Still Groping

The BJP leadership would indeed seem to be odds with itself trying to work out a Kashmir formula.
Still Groping
File Photo

It's almost official: let the Kashmir Valley stew in its own juices. A well considered view it seems to be even if it is injurious to the long-term health of the State and the helpless population caught up between the pellet gun and the protestor, his lung power the only other weapon he has to fight back with. The pellet gun may be a more devastating weapon than say a stone,  a weapon of the last resort for a harried citizenry, now in the third month of resisting what it sees as serious inroads made in the name of the country's unity and the State's right to assert its authority, not all of it as yet, although that remains a possibility given the context of New Delhi's  obsession  to  put dissent out of the Kashmir discourse. 

The Lakshman Rekha, the point of no return, had well and truly be drawn by Prime Minister Modi when he okayed the visit by an all-party parliamentary delegation to the Valley, headed by the Home Minister, restricting its mandate to a virtual no-go, after reminding everyone that the valley  is but one part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

 This  refrain was to be repeated by the Home Minister when he and the all-party delegation flew into the ghost city, Srinagar  and  not before invoking the other ghost – Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat and Kashmiryat – one that left everyone cold, including the separatist leadership which was put away in protective detention but  invited nevertheless by Mehbooba Mufti in  her capacity as the PDP chief. 

On the concluding day Rajnath of his third visit in two months to State, like his political boss, Mr. Modi, brought  in  BJP's favourite flavor of the day – the valley, Ladakh and Jammu  together making the State of Jammu and Kashmir, a ploy used at  random by the parivar to cut the valley to size. Or, so  New Delhi would like to assert to at the slightest provocation. Like Rajnath for no rhyme or reason forced a short halt on the delegation by stopping over in Jammu briefly on the way back home from Srinagar.

In perfect synchronization that morning a Ladakh MP and a former Jammu legislator took to the air to demand separate status for the two non-valley regions, the MP wanting Ladakh declared a Union Territory (he didn't  seem particularly  enthusiastic  about  Kargil,  and the other wanted a separate state status for Jammu; both left the valley severely alone except for the voices raised the same day about  a separate  homeland for Kashmiri Pandits in the valley, even in the Chenab valley next door

Simultaneously, New Delhi used the well-worn "sources" route to publicise the leak that it intends to turn the screws on the Hurriyat and the other separatist to track down their funding, the  assumption  being  that they receive money from Pakistani sources, among others. The screws are to be tightened further it was made known. The threat to withdraw certain privileges, including personal security details, extended to separatists by  A.B. Vajpayye further strengthens the view that  the BJP has lost interest in negotiations.  The all-party resolution remained an innocuous piece of verbiage with no connexion to the ground reality. It was evident as a critic has noted New Delhi has lost interest in the Vajpayee line apart from parroting whenever it suits the party..

And Rajnath's lament that  Syed Ali Shah Geelani had insulted elected representatives Sitaram Yechhury and three other MPs – this when he firmly argued that the MPs who sought meetings with the Hurriyat had not been mandated by the delegation to meet him or any  other separatist leaders. Didin't really know that the Home Minister held the Opposition MPs in such high regard.

Have the snubbed MPs complained a great deal about the so-called snub? Would anyone without an appointment be received at the RSS offices at Jhandewalan in Delhi or at Nagpur? Mehooba Mufti had more reason to feel slighted than a Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal but then she was  interested in keeping the fences well-mended for future contacts with the separatist for a later day. Her invitation to them had, of course, been rejected on the very valid ground that they could not possibly have received visitors in  custody.

The BJP leadership would indeed seem to be odds with itself trying to work out a Kashmir formula; to all appearances it doesn't  even seem interested  in  making a purposeful move in this regard. And may I in passing  mention that the Marxist government  in Kerala, a  li'l bird tells me, is all set to ban RSS shakhas (assemblies) in schools.

In sum, the BJP government in Delhi doesn't seem to be clear about  formulating  a Kashmir policy. Merely by declaring a war on terror, with some friendly countries backing you, you can't hope to muzzle Kashmiris on one pretext or the other. Yes, your priorities in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections may require you to be seen as tough on Muslims but must this lead to the creation of  a war-like situation. Why can't Mr. Modi's government for the sake of peace in the valley banish the use of pellet guns in the State.? A heavy toll of life has already been claimed. The number of the maimed also runs into three figures.

And finally, yes, sir, it is easier to wage war and far  more difficult to pursue the path of peace and reason.The BJP still, flush with its political ascendancy of the past two years, must immediately move in to rein in its lunatic fringe, to re-examine its one dimensional view of India, and quickly learn to carry the Indian people, not just safronised Hindus, with it. To harp  on  hackneyed, non issues such as the obsession with the valley being just a part of the State, all to achieve demographic change should not be a choice. Friday's frontline tour of the valley by the Army Chief unfortunately speaks of a hardened mindset as does the consequent  decision  to induct  extra companies of soldiers in South and North Kashmir. A large body of BSF men was inducted into the  valley only a month back, in a reversal of policy, and now even larger number of soldiers  is on the way. 

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