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OPINION

Changing discourse on Kashmir

We must adopt a realistic attitude towards the problem
Dr. Abdul Majid Siraj
Srinagar | Posted : Oct 13 2017 1:50AM | Updated: Oct 12 2017 11:19PM
Changing discourse on Kashmir
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Union Minister Jitendra Singh reiterated New Delhi's official stand on Jammu & Kashmir.  He says that it is like any other state like Bihar or UP a part of India.   There is however a stark question facing us about  the disarray  in the streets, disorder in the business outlets uncertain when they will have to pull their shutters down or when their sick relatives do not make it to the hospitals.  There is governance  visible with motorcades and  sirens but people feel they are assigned to a life to live under punitive harsh circumstances.  Where else in the entire world can we produce a state in civil strife where people in the streets feel insecure on a daily?     Girls are unsafe to walk to school. They fear someone will chop their braid off, they have tended ever since they started growing up as girls.     In frequent skirmished children get injured and blinded.   The Convention on the Rights of the Child (20 Nov. 1989 is a statute in A- 6 (1) to inherent right to life and in A-(2) ensure development of these young people.  The stress they are under amounts to mental torture (A-37 (a).  

‘There is need to change the discourse on Jammu & Kashmir for future generations and need to change the agenda’ the honorable Minister was quoted as saying.     Central government will bring pro-active step in development into Kashmir especially with respect to neutralizing extremist forces, emphasizes Union Minister).  Two questions arise.  Is elimination of extremist forces a part of development measures or in other words a cleanup of the ground to start development projects? The second question remains to enlighten people with identifying the extremists.   In this policy there will be the need not only to identify the guilty forces but to isolate them before neutralizing them otherwise we run the risk of neutralizing non-extremist population.   It is an arduous task to even define extremism let alone cordon and kill them.   

There has been very little said about a political overview as suggested by senior Indian Officers like Maj. Gen. B.S Raju of Victor Force in Kashmir.   Relatively an easy task, the General said, ‘ to contain militant operations but people must have political aspirations met so there is no need for army to be in the streets’.  General Raju said he understands why people do not want us to be around.  ‘We will withdraw as soon as militancy ends (GK 28 Sep. 17.P3) he said.  

The Union Minster made a reference to separatism in Kashmir without much by way of its origins, definition, impact or magnitude.  Has separatism become a conviction or creed?   In its format of an ideology there needs to be a countervailing code of beliefs sold to people to defeat it.   Force in its physical form will never overpower it because it is like a sap that fills every fiber in the body.    The opposite dogma would be conformism or unionism or patriotism.  Surely for all people of Jammu & Kashmir we  need a new approach, a new light that shines on their future, a road map to consummation of all civil and political rights?  It is unfortunate that people of Jammu & Kashmir are seen with the same light as shone on them in 1947.   There is a mutation that sets in rapidly in any population going through powerful turbulence and scathing turmoil.   Those early days a big hand rose and they stooped in obeisance.  Not now. 

The honorable Minister making a slanted reference to America talked about turning round world opinion on Kashmir.   There is no doubt the big powers used Kashmir for their own vested interests and ignore the suffering of masses of Jammu & Kashmir a minority population in their view but there is no doubt that their foreign policy repositories are filled with every event in the beleaguered history of this state from the time of decolonization of the subcontinent to the time of this writing.  They will come out with surprises at every occasion challenged by any country. 

The Union Minister expressed a firm opinion on the term ‘Issue of Kashmir’.   The only issue on Kashmir he said was the retrieval of the part occupied by Pakistan.    In this corollary there is a meeting of minds with people because in the revolution surging for many decades re-unification of severed parts of the State forms an important part of their demands.   People crave to be united to their families across the borders.   However a conflict emerged in their hearts that there has never been an open case lodged or a protest registered in any world forum against Pakistan to re-unite the State.   They feel disparaged that re-unification is only used as a bargaining chip in negotiations and even to the extent that Pakistan was offered to keep all parts of the State administered by them against foregoing their claims on the state and make existing borders permanent international borders as a final solution.   People on both sides will not accept.   

Maharaja Hari Singh was mentioned as having handed over the State to the Union of India.  In his proclamation on 5 March 1948 and 9th June 1949 he in pursuance of J&K Constitution Act 1939 (ACT  XIV) I have established a constitutional government.  He refused to accept Indian Constitution or the temporary accession of 1947 two years prior to this declaration.  The debate on the Instrument of Accession.