Saturday, March 23, 2019
 
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Mr. Prime Minister , Spare a Moment For Jammu and Kashmir




B L Saraf





Now that he has entered the penultimate phase of his rule as Prime Minister of the country and the electoral reverses suffered by the BJP in its bastion staring eyes , we trust , Narrandra Modi must be in introspection mood : pondering over how much he has achieved and what went wrong in the way . We do hope that, in the ruminative mood , he must have spared a thought or two for the warning signals that come ( have been coming ) loud and clear from Jammu and Kashmir . Political analysts are on the job to find out reasons for BJP’s electoral defeat in the five states that went to polls, recently . Some attribute these reverses to dissatisfaction of the aspirational youth – who stood with Modi in 2014 – economic slowdown , farm distress , excessive emphasis on non - issues like ‘ macho- nationalism ‘ etc . We leave the matter to further analysis . Our concern at the moment is to find ways and means to rescue the failing situation, in J & K , from further deterioration.


Kashmir is plunged in violence and a new low down has set in . Confusion, all over, rules supreme . In May 2014, when Modi took over as Prime Minister of the country J & K had an elected government in place , brought about by Assembly elections based on more than 45 vote percentage . That government yielded place to new one ,in the Spring 2015 , which came into being consequent upon formation of new Assembly that too had a substantial vote base , across the State . Today , when Modi is nearing his term we have neither a popular government nor the Assembly in existence , here . That surely raises a concern .


West Pakistan refugees , POK displaced and KPs in exile , like most of the voters in the mainland , had pinned high hopes on Narrandra Modi . The issues that confronted them , however , remain as unaddressed today as they were in 2014 when he came to power in New Delhi .


J &K is under Governor’s rule , presently . In the beginning people had a sigh of relief on Governor assuming charge of the administration . Soon thereafter , a wide gap developed between populace and the administration . There is a political dissonance which has resulted in so many miscalculations .


Governor Satya Pal Malik appears to be a well intentioned person - albeit in hurry . Some of his decisions have come in for an avoidable criticism . In the prevailing fluid situation ,where everything is seen with a suspecting eye , it is better to avoid taking such decisions which may be perceived as an exercise in re-organization of the State . Ladakh has serious issues to contend with . They surely need to be redressed . But then other regions and the sub - regions too have many issues’ that require immediate attention . A duly elected government is, rather , best suited than the Governor’s administration to decide upon these matters .


It is the time when Prime Minister Narrandra Modi should have a look at what is happening in Kashmir and assess has the policy which essentially veers round a gun paid any dividend ? We must remember that there exists a substantial group in Kashmir that is not averse to the State’s relationship with India but want gun to be silenced . They see de-escalation of violence as an axis central to their peaceful living . That group needs to enlarged by , at least ,minimizing the scale of violence against unarmed civilians . The recent killings of half a dozen civilians in Pulwama has, besides grabbing headlines in the media across the Continent , frightened the group . The opportunistic politics of the local mainstream political actor has made life no better for the people .



Kashmir is suffering from a long period of political uncertainty . Fall of the popular government in the month of June , aborted attempts at formation of an alternate government , the dissolution of Assembly and opportunistic pressure tactics of the Valley centric political parties have created a negative sentiment which has added to the prevailing uncertainty. The recent killings of the civilians have impacted the local sentiment and generated negativity .


No doubt , the security forces have turned heat on the terrorists this year . Their causalities have been recorded highest in the recent times. But these eliminations have pushed many a young and educated Kashmiris to militancy . The sentiment as also the trend must be reversed . Given the present political instability , task seems to be daunting .Declaration of Assembly election schedule may be of some help .The center’s interlocutor Dineswar Sharma must keep up his job of maintaining the back channel intact .


It is good to stand firm on the matters of governance but certainly it doesn’t pay in the long run not to respond to the feedback and emerging situations . You can’t see everything in absolute terms - not so in Kashmir where we witness shifting situations , on a daily basis . Therefore a nuanced , at times ,accommodative approach is called for . Choice has to be made . We believe Narrandra Modi is capable of making a right choice even now only if keeps his ‘so called ‘ Kashmir experts ‘ at a bay .

True , it is unfair to bring every wrong done in Kashmir to the door of Modi . The problem is endemic . However , he had an opportunity to endear himself to the Kashmiris if he could remove the scars of 2014 floods which till day have not healed . Many Kashmir saw in Modi a builder in view of his reputation he had earned in rebuilding Kuch which was devastated by a massive earthquake .
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There is still time to reclaim that reputation . Yes , given the complex nature of the problem many in Kashmir won’t take it as ‘ aspirational satisfaction but to some it would mean relief from a calamity . PM Modi may look to the State along with its people , particularly to Kashmir, as an animate part of the country and not look at it as a mere extension of India’s geographic boundary . The look should have a fragrance of sensitivity .


(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- [email protected] )



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