Normalize Kashmir

B L Saraf
Article 370, in essence, and Article 35 A, in the entirety, have been laid to the rest – never to be resuscitated to the life – unless some Divine intervention takes place via Supreme Court. But then there is the life for an ordinary resident of the state to live -and live it well. For some, these constitutional changes are well come while as for others it is the fait accompli. In both cases it is time to bid farewell to the polemics witnessed prior to their burial.
It is for more than a month that in Kashmir people haven’t lived a normal life. They can’t enjoy various facilities which people outside the Valley do. Jammu too has suffered some abnormality. Reasons for the abnormality are well known. So, they can’t bear repetition.
It may be a matter of some satisfaction for us that world, by large, has not fallen to the Pakistani rants, made about Kashmir situation that emerged after August 5th constitutional developments. India has been able to allay international concerns and under play J K’s geopolitical dimensions. But the country could do well to make a note that for the first time, since 2000, Kashmir has drawn attention of many of the US lawmakers, including the democratic Presidential hopeful, Bernie Sanders. So have some influential people in England made some noise. The observations of UNHR Council Report on Kashmir have done no favor to India.
It does not auger well for our country that Kashmir issue which the U NO, in not so distant past, was about to weed out from its records and throw off the table is seriously making rounds in various bodies of this World Organization. We have the mortification to hear “words of advice on respect for Human Rights in Kashmir ” from some important countries whose own record, in this regard, is quite dismal.
For a country like India which aspires to be a player in global economic and political arena, even a an unpleasant murmur about happenings within should be a matter of concern. It is true that nations across the globe are so engrossed in protecting their economic and political interests that they find very little time to poke into the affairs of others. But that should not blind India to its own responsibilities as a mature,pluralistic and a vibrant democratic nation. India can’t be China, North Korea or for that matter Israel, in certain aspects. The new found attentiveness towards Kashmir can be deflected, well, when the Valley becomes normal- or at least has some semblances of the normality.
NSA Ajit Doval’s argument that normality in Kashmir depends up on Pakistan’s interference ending surprises many.If the action of August 5th was meant to cement further constitutional relations between the Centre and state of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan is left with no role in the matter. And, certainly, normality in Kashmir can’t be made dependent upon Pakistan -which in no case will cooperate in peace keeping effort in the Valley. The present violent turmoil is largely due to its evil machinations, unveiled in the deadliest form since 1990.
It is good that GOI is currently planning to develop J&K – particularly Kashmir in a massive way. However, economic development alone will not work. Because, the earlier premise that poverty and ignorance were the root causes of terrorism no more holds good. Research done in America, subsequent to the 9/11 terrorist attack on trade towers, establishes that the terrorists involved in the deadly attack were highly educated and had a rich economic back ground. Secondly, Kashmir was not so miserably impoverished nor were Kashmiri as roofless as citizens of the rest of the country. People in the Valley may not have enjoyed a seven course meal but none slept empty bellied or roofless, either. Similarly, RTE or no RTE people in the state enjoyed free education up to the post graduate level, since 1953. There is no report, till now, that a farmer has committed suicide on a matter related to his occupation.
J&K’s anti-corruption law was far ahead of times and could be a role model for rest of the country. It had a provision of pre trial confiscation of property even remotely suspected to be the fruit of undue riches of a culprit, public official or his private accomplice.
It is understandable that Kashmiris feel hurt and let down. There is immediate need to assuage their hurt feelings. GOI must go beyond economic angle and devise other means to mollify the agitated people, in right earnestness. Also, for people in the Valley it is worth understanding : how long will they go on with the ” self inflicting punishment syndrome”. By shutting down business and the other worldly activities in the Valley they punish only themselves and none else. There is no wisdom in self flogging, or continue with a protest which will ultimately destroy the protestor himself. There are various democratic and constitutional ways available to register the dissent and have the say recorded and redressed.
As said earlier, people in Jammu also have some issues, thrown up by the recent developments which have been flagged by them time and again. The interests of unemployed youth, here, need to be protected. Similarly,some statutory safeguard must be there to protect agricultural holdings of a small and marginal farmer. Jammu traders have been badly affected by the Kashmir shut down. Their millions of rupees have got stuck, with no hope of immediate redemption. State Administration must have this in mind.
In the whole process, there is no hint of any redressel of the existential issues faced by the displaced Pandits. We hear no word about their return to and rehabilitation in the homeland. Similarly, no action seems on anvil to implement the left over part of PM’s employment package, announced in 2008. Over aged displaced youth see no future ahead. Previous state administrations had talked about granting one time compensation to this category of the unemployed. Immediate action is required on the part of administration to secure their future. The community’s civilization and spiritual sign posts – Temples and shrines in Kashmir – are in a pathetic state. They call for statutory protection and a democratic management, lest they are completely wiped out.
Nonetheless, the displaced community hasn’t given up hope. They feel sanguine that sooner than latter justice will be done to their cause by the Central Government, in tandem with the Governor’s administration.
(The author is former Principal District & Sessions Judge)