The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in consultation with all the “legitimate stakeholders” of Kashmir valley, is working on formulating a new policy to deal with disturbances there. A crucial part of this policy, according to officials, is to stop giving importance to the separatists.
Government officials familiar with the latest development said that for the past 20-25 years, the separatist leaders have been given an important place in discussions between the Centre and the state government on how to improve the situation in the valley, but despite successive Central governments taking them along, the separatists have toed a line that benefits Pakistan, rather than India.
“The new strategy will include giving more representation to local voices and by local voices, we do not mean the separatists, but the local people who are living in the valley. An impetus will also be given to releasing Central funds meant for the valley as soon as possible. The execution of schemes that will be using these funds will be closely monitored by a Central team. Also, you will see a marked difference when it comes to the separatists. Now, we will not be dealing with them as the legitimate voice of the locals, because frankly that has not worked,” an official said.
The MHA is convinced that treating separatist leaders as the “legitimate voice” of the people of the valley has not borne any fruit. “Rather than helping us in any way, they have harmed our interests. Since they have been given unnecessary importance by successive Union governments, these separatists have gained wide acceptance and legitimacy in the international arena,” the official added.
According to MHA officials, the Jammu and Kashmir government has spent close to Rs 560 crore for the “maintenance” of the separatist leaders in the past five years.
This huge amount has been spent on their travel, accommodation in the Kashmir valley, their elaborate security cover and stay in 5-star hotels in New Delhi whenever they come to the national capital for talks with government officials and other foreign dignitaries.
Close to 1,500 police officials have also been deployed as personal security officers and security officers at the residence of these separatist leaders and other “uncategorised political activists” who have a history of promoting separation of Kashmir from India. According to officials, the amount spent on the separatists is from the Security Related Expenditure (SRE), which is provided by the Union Home Ministry. Since the inception of the SRE scheme in 1989, the Centre has released Rs 7,207 crore, including Rs 4,735 crore for police expenditure.