During a recently held round table discussion by a Delhi based civil society group on Kashmir, some participants voiced their apprehensions on futility of such initiatives and reminded that all such exercises had yielded nothing notwithstanding tall claims of the Government and expectations of the people of trouble torn Jammu and Kashmir State. Even those suggesting ways and means to initiate confidence building measures for preparing a ground to hold dialogue for return of normalcy and peaceful resolution of J&K didn’t look very enthusiastic in expressing their opinions as they were also apparently convinced that the 70- year old Kashmir imbroglio will continue to remain as it is in view of the past experiences of all political initiatives in this regard.
The hours long deliberations and the ideas floated there for confidence building measures on Kashmir apparently had nothing new and inspirational except an example quoted by the main speaker and former Union Minister Manishanker Aiyer, in response to the vociferous apprehensions of some participants, who felt that every dialogue would meet the fate of earlier ones due to agenda of `Azadi’ by a section of people, who must need to be engaged for a peaceful resolution on one hand and India’s compulsion of not considering such demand on the other hand.
Mr Aiyer narrated the gathering that one day he thought to ascertain the news events happened on the day he was born. And to find out the record in this regard, he went to the library section of a national daily where he found that on the day of his birth i. e on April 10, 1941, lead story of the newspaper issue on that day was about rousing reception accorded to Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, by then top Dravidian leader E V Periyar Ramasami, who was very clear about the concept of a separate nation, comprising Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada areas, roughly corresponding to the then existing Madras Presidency with adjoining areas into a federation. Periyar supported Muslim League’s demand for a separate Pakistan and in return, he received sympathy and support from Mohammad Ali Jinnah for his views on separate Dravid Nadu. Both of them decided to convene a movement to resist the Congress, which was then spearheading the Indian freedom struggle from British Raj.
Even after India got freedom and Tamil Nadu became one of the States of Indian Union, Periyar kept raising his voice for separate identity of Tamils. However, it is the strength of India’s unity in diversity and art of taking all together that despite acknowledging Periyar as tallest Dravidian leader, no one today even thinks of Tamil Nadu’s separation from Indian Union.
Taking a cue from this historic fact, those who feel that Jammu and Kashmir will continue to remain a battlefield between Indian forces and Azadi brigade, particularly in view of the fact that two nuclear powers are party to the dispute, should not feel pessimistic over the political initiatives for confidence building measures aimed at restoration of peace in the militancy infested border State. Despite all odds, dialogue is the only solution to resolve the issues and hence talks must go on even if there seems no immediate breakthrough.
The appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as Centre’s Interlocutor on Kashmir and his ongoing visit to Jammu and Kashmir for ascertaining the view points of all stakeholders is a welcome initiative of the Modi Government, which also seems to have realized that rigidity and iron fist would not help in establishing peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
The shilly-shallying of Hurriyat Conference and other separatists in coming forward for talks can be well understood because of their rigidity on contentious demands and convention of taking dictates from across the border. However, the mainstream opposition parties are also not very enthusiastic of the fresh political initiative because of zero results of earlier such exercises even as they were at the helm of affairs that time and till recently had been criticizing the Modi Government for not initiating the dialogue process. Since every political party, whether mainstream or separatist, has own agenda and view point on Kashmir imbroglio, it is not an easy task for the Interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma to reach to a conclusion after a few rounds of dialogue with the stakeholders.
Any prejudice over the initiative and solution will only deter the political initiative from evolving some consensus, which will finally set the stage for return of normalcy to Jammu and Kashmir State that has been facing bloodshed for the last more than 27 years.
Return of peace is imperative for development in Jammu and Kashmir and initiating a dialogue with all sections of society without preconditions is the only way forward. No more delay should be done on this account by all the stakeholders, particularly separatists, who also need to think out of box keeping in view of changed global scenario and unanimity for zero tolerance against any all kinds of terrorism.
Sincerity, determination and consistency can make the things possible, which seem to be impossible as of now and the future students of Conflict Resolution subject may quote the instance of J&K getting resolved peacefully like the case study of Tamil Nadu of Periyar.