At last, the Centre seems to be seizing the Kashmiri moment, as green shoots of stability are beginning to sprout in the valley. Ever since the gunning down of Burhan Wani in July 2016, the valley has been on the boil. The nation witnessed unprecedented waves of youth fighting pitched battles with security forces for months on end.
Lethal ways of mob control and use of human shield by security forces earned India global opprobrium. Amidst a gloomy scenario appeared a ray of hope on this year’s Independence Day when PM Modi set the tone for reconciliation process. “Na goli se, na gaali se, Kashmir ki samasya suljhegi gale lagaane se (Kashmiri issues can be resolved only with embraces, not with bullets or abuses),” he had said, while vowing never to be soft on terrorists.
Accordingly, playing hardball with Hurriyat and cutting off their financial channels with Pakistan, and largely averting militant intrusions from across border prevented them from raising stakes for India to unacceptable levels. Easing on use of pellet guns and going soft on youths also helped the matters.
Of late, there has been perceptible ebb in mass protests. Making a timely move at this juncture, PM rushed Home Minister Rajnath Singh to address the long-felt need for development which alone can effectively blunt the edge of militancy. Reviewing the works on the Rs 80,000 crore PM Development Package, Singh struck right notes with a 5-C formula of Compassion, Communication, Coexistence, Confidence Building and Consistency in the approach to the festering problem of militancy in the valley.
It may be recalled that even while protests were at their peak and State government was in limbo, wise counsel prevailed upon the Centre not to pay heed to demands for dismissing the Mehbooba Mufti government and placing the state under President Rule. There were even calls by the opportunistic Farooqs to involve the Chinese in bilateral talks with Pakistan. But, a firm resolve by Centre and State soon wrong-footed the protesters.
In the same refrain, the Centre put at rest disquieting speculations over its stand on the Article 35-A in the Supreme Court. The apex court is hearing a petition, challenging the Article 35-A which empowers the State legislature to define “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges. At present, non-residents are barred from acquiring properties, seeking government job or voting in local elections. This is definitely not the right time to toy with the Article 35-A repeal which will only further alienate Kashmiris.
In the end, it is the people who have to say a firm ‘no’ to militants and, for this, they need to be emboldened with right measures, the beginning of which has just been made, hopefully. Now, the way forward for the Modi government is to effectively dissipate the visceral hatred among Kashmiris, especially the disaffected youth, by keeping in motion the process for all-round prosperity in the state. Enunciation and realisation of the 5-C formula will greatly facilitate this. This change in Centre’s approach to Kashmir augurs well for the state and the nation as well.