People crave for promised political governance

Ashok Bhan
Jammu and Kashmir is the most delicate state in the Union of India; it requires to be handled with great care, with regard to every nuance of every political development. Deciding about the fate of the State and Kashmir in particular by Government of India without taking on board all the stake holders and without due deliberation amounts to behave as a bull would in a China shop.
In the present times unlike past,the situation in Kashmir is; the Islamic fundamentalism has greater appeal and appeal of Pakistan which was noticeably weak has also become strong.Still the craving/longing for the strengthening of Kashmiri sub-nationalism is gaining ground in view of the realization after huge sufferings,that evicting India from Kashmir is humanly impossible and there are no takers for such agenda at geo-political levels. Kashmiri population at the societal level has the sense and understanding that; Pakistan and separatism have failed them and brought about only death and destruction.
The J&K State,consisted of its distinct entities in five separate regions with nothing common with each other.The hill areas of Gilgit, Baltistan and Skardu and the punjabi-speaking areas of Muzzaferabad etc; are with Pakistan.In our part of the State,there are three divisions- namely;- Hindu dominated Jammu, Suni Muslim dominated Kashmir, and Buddhist and Shia populated Ladakh. India integrated these diverse divisions as the  mosaic of different ethnic, religious and tribal groups and united these together in a culture of mutual tolerance and creative interaction as a plural and democratic State.Unfortunately it has got engulfed in the worst phase of intolerance and distortion by the self-serving myths of competing political interests.
After long spell of militancy, despondency and cynicism ,the 2014 elections in J&K had brought in hope of democracy and aspiration of economic well being  in the people, and particularly the youth of Kashmir valley – that they would benefit from the democratic polity,the economic development and progress promised Prime Minister Modi to the aspiring young India,after his massive election victory in the Country.  The youth of Kashmir in particular got inspired and joined the mainstream agenda by a larger participation in the elections.  People decided to give peace and positive economic development agenda a priority and through their large participation in the elections, defeated all the incumbent ministers and the previous Government.  Such was the fervor of hope and positive participation.
It was expected, after the formation of the PDP-BJP coalition government, that it would follow a policy of containment, to limit and scale down the violence and open a peace process with inclusive political discourse and also bring in the economic prosperity through uniform and sustained development and open up avenues of employment for the youth.  The Government rose to the power behind these expectations of the people.
At the time of the swearing in ceremony of the Government, the galaxy of tall BJP leaders and the PM Modi flew in to greet and welcome Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as Chief Minister, and his team.  But, unfortunately, the bonhomie of swearing in evaporated immediately. Late Mufti did a monumental mistake of praising Pakistan and the separatists for the success in the elections that earned him displeasure and a discreet reprimand from New Delhi.  The release and re-arrest of a youth separatist leader after his long incarceration multiplied the problems for Mufti and he was branded by the media, and sections of BJP, as a soft separatist leader. It is said he indulged in appeasement of the negative elements by misplaced political ambivalence.  BJP is said to have aligned with late Mufti primarily for his acknowledged nationalist credentials. Mufti’s conscious or unconscious mistake cost him dear.
To make up on the mistakes and his passion for promised  smart governance CM Mufti worked very hard despite his fragile health.He was busy meeting the aggrieved and needy sections and also met a representative team of exiled Kashmiri Pandits in Delhi along with Ram Madav,late Mufti was assuring to the Pandits. He asked for liberal financial aid to the State which was granted too late.He burnt his candle from both the sides and unfortunately his end came soon.
The disappointment in the people had already set in,  Lack of governance, broken promises, intra-regional conflict, the pernicious  propaganda biz of fringe elements and contradictions – both, political and ideological within the government – contributed for the despair and disappointment of people that prevails even now.
The pro-Pakistan sentiment which had lost out and marginalized was replaced by positive hope and modern economic development agenda, but again that did not come true.  The smart governance and space for battle of ideas was promised by the coalition Government.  Neither the semblance of governance nor the space for any ideas  was visible. Instead the radicalized political discourse and violence  replaced  the civility, sanity and tolerant socio- political space. Resurgence of intolerance and violence is a cause of great concern to peace loving citizens and the civil society.
The revival of militant activity in the state and elsewhere is a serious issue and a grim reminder to all concerned that the militant outfits are still present and active to strike any time and anywhere.
Pakistan-based terrorist outfits are carrying out assaults with greater military precision than past,resulting in more casualties both civilians and armed force personnel.This is aimed at ridiculing the Indian establishment. The Gurdaspur, Pathankote and now Pampore incidents reflect the elements of grand strategy.  Though the public support to militancy had considerably reduced but it has not disappeared. The phenomenon of terror, panic and disinformation is back in the valley.  Security scenario, both inwardly and on the border is not very assuring.  Darker clouds of uncertainty are on the horizon.The militancy is on the rise.Huge participation in the funerals of the slain militants is worrying and disappointing.  It reflects the people”s subtle if not the express support to the revival of militancy.
To defeat the enemies of people, the civil society has to once again rise to the occasion and defend the peace process and development agenda with a caveat that the Government must ensure that the fruits of development reach out to every deserving citizen.  The elections and the subsequent formation of PDP-BJP coalition government has thrown up very limited choice. People accepted it ,as long as going was good.WHAT ABOUT AS OF NOW—?
The People are clue less as to how long the Governor rule shall continue.A poser is making the rounds in the political circles in Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir,as to when the elected Government shall be formed-? .  The State and the country are worried and concerned about the current political, economic and security affairs of the State.I strongly feel as more time pass, the trust deficit between the two major partners PDP and BJP is bound to reach a dead end, that would be the dark day for democracy in the State and betrayal of people”s votes.
There may have been teething problems both political and ideological between PDP and BJP and with the Central Government for quite some time in the past but  in the changed context those must be sorted out by rising above party interests by both Parties.
The new political situation calls for PM Modi”s intervention himself together with his team and   take a call that in the event PDP is not agreeable to ally with BJP;- then the new perspective is gaining currency  that;-“Is this not the opportune time to look for collective and inclusive leadership of other political elements representing all the sections- as an alternative in the larger interests of the State and the Country.? Or else go for the fresh election after six months. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has time and again flagged the  promises of hope, peace, co-existence and a massive economic development .While people are anxiously waiting for economic welfare of the people, Eyes are also set on the PM Modi to act as a tall leader of the Country for promoting peace process through meaningful dialogue and invite all the stakeholders.
Doors may be opened for talks with those elements and groups also who have, for some reason, chosen to remain outside the democratic mainstream of the country.  It is expected that PM Modi will recall his assurance reiterated in his speech during the campaigning of Assembly Election of 2014 that : “We will talk to every section including the Kashmiri Pandits within the ambit of Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat”.
The most important issue to timely deal with is ;-Issue of exiled” Kashmiri Pandits”.The current phase of their exile is leading towards the most calamitous misfortune.They are longing to return to their Home-Land. This illustrious community is disintegrating fast and the rootlessness is colossally traumatizing.It is now or never syndrome. There has to be a concrete plan and decision to facilitate secured,dignified return and rehabilitation of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits population back in the valley Without the physical presence of Pandits in the Valley, Kashmir is incomplete as a civilization and a society.Without them being in the Valley the peace is bound to elude and political turmoil to continue.Kashmir continues to be and shall ever remain integral part of Union Of India,but how come without Kashmiri Pandits,would always be a sad reflection on the” Political Will” of the Nation State of India and the people of the State.
The intra-regional cohesion  is in jeopardy and balance of power and resources within the three regions of the State has questionable imbalances;
The gulf between Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi needs to be bridged.Jammu and Kashmir  valley is on different orbits rather than part of the same State.The political uncertainty in the State has become part of grand militant strategy.The political leadership has to take a call that State does not slip back into the olden abyss.Therefore the leadership in Delhi and Srinagar has to be on the same page to work together with focus on the affairs of the State rather than their own predispositions.
(The author is Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, a political analyst & Chairman, Kashmir Policy & Strategy Group)


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