One year past

Article 370 impacts everything in J&K from political discourse to personal responses, economy to emotions, society to sensibilities and from institutions to ideologies.
One year past
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The current dispensation headed by Mehbooba Mufti is about to complete one year. Succeeding her father who held the reigns for about ten months before passing away on 7th January 2016, the PDP has held the power for almost two years since the release of party's manifesto for 2014 assembly polls christened as "Aspirational Agenda". Mehbooba Mufti had stated that if she comes to power, "PDP would strive towards making Jammu and Kashmir politically empowered, economically self reliant, environmentally safe, socially cohesive and culturally vibrant". Looking back even cursorily, everybody would agree that the state stands politically shattered the worst. The political unrest and uprising of 2016 is still haunting people. Nothing other than unabated killings, blindings and spree of arrests under PSA stare at the face. The entire system of governance came to a standstill, all economic activities came to a grinding halt and educational pursuits to a total naught. People saw the darkest period after nineties in every sphere of life.

Article 370 impacts everything in J&K from political discourse to personal responses, economy to emotions, society to sensibilities and from institutions to ideologies. The PDP president had promised to use Article 370 to restore the original status of the state. Instead of advocating for restoration of original special status of the state, the PDP's position before the central government has become so week and fragile that talking of Article 370 has become like Adam's forbidden fruit. Party is indeed credited with envisioning "self rule", but due to fear of its coalition partner, the document remains defunct. Recently the BJP legislators raised a hue and cry over mere mention of Article 370 by CM on the floor of assembly. Getting harassed at the ramifications of any discord between the two partners, the government preferred to dissolve the assembly midsession. Reviewing the issues related to "disturbed areas" and revocation of AFSPA is a far fetched dream. Nobody will expect that this government can ever muster enough courage to even talk of it to Government of India. PDP had also promised that they would also review all the cases against the youth languishing in jails and stop use of inhuman crowd control methods like the pellet guns. On this count also PDP's record is all time worst. If anybody can remember anything of 2016 with excruciating pain, it is the indiscriminate use of pellet guns on the demonstrators regardless of their age and gender. CM herself honestly admitted use of excessive force in 2016. To worsen it further, the forces have asked for more pellet guns this year. Reintegration and reabsorption of Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmiri milieu is a heart warming promise. But carving out separate colonies for them will attract reprisals which might even endanger their lives. Quite a good number of Kashmiri Pandits continued to live with their muslim brethren after migration in nineties. The muslim neighbors took their best possible care. KPs too feel absolutely safe and secure in presence of Muslim neighbors. The very idea of isolating KPs from majority population is wrought with dangerous consequences and aloofness as it has done to Palestinians in Gaza. The request to central government for returning the Mega Power Projects of the state has been sternly turned down by them. Water resources being almost the lifeline for the state, the government is required to give it a hot pursuit till the purpose is achieved instead of shelving it halfway. 

The state has slipped down several notches economically, politically and socially in almost al economic zones. With the exception of Jammu which has witnessed all-round development especially in trade and manufacturing sectors has also recorded significant developmental activity. While political turmoil of 2016 has given a rude shock to the economic and commercial activity including tourism and allied sectors such as handicrafts and transport in Jhelum Valley, other regions like Pir Panchal and Indus Valley have also been adversely effected. The aspirational agenda held out big promises for the development of core sectors and creation of model business villages for horticulture and agriculture produce. Instead of taking tangible measures to realize such day dreams, Kashmir saw only wide spread bloodbath and destruction of property. Kashmir seems to have fallen out in the race for development as Smart City, while Jammu is likely to overtake Srinagar with the creation of a network of satellite cities. Intrastate and intra region connectivity was supposed to be yet another thrust area of the coalition government. Transport and connectivity having suffered major reverses almost whole year round, not even scant attention could be given to its growth. The aims and objectives as enshrined in the "Governance Alliance" between PDP & BJP having remained too illusive in 2016, the coalition government should take all measure to ensure peaceful 2017 so that the dream document is translated into reality now onwards. Undoubtedly, it cannot be achieved singlehandedly unless people's cooperation is solicited. 

Likewise, central government is required to supplement the efforts of state government in a big measure. To some extent, the state has managed to limp back to normalcy but how far it will sustain to administer the affairs of the state effectively particularly on political and economic fronts remains to be seen. For long time now CM has been requesting the centre for initiating a political process in the state. Holding dialogue with all concerned stake holders including Pakistan holds the master key to the resolution of Kashmir issue. Adopting a hegemonic approach in dealing with its beta-noir neighbor is certainly not in the larger interest of the country. Even globally, India will remain short of emerging as a world power as long as it pushes the Kashmir issue to back burner. The recent statements of Sinha and Chidambaram in this context should serve as an eye opener. PDP had promised to take significant Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) for improving INDO-PAK relations. Instead of ushering in any improvement, the relation between the two nuclear countries has dipped down to all time low. Center should pay heed seriously to what Mehbooba says. Being their torchbearer, she deserves to be treated with full respect. The coalition partner should also advise its cadres not to indulge in anti-muslim activities in Jammu. Any such occurrence there or even in the other parts of the country only weakens her position. By aligning with BJP, late Mufti had put the very survival of his party at stake. Knowing that it will attract people's wrath and anger, he still chose to go with it. The daughter too decided to follow the footprints of her father putting her political carrier at risk. BJP is expected to respect her sentiments. Pushing the Kashmir issue under the carpet will paralyze her from doing any developmental work or giving an effective government. If Modi could saffronize the most populous state of the country in entirety, why can't he give an all-time peace to a small state like J&K!!! The people here genuinely crave for it.

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