Kashmir leadership shall have to show maturity and capacity to adopt to changes on the anvil. They had been anticipating these changes for the last more than one and a half years, now these are likely to become reality, soon. These developments, which are likely to take place in next few weeks is not a big surprise but that will certainly show that how Delhi has started looking at J&K through a changed prism.
There is a definitive change in its outlook toward Kashmir.
The anticipated changes, may fall way short of expectations of those pitching for the restoration of the special status and the guarantees of exclusive rights and privileges to the permanent residents of the erstwhile state, but there is something in offing as the thinking of Delhi has started undergoing some change after the recent feedback of the normal times revisiting Kashmir have gained traction. That’s what Delhi wanted after what it did on August 5, 2019, when it abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two union territories.
At that time, Delhi had underlined that while it was removing Article 370 because it was a temporary provision in the constitution – the temporary provisions could not be deemed as permanent - but also wanted the things to transform in J&K. It had a clear agenda to neutralize militants and the forces supporting it. That it thought was necessary for the development to transform the landscape of the newest Union Territory.
That time, obviously, no one had anticipated the strike of the coronavirus that halted all plans, including the work of Delimitation Commission that was to delineate and demarcate constituencies for the Assembly. Now it is certain that the much-awaited Delimitation Commission report is being completed. It may come out before the July-end. Now with National Conference joining the commission, it is hoped that the things would be balanced. It is pointless to say that the party leadership wasted more than one year in taking this decision. That has led to many speculations, but now one can hope that NC would be able to balance the things.
The completion of the Delimitation Commission work has an inevitable next step in waiting. Here I would like to quote what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his speech on the 74th Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort last year. He said: “The delimitation exercise is going on in Jammu and Kashmir under the leadership of a retired chief justice of the Supreme Court. We want early completion of the delimitation exercise so that there are early elections, there should be Jammu and Kashmir MLAs, its own cabinet, its Chief Minister, so that it can march towards development with a new vigour. India is committed to it and is making all efforts in this regard.”
The essence of the whole thing lies in the words, “India is committed to it…” That means that it was a national commitment. Now 75thIndependence day is approaching and PM will live up to the nation’s commitment that he had made last year.
This also is a challenge for the political leadership to understand the changing dynamics. This challenge can be met with positivity of mind, which is reflected on the ground too. Delhi is mulling to restore the statehood to the Union Territory of J&K . There, however, is going to be no reunion with Ladakh. Some deliberations are on in Delhi and these may conclude soon.
As and when the Centre decides to restore state to J&K, who can claim that it was their demand that has been fulfilled by Delhi. In Kashmir, no other party other than Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari, can make this claim, for it was the first to raise the demand for the restoration of the statehood to J&K. And as far as the restoration of the special status is concerned, the party wanted the Supreme Court to expedite the process and hoped that the verdict would be in line with the aspirations of the people .
In Jammu, barring a few, people of the region at large are for the statehood. This is the real aspiration of the people. Simple and clear. There is an opportunity coming J&K’s way, it can be utilized only by a mature leadership. Their past performance is much below the mark. J&K cannot risk the repeat of the same.