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Will the delegation restore normalcy in Kashmir?

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Kashmir, one of the most beautiful places on earth, also constitutes the most militarized region of the world. More than two months have elapsed since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by the forces in Kashmir. It was a big triumph for Indian forces to inhibit the famous Kashmir militant. Alas! Who knew it would become a big headache for the Indian government in the time to come. From the day Burhan was killed, Kashmir has been under curfew, with 76 people killed and more than 8000 injured.

In a recent development,  Indian government proposed to send a delegation with a powerful mandate, unlike in 2010. Commenting on the  2010 delegation, JNU vice president Sheila Rashid said, “Last time, the delegation had only a human rights mandate which was not enough.” The   delegation was headed by the Home Minister of India Mr. Rajnath Singh with some powerful political personalities in the likes of Arun Jaitley, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Sitaram Yechury. On 4th Sep, the 26-member delegation headed by the Home Minister  reached Srinagar to meet people from different harbors. Mr Rajnath confirmed that “the 26-member all-party delegation has met over 300 people since it reached Srinagar” (reports Greater Kashmir). The delegations comprised of opposition parties NC, Congress and CPIM. Some fronts refused to meet the delegation, arguing that it will be another futile exercise. These included Hurriyat, JKLF, DAK, BAR and fruit growers.

Senior Hurriyat leader Prof A.G Bhat said, “This is a futile exercise. Nothing concrete will happen until or unless India talks to Pakistan on Kashmir. We will not be able to arrive at any solution if India only talks to Kashmir or Pakistan talks to Kashmir. We should try and solve this issue which can otherwise result in hostilities between the two neighboring nations,” (quoted from the Times of India).  Some members of the delegation had however broken away from the team to meet senior resistance leaders including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik. But the three leaders who are either in jail or under house arrest refused to meet the MPs. CPIM leader S.R Yechury added that last time he had a detailed meeting with Geelani, but may be the failure to follow up was the reason the separatist leader didn’t come forward (quotes Kashmir Observer).

“We have to remember that Kashmir is not just a piece of land, there are actually people living there. Primarily, contrary to the way it’s projected in much of the media unfortunately, the Kashmir problem is not primarily a problem of terrorism; it is not primarily a Pakistan-inspired problem. It is primarily a political issue, to do with Kashmiri sentiment, and that cannot be addressed by bullets. You can’t solve that at gunpoint.

How much this initiative will be prolific? We need time before commenting on the success of the meeting . The Home Minister disagreed with the view that the mission was a failure and said the delegation had “very good interactions” with individuals and groups, writes Greater Kashmir. Commenting on the success of the delegation, the CPIM leader pointed out that we needed to involve all the stakeholders, as mere slogans won’t improve the situation in Kashmir. “We are urging both sides to first restore normalcy and ensure that the suffering of people during the last two months ends. Start unconditional political dialogue.” He said, “When the government gives slogans, some tangible follow-up steps should also be taken.” He said the government keeps on repeating Vajpayee’s statement of ‘jamhooriat, Kashmiriyat and insaniyat’ but “forgot the steps the former Prime Minister took along with the slogan, like unilateral ceasefire during Ramadan and talks with the Hizbul Mujahideen. (The then) deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani himself held number of meetings with Hizbul leaders.” Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when asked whether talks with separatist groups would be “within the scope of the Indian Constitution”, said the talks would be “within the scope of humanity.”(Quoted from Scroll)

During his hour-long interaction with the delegation, Omar recalled the previous all-party delegation visits since 1990 to Kashmir and said that “unfortunately when things cool down, there is no progress on the issue” (quoted from The Wire).

Some mainstream leaders even accuse that  the delegation had nothing genuine to offer for the state. Congress chief G.A. Mir, after meeting the MPs, said it seems it (delegation) has no roadmap. “They do not have anything concrete to offer,” he said (quoted from The Wire).

Government needs to take a state of genuine approach to bring normalcy in the Kashmir. BJP-led NDA government  is in no mood to meet resistance leaders to restore normalcy. Everybody needs to be taken on board to move forward. While appealing to the people to restore normalcy in the state, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda urged “everybody involved, whether it is security forces, whether it is separatists, governments, student leaders to find some way forward” (quotes the Indian Express). Kavita Krishnan also emphasized the need to involve “all sections of the Kashmiri people” in the political dialogue involving Kashmir and to treat them with the respect they deserve.

The Home Minister-led delegation failed to involve all the stakeholders of  Kashmir. Distancing New Delhi and his party BJP from Mehbooba Mufti’s decision to invite resistance leadership in Kashmir for talks with the all-party delegation, Singh said she (Mehbooba) had also sent letters to separatists for holding talks (writes greater Kashmir). BJP is in no mood to come out from the prison to restore normalcy.

Kashmir is a political issue, it needs political solution and we needs to look beyond economic packages  “We have to remember that Kashmir is not just a piece of land, there are actually people living there. Primarily, contrary to the way it’s projected in much of the media unfortunately, the Kashmir problem is not primarily a problem of terrorism; it is not primarily a Pakistan-inspired problem. It is primarily a political issue, to do with Kashmiri sentiment, and that cannot be addressed by bullets. You can’t solve that at gunpoint,” writes Kavita Krishnan for the Cobra Post. Senior CPIM leader S.R Yechury said, “The state and central governments have to take the political dialogue forward now. There will be no solution without a political dialogue. You have to start a political dialogue, an unconditional political dialogue with all the stakeholders.” (quoted by Indian Express).

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