14 September 2016

Will Modi’s Approach Bring Peace To Kashmir? – OpEd

SEPTEMBER 11, 2016

For the last seventy years, Kashmir has been seeing agitations and unrest by a section of people who have failed to distinguish between religion and state. Such agitations could only cause fritters, with agitators not succeeding in their efforts to separate Kashmir from India or merge Kashmir with Pakistan. Obviously, this scenario highlights the ground reality that the vast majority of people in Kashmir are not participants in such agitations but remain as silent and helpless majority.

Past governments of India have been trying to handle the turbulent conditions in Kashmir with stick and carrot approach but have not been successful in effectively silencing the separatists and isolating them.

Similar to the incidents in the past few days, Kashmir has witnessed prolonged agitations for many days several times in the past ,which ultimately ended on it’s own after exhausting the steam. In the same way, the present unrest conditions will also quieten down sooner or later and perhaps, sooner than later.

Obviously, the separatists in Kashmir get support and encouragement from across the border and from other sources to sustain their agitations and such external forces who are motivated by the thinking that Kashmir should be a muslim country since it has majority of Muslims in Kashmir population. The recent jihadi threats and activities of ISIS extremists across the world seem to be giving fresh hopes to the separatists in Kashmir and their friends abroad.
What could be Mr. Modi’s strategy?

Mr. Modi has to find a solution for the Kashmir tangle once for all by working out some short term and long term strategies and plans, in tune with the ground realities in Kashmir and aspirations of the people.

No government in any country can allow a situation where separatists who want to split the country hold sway, which mean effectively uprooting the solidarity and sovereignty of the state. Therefore, there would be no question of Modi government submitting to the threats and demands of the separatists.

Obviously, one of the strategies of Modi government is to have leadership of the provincial government in Kashmir that take strong stand against the separatists and pledges itself to the integrity of India. The present democratically elected Chief Minister of Kashmir has taken a strong stand against separatists, conveying effectively the message to the world that the separatists in Kashmir do not represent the will of the people and have ulterior motives that would not serve the interests of the Kashmir people.

The Modi government is trying to convince the people of Kashmir that it is fair in it’s approach by expressing it’s willingness to speak to the separatists who are Indians and perhaps, misguided ones. This approach of willingness to sit across the table with separatists for discussions will go a long way in building a proactive climate in Kashmir towards peace and stability and strengthen the credibility of Modi government about it’s efforts to bring peace and harmony in the state.

No separatist forces in any country can thrive without being backed with funds and arms by external elements. The flow of funds and arms to the separatists have to be stopped and obviously ,Modi government is not fully successful in doing this so far.

The recent speech of Mr. Modi in the G20 conference in China and ASEAN East Asia summit in Laos clearly indicate that Mr. Modi wants the world to understand that the present violence in Kashmir is in the same pattern as terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world, which are launched by religion based extremists. He appears to have already succeeded in creating such an impression.

If and when the world will view that separatists in Kashmir who indulge in violence are part of the world terrorist activities, it will pave way for weakening the violence prone separatists in Kashmir and isolate them amongs the people.

The youth of Kashmir need to be given hope that their aspirations for social and economic progress can be met by policy and support measures of Modi government. Separate package of schemes are likely to be launched to provide educational and skill acquisition opportunities and job prospects for youth in Kashmir in other parts of India. This will inevitably lead to greater integration of Kashmir with the rest of the country and perhaps, even migration may be encouraged to some extent.
Proactive integrated strategies will improve the conditions

Such proactive integrated strategies of Mr. Modi have the potential to bring about a change for better in the Kashmir situation.

This process appears to have started already and is likely to move on with steady and gradual implementation of the strategies.

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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