As I understand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened several windows on Sunday during his one-day visit to Palli village in the border district of Samba through his spoken words and more what he left unsaid.
One of the windows that he opened was the anticipated one – J&K is on a trajectory of unprecedented development that it had not seen in the past 70 years – the narration being that the past two-three years have been a period of magnificence and excellence as the tourists are coming in unprecedented numbers, investors are competing to be in J&K, and makeover of the image – the land of troubles to a peaceful destination for one and all.
The narrative is being sustained, and it will be pushed further in the coming days to convince the nation that J&K, especially Kashmir has changed indeed. The backdrop, whether it is mentioned in as many words or not, is clearly the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A.
A and splitting of the state of J&K into two union territories. It is not important to make a mention of all these changes effected on August 5, 2019. It is wise to presume that August 5 is at the core of it.
This window opens to the development scenes of connectivity, hydro-power projects and the prospects of investment coming from within the country and abroad.
Prime Minister reinforced this message quite powerfully through his oratory and also the place where he knew his words would be appreciated and cheered.
Samba is one of the places where the abrogation of Article 370 was celebrated. There is a complete devotion to Modi and his plan of action in this part of Jammu and Kashmir.
The choice of the venue was strategic and politically important in the scheme of things of those who decided about it.
The second window too was on expected lines. It was being speculated that he would reach out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and that the Valley youth will figure prominently in this.
There is a reason. It has been a consistent theme of PM to talk about the youth of Kashmir and the need for them to pick up cricket bat and ball, football and other constructive activities instead of opting for the destructive option.
He put into use the time in terms of generations – parents and grandparents – to lure the youth toward building a future of promise and peace. “You would be free of the traumatic experiences that your parents and grandparents suffered during their life time.
Trust my words, what I am saying I will do it in reality,” he declared in terms of finality – the third generation of Kashmiris will not suffer.
The simile of parents and grandparents denoted the time since late 1980s when militancy erupted in Kashmir and the consequences followed. It is third generation in Kashmir, naturally traversing through grandparents and parents to the children of today, in their teens or in early 20ss that is having tryst with the conflict.
The generation that was in its twenties or thirties were taken by surprise by the arrival of guns and bombs and they had to succumb to pressures of the gun wielding men and also those who were there to counter them. All conflict situations squeeze generations between guns.
That generation was also enamoured of the illusion of “Azadi” before the real face of it came out. That was an illusion and the gun and its killing power was the reality. Neighbours and friends were separated – this should also be read as the horrible tragedies that the Kashmiri migrants suffered in the dark times.
The darkness of that era cannot be captured by words spoken or through the visuals. There was a duty on part of the victims to pass on their stories of migration and the terrible days to their children and grandchildren. Back in the Valley also there were similar narratives.
At times the characters were same, on other occasions they were changed as per the convenience of the story teller and the ideology they held or loved as salvation. PM has promised that the new generation will not suffer all that what was suffered by the two preceding generations.
Now the unanticipated part. Despite being in an area not far away from the international border with Pakistan, PM did not mention the country nor its role in the troubles that have visited Kashmir and the generations. It was possibly because he did not want media to develop the headlines that would have changed the essence of his visit – the dawn of grassroots democracy in J&K and the development projects.
Had he spoken about Pakistan, the focus would have split. Modi is testing Pakistan’s new regime as to how sincere it is in fostering good ties with India. He had congratulated new PM of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif and voiced the desire for cordial relations in terror-free atmosphere.
Shehbaz had written a letter and reciprocated the spirit, but made the solution of Kashmir issue indispensable. Any word from Modi on Pakistan would have been connected to this debate.
His silence kept the ball in the court of Pakistan and as a statesman he wants to see how Islamabad-Rawalpindi want to play it with India.
Modi has unparalleled communication skills, but at times when he is not talking about something, he is testing waters. That’s what he did on Sunday.
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.