Chandigarh, August 9: Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally broke his silence on troubled Kashmir on 32nd day of indefinite curfew but with the usual articulation of the valley being integral part of India and that the handful of people leading the Kashmiris were misguiding them. He advised the Kashmiris to enjoy the glow of Azadi India attained on August 15, 1947. Maharaja Hari Singh signed the treaty of accession in October the same year but the gap of about two months now separates the valley from India by years. In between, hundreds of people have died for Azadi and Kashmir has turned into one of the most garrisoned regions in the world. Ever since the recent disturbance broke out after the killing of young militant Burhan Wani by the security forces, scores of young men, including kids, have been blinded by the pellets fired to control the unrest.
The Prime Minister once again preferred to address the Kashmiris not from the floor of Parliament but outside, like he has earlier done in case of Holy Cow.
When the kids get blinded by the pellet guns used by the security forces, it is irrelevant to advise them to start enjoying the glow of freedom like the rest of the country. But then Kashmiris have never considered themselves to be part of India and what worsened the situation over the years was the manufactured mandate to install puppet governments that never enjoyed any legitimacy.
Modi raised an important aspect asking whom the government should talk to. This issue is perhaps the most valid one in case the government wants to take yet another initiative. The irony is that this issue has been raised by him despite the fact that Jammu and Kashmir has a “popularly elected” PDP-BJP alliance with Mehbooba Mufti as the chief minister. Modi has thus indirectly questioned the legitimacy of the elected government. Here lies the problem. Rather this has been the problem even when then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee came up with the framework of “Kashmiriat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriat” repeated by Modi again today.
This framework has become irrelevant in the wake of young ones having been blinded by the pellets fired by the security forces. Scores of people have been killed. Counting has become meaningless. The Prime Minister should have gone and talked to the kids admitted to the hospitals who have been blinded. Clichéd speech loses all its meaning under such a situation.
Modi talked of people having been misguided and that those who should be having laptops and books in their hands instead carry stones.
But then uou can mislead some people for some time. You can mislead all the people for some time. However, you can’t mislead all the people for all the time. This has been going on for decades.
Kashmir is among the most beautiful regions in the world, a paradise on earth, with beautiful people but majority of them poor. Kashmir provided magnificent backdrop to a number of Bollywood movies in sixties and seventies. Poor Kashmiris could be seen in Punjab carrying big axes looking for work as wood-cutters. A little enterprising would come with Ludhiana made Kashmiri shawls on bicycles. That was all.
The fruits of Indian Azadi never reached the tribal areas in Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand. These people are also misguided as they are struggling for years for their existence and protection of their livelihood that is jungles with the area rich in minerals.
It is the political leadership that has to approach these people by going to them rather than posing the question as to whom to talk to. The issues are complex and might not be this simple. However, the first step has to be taken.
Kashmir has another very important aspect. This region is among the biggest sources of fresh water in the world. NASA had predicted years back that the next wars would be fought over water.
The basic issue remains the same, whether it is that of dalits, the tribals, the Kashmiris, the Nagas, the Mizos or the Manipuris, rather all minorities. It is the regional aspirations that have to be respected and the same can’t be crushed year after year with brute force. Both Kashmir and Manipur would have been normal in case use of force had been the solution.
Every conflict is resolved across the table.