Kashmir has been a hot bed of insurgency since early nineties. It has attracted thousands of youth for the past two decades. Unnerved by lethality of militant attacks at Pampore (June 27) and popularity of militancy Rajnath Singh sought an end of this phenomenon through a targeted police action. Burhan was targeted. The action boomeranged. Within no time Kashmir was in flames. Response was a nightmare for New Delhi. It was a surprise not because there was a hartal next day or a huge gathering participated in his funeral but a surprise on account of wide spread agitation that it invoked. Illusions of normalcy concocted by successive state governments dissipated.
Having heard the words of K R Malkhani (late editor of The Organiser) Agar ham Lahore Desakhtay hain Kashmir mein kya rakha hai during a conversation at Indian Law Institute seminar in 1990 I expected Sanghi government of India to behave differently than its predecessors. Modi government however tried to target the agitation with heavy hand. Brute force was let loose to break the will of defiant Kashmiris. Instead of controlling the situation widespread loss of life and eyesight led to further complications. New Delhi was shattered but pretended to be un-moved and indifferent expecting normalisation once people get exhausted within weeks. Contrary to their expectation instead of dying down the pace of agitation transcended beyond Kashmir valley and engulfed Kargil Poonch, Rajouri and Chenab belt of the state.
One of the methods resorted by New Delhi to break the will of Kashmiris was blockade of supplies to Kashmir. It was perceived through stopping trucks from coming to Kashmir and blocking milk supplies to urban centres, Kashmiris could be coerced to submission. Previous governments outsourced such acts to Sang Parivar to avoid state responsibility. This time state being run by BJP the option of outsourcing did not exist. The potential of social media to report instantly became another impediment. Still Rajnath Singh expected it to yield results within a week. He announced six days as time line for normalisation. Instead of normalising the situation became more problematic. After failing to curb the agitation through use of force and economic blockade Indian home minister proceeded for reconciliatory posturing. He led an all-party delegation to Kashmir.
On account of deficit of credibility, the delegation failed to invoke positive response from the population and leadership. Once bitten twice shy even the moderates who otherwise have always been receptive to negotiations opted a hard line. New Delhi failed to contain Kashmir. Once situation started to get out of its control and was on the verge of invoking international attention New Delhi was looking for avenues for maligning it and portraying it as a manifestation of cross border terrorism. Uri attack was invoked as a handy tool for this purpose. Soon after Uri attack Indian media degenerated into a war mongering campaigner. India mobilised its troops along the LOC once this exercise failed to deliver the expected results Modi government proceeded for the so called surgical strike.
The surgical strike was nothing but a border skirmish not uncommon on line of control but Indian media magnified it out of proportions and portrayed it as a significant achievement of Narender Modi government. The surgical strike however became a joke with in no time. While Pakistan refused to budge aggressive postures of India. Modi govt tried to use other arm twisting techniques. It threatened to revoke Indus water treaty as well as most favoured nation status to Pakistan. On these two points government of India had to beat a hasty retreat as it became obvious to it that main sources of Indus basin are in China and balance of trade with Pakistan is in favour of India.
Chinese made their retaliatory potential clear through inauguration of dam over Brahamputra river. Inflated balloon of Indian potency of using water as weapon of war stood punctured. The withdrawal of most favoured nation balloon fizzled once Indian state came to know that its exports to Pakistan were more than two and a half billion while imports from that country remained just one billion. Scrapping of trade agreement thus could mean the loss of foreign exchange to India rather than Pakistan.
Detention of family members of youth. Detention of leaders and activists. Rampant use of PSA against political activists. Destruction of property, dismissal of employees from govt service, suspension of internet services, denial of access to social media and formal ban on publication of News papers are other means employed to crush the resistance. Once all these measures failed the analysts in new Delhi impressed upon Modi that Kashmir society & resistance is sustaining on fake currency. He proceeded for demonetisation but ended up committing political suicide. Modi expected Kashmir to become an island of desperation people queuing up before banks for exchange of money. Nothing of the sort happened in the valley while whole of India plunged in to a chaotic condition. In the estimation of Man Mohan Singh the architect of post cold war Indian economy gross domestic product is going to deplete by 2%.
Informal economy which immunised India from manipulations multinationals is in shambles. The ones hardest hit are the money lenders and traders who have always constituted rank and file of various outfits of Sangh Parivar.