismal look. On the other hand, our Kashmir is experiencing a youth bulge. J&K has the highest percentage of registered unemployed youth in India. When a state loses its capacity to cater to the growing demands of development and employment it falls into a development trap. Unemployment is one of the reasons for the surge in violence in Jammu and Kashmir.   

A Bleak Future

Although pessimism reinforces negativity but the future doesn't hold a promise for us. There are no indications of a rethink in the New Delhi's Kashmir policy. The Doval doctrine doesn't permit the policy of 'appeasement': "talks with Pakistan or Kashmiri resistance leadership". There are signs for a fresh wave of violence in the offing. Every effort is being to silence the dissenting voices including that of the opposition mainstream parties. The security agencies even corner as too. The opposition parties in Kashmir have exhausted all options for getting India to talk to the neighbouring country and to the Hurriyat. But we are now reduced as mere spectators in this unfolding political drama. The agenda of alliance is a complete failure: no return of power projects, no dialogue, no development, no reconciliation, no new trade routes and only a 'wounding and killing touch'.    

Dr. Bashir Ahmad Veeri is a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council from the National Conference. Views are personal

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