Emotions overflow in Kashmir. That is part of culture and heritage of the place, which is marvellously beautiful and attracts millions of visitors. There is something more, as we all know that, the Vale also attracts negative attention. Is it a jinx with the beautiful places in the world; these are also tagged as conflict zones.
The word conflict is used to describe violence that brings ugly attention to the places. That is true to a large extent, but few issues are not addressed because the uncomfortable questions and answers that they bring up. Refuge is sought in escapism that only speeds up the conflict.
The conflict is multi-dimensional. It manifests because of the intense internal reasons. The outer dimension is tackled without attempts to understand the real reasons. There are some real and also imagined reasons to trace the roots of the conflict.
The reality needs to be decoded with the reality that exists behind it, and the invention of roots because politics does more harm than good. The attempt should have been to address the issues that caused conflict on the physical space, whether originating from across the border, or propelled by the vested interests from within. It is impossible to imagine that conflict can pedal on its own. It is pushed by the forces that gain from the cult of violence and psyche working behind it.
At the same time, it would be a mistake to see Kashmir as it was few years ago. Some perceptible changes have taken place, some of which are recognised, others not. The unfortunate part is that a single-lens narrative is sought to be built around the place by political groups as they think that their assessment about the situation is the ultimate truth. At least that is what they believe. That is their way of looking at things, but the real problem arises when challenging their narrative becomes a risky affair.
There are two vital aspects – one is rooted in history of the political hostility, wherein the political rivals are portrayed as eternal enemies. That works on Srinagar versus Srinagar, and Srinagar versus Delhi. Let’s be candid that Jammu and Ladakh were never able to posit themselves as big players in political narration. Delhi-Srinagar always dominated the discourse, and it continues to be the case till date.
That is the fault line that neither Srinagar nor Delhi attempted to correct. Unless the fault line is corrected, all the high sounding and dazzling optics and the emotion tapping narratives will not work in bringing Kashmir to the dream run promised by Delhi to Srinagar, and Srinagar to Srinagar itself.
Primarily, the two narratives run in opposite directions, there is tendency to clash. It is suicidal. The other aspect is that widening gaps are seen as a solution because that serves the political purposes of the parties involved.
BJP, the ruling party at the Centre, has great responsibility to shoulder. The party, largest in the world, is yet to involve Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the Valley, in its emotional fold.
The optics and sound of approval of its agenda, pursued through the constitutional changes and other laws, have not succeeded to the level that the party leadership had expected.
It’s good thing for the party to hail and credit Prime Minister Narendra Modi for all the development and progress in J&K. The whole thing is Prime Minister-centric. But the local unit of the party in the Union Territory too has a responsibility to connect with the people.
There is a need for the party to develop its original narrative after the abrogation of Article 370. Its argument that it is a national party, and talks about the national issues and it has done what needed to be done with regard to J&K – abolition of Article 370.
That fits in its historic narrative, but a question that it needs to address is that when it represents the nation’s pledge that J&K is an integral part of the country and the “Kashmir issue” has been resolved once and for all, how much the emotional integration has taken place.
Modi is the supreme leader. He is supreme because of his vision and efforts. The world leaders are looking up to him for solution of the global problems. In Jammu and Kashmir, in particular, the BJP needs to generate ideas, which gel with the local sentiment.
The local sentiments do not live in isolation to the national theme of the unity in diversity. The effort should have been to uplift the locals to that standard. The Prime Minister has given guidelines, it is for the party to accomplish the task. It is the primary duty of the party’s J&K unit to represent the thought process and emotional needs of the people to Delhi.
The party in J&K is gripped with its own infirmities. It compensates its real task by ridiculing the political opponents. There is a limit to criticise the political opponents, because after a while the criticism, even if it is genuine, starts sounding stale. It needs to come out of its psychological shackles and think something out of box.
Modi is a phenomenon. The party in J&K must work to make this phenomenon phenomenal by representing the ethos of the place and the people, not by the lip service or its single-minded discourse. It should gather courage and have conviction to make the voice of the people to be heard at the highest level, and to get counted in J&K.
Same holds true for the traditional Kashmir-centric parties. They need to understand new realities. It is not a suggestion to change their original stripes, but to adjust their politics to the times so that the people are not put to difficulties.
It also is their responsibility not to put their people to risks or obscure the realities which the place has started offering. It is their duty to pin point flaws in the make-believe narrative, but at the same time they should tell masses what is achievable and what is not. They need to reconnect the dots. The old-time politics will not work. Connecting dots will do.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.