Governor’s Olive Branch

B L Saraf
Ice is set to be broken. We hope so! Though feeble, the indication is quite audible. In the prevailing mood of despondency the development is, truly, heartwarming. Governor, as a spokesman of the Centre, has batted for the reconciliation which may allow the eluding peace to hold on to the ground, rather permanently.
After dumping the Mehbooa Mufti led PDP-BJP coalition Government in August last year, Modi led NDA Government went hard after the armed terrorists in Kashmir. In between, the compulsions of winning an election game, generated by the intervention of lok Sabah election, hardened this attitude. No doubt the policy did pay dividends in as much as hundreds of hard core terrorists were accounted for. But it will be too amateurish to claim that the ghost of the terrorism has been exercised, finally. Nowhere in the world has military option alone succeeded to kill the sentiment of militancy. Something more needs to be done, side by side, which calls for devising a parallel strategy to supplement the military effort.
The 2019 Lok sabha election gave a decisive mandate to PM Narendra Modi to fulfill his promises made to the countrymen. One of his promises was to put J&K back on rails, address the grievances and give a sense of relief and closure to the beleaguered people. We get the indication that PM is underway to redeem the promise. That probably explains the unfolding of what observers call, Plan B, which, primarily, rests on the reconciliation aspect. We see a shift in policy employed so far. That indeed is a welcome development and must be pursued till it bears fruit.
It can’t be the coincidence that Interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma suddenly surfaces in Raj Bhawan a day earlier to the Governor’s press conference. That has raised a hope that some sort of reconciliatory move is on the anvil. Sharma is reported to have told media, ” I am back on the job.”. Good luck to him.
Governor Satya Pal Malik set out certain contours of a policy and asked militants to give up arms and invited them to the talks. Speaking to the media, a few days back, Governor sought to allay apprehensions about delimitation of the Assembly Constituencies in the state. He said “Delimitation cannot be done in a day. It is a Constitutional matter.
These are all rumors.” He cleared the air on fears, expressed by some in the State that Centre was working towards abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A. The Governor said these were in the election manifestos of so many political parties. There is “No need to worry”, he assured the people.
We have reason to feel assured when Governor says “Take everything from us, we will give our life but through love and dialogue. For that PM Modi is ready, we are ready, come to the dialogue table and take it forward. You have your own Constitution, separate flag. What more you want will get it through the democratic process and within the ambit of Indian Constitution.” The ‘ stake holders ” at the other end and the political leadership must respond in adequate measure. They must hold with both hands the Olive Branch extended by the Centre.
Soon after Narendra Modi took over as PM for the second time, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq expressed satisfaction and hoped he will address the K issue. Governor Malik has set the ball rolling. Hurriyat must take the call. Malik said many things when he told media that he was not authorized to invite the separatist leaders. But has shown respect for them, with the caveat that they should desist from raising their voices on wrong issues.
The importance of the press conference lies in the fact that there are quite a few but significant take aways from it. For example; there will be no tinkering with the Constitutional provisions which acknowledge State’s special position within the Indian Union.
That delimitation of the Assembly Constituencies is subject to the Constitutional provisions and that there is no hurry to advance the process; that present Central Government has a regard for State’s Flag and the Constitution. This statement should sooth sentiments of many in the Valley.
Reconciliation is indeed a daunting task. It is a patience game marked by honesty of the purpose. Actors involved must demonstrate it in the larger interests of all.
There is no denying that the terrorists will not yield to the peace overtures. They have their own nefarious plan drawn out in Pakistan. Their attack on CRPF in Anantnag the day after Malik came out with the peace gesture show that the terrorists are hell bent to disrupt dialogue and the peace process. Government must hold the nerve and allow Plan B to go parallel with relentless drive against the armed militants.
As usual Kheer Bhawani festival saw a great deal of religious activity. Alongside, Political activity was also on the view. Farooq Abdullah, Shah Faisal and some others greeted the Pandit Yatris.
It is a good thing that the taboo has been broken. A Pandit delegation called on Mirwaiz Ummer Farooq. The reports say that it was an encouraging development. State action is required to bring calm and make situation conducive for the displaced Pandits to return to their homes. But for a smooth living mutual confidence of communities living in Kashmir is the best guarantee. To achieve the desired purpose people to people contact is essential.
It is encouraging to note that developments that will take shape, henceforth, in the state will be directly monitored by PM Narendra Modi. We say so on the authority of the Governor: as he told the press ” We are under the scanner of Centre and the Prime Minister. You can rest assured that a beginning has been made.”
(The author is former Principal District and Sessions Judge)