A PLEA TO SAVE THE VALLEY

Amna Tue, 16 May 2017

A PLEA TO SAVE THE VALLEY

The valley is in grim situation again with bloodshed, unrest and strike. Since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July and so far several people have been killed. Further, in the recent by-elections also, the state government failed to conduct the elections in peaceful manner. Killing of youth, lives of the people in danger, closing of avenues for jobs & employment, amongst others are a sordid reality of the state. Reports of mere six percent polling in the by-poll, stone-pelters also put up tough questions.

Critiques are vocal now about the mannerism of the Centre as well as the PDP-BJP coalition government over the handling of the situation in J&K since July last year. There seems to be callous attempts on part of Centre and State to ignore the problems of the people. Sadly, both the centre and the state have not been successful to assess the ground situation and make initiatives for restoring peace & normalcy to the state. The valley has been facing unrest for quite some time now. Such oblivious stand towards loss of lives of several innocent people is betrayal of mandate of people of Jammu & Kashmir by the ruling coalition.

There seems to be a stalemate and paralysis of government work because alliance formation in the state was not pragmatic enough. This is evident from the fact that instead of addressing the critical concerns, it is at this time battling within with their ideological tensions. The sheer failure to get Agenda of Alliance (AoA) implemented, speaks volumes about bad governance and malpractices happening in the working of the state.

Problems of governance demand realistic solutions. Mere utterance of ideas shall not be enough to solve issues. Similarly, this can be seen when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi did by harping on rhetoric over the issues, as when he calls for appeal to ‘humanity’, what kind of humanity he means to imply when innocents are suffering everyday & there is no action plan on part of Centre. Absence of any coherent policy on part of Centre and State- to deal with Kashmir has lead to present situation. The finance Minister Arun Jaitley has reduced the entire situation to something that corresponds to lack of development syndrome. To debate on notion of peace & normalcy requires that one perceives the situation in myriad layers- grassroots, culture, society, national unity, integrity.

The need of the hour is to stand in solidarity with Jammu and Kashmir. All political parties should reach out for the same, within the framework of the Constitution. It is to be appreciated that being concerned over the disturbed situation in the Valley, Indian National Congress formulated a policy-planning group for Jammu & Kashmir. Its aim is to take forward the peace initiative and also focus on research route to understand problems of the terrain. The policy-planning group is chaired by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh including P Chidambaram and CWC members Karan Singh and Ghulam Nabi Azad, besides the J&K Congress in-charge Ambika Soni.

Solutions do not exist in vacuum. Contemporary issue demands that voices of all be heard in order to meet yardstick of justice. No one side can claim absolute say in the matter. This is why, it is essential that sustained and meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders be asked for. A multi-fold approach is needed to solve as the crisis is grave. This demand is not new, as even the two parties (PDP and BJP) favoured sustainable dialogue by taking everyone on-board in their common minimum program.

This deteriorating situation of Jammu & Kashmir, attack on our armed forces along borders force us to ask the question that despite of grand narrative of demonetisation why terrorism in the country and infiltration on borders not stopping. On one side, Pakistan’s nefarious acts have also martyred our soldiers while on the other hand, what we see is that in Kashmir the government is registering FIR against Army. Political selfishness is seen in running of PDP & BJP alliance.

The buck is being passed by the government as innocent people are bereaved. What is essential to understand is that the canon of national security has become contested in today’s parlance. There are multiple threats underneath and that threats are being redefined every hour. Security perception in present times cuts across all borders & there are nontraditional dimensions like narcotics, terrorism which coexist with the conventional ones. In such disputed scenario, the idea of pitching the polity in short term view of ‘us versus them’ shall do no good. One has to question that how far compulsions & failures of domestic power sharing in state government of Kashmir are responsible for the uncontrolled law & order.

Kashmir has a unique role in our diplomacy also. Our borders are essential to factor-in while analysing India’s relationship with neighbours and international polity. The need of the hour is to understand by the incumbent government realize that democracy is beyond majority rule, & is not merely about temporary legislative mandate arrogance. In larger sense democracy implies protection of the vulnerable. The government response in form of mere arousing civic sentiment in tautness seems short sighted. What is missing is the essential action & hard talk for streamlining terms of engagement, trade & mediation.

Crisis gives a moment when great churning takes place. No doubt any attack on unity of nation & integrity of our borders is condemnable. The grassroots of the state also have to be invigorated in a manner to lead to a constructive analysis of problem at hand. Sadly, the politics of solidarity in India seems to be going down at this time when one community or region is played versus the other in Kashmir & authorities remain a silent spectator.

Further, any national security & foreign policy issue cannot be reduced to problematique of nationalism. We often fail to comprehend that Nationalism & democracy are not twins. The retort in chauvinist sense of eye-for an eye, reduces the thin line between state, nation & democracy to a farce. What is essential that government should work on to build consensus in terms of mobilization of resource, manpower & material as larger collaborative strategy. Culture of democracy has to be nurtured in our realistic comprehension of peace efforts.

Author is an Assistant Professor Political Science, DU