The Centre must take immediate steps to revive and reconstitute the National Integration Council, a body comprising prominent citizens and representatives of various political parties to take stock of sensitive matters in the country. The NIC offers a mechanism to reach out to aggrieved sections of society and has larger acceptance on account of its composition, which has an extensively wide base. It is an instrument if effectively used could defuse tense and crisis situations like the one which exists in Kashmir today.
The Central government, as is well known, was groping in the dark on how to deal with the escalating Kashmir problem and had thus convened an all party meet on Friday to address the myriad issues. There was absolute lack of clarity on amicably resolving complex matters, particularly after a section of the valley is attempting to send a message that they would want to disown India. Evidently, it is a herculean task to overcome this hurdle, given that our Parliament has time and again reiterated that Kashmir is an integral part of this country and it is a non-negotiable issue.
The current happenings in Kashmir have been triggered by planned and well executed manoeuvres from across the border. It is common knowledge that Pakistan has been instigating a sizable number of Kashmiri groups to openly revolt against India. Burhan Wani, whose killing in an encounter became the catalyst for the latest round of violence in parts of the strife ridden border state, was also trained and inspired by Pakistan’s Inter State Intelligence (ISI). His death is being portrayed as an act of martyrdom, but what is more dangerous is that his message emphasising the need for the Kashmiris to move away from India is finding resonance amongst the misguided youth in the valley. Since 8 July, nearly 60 people have died in the violence and many have been wounded, some sustaining pellet injuries on their faces. Kashmir is on the boil and the present scenario has to be realistically understood and not merely through the prism of our intelligence agencies or the political representatives of various parties, who have a fetish for flip flopping and doublespeak. The solution to Kashmir does not lie merely by pursuing a military strategy but by confronting the issue with sincerity. Sincerity does not have to be confined to negotiators on the Indian side but should come through in the resolve of the Kashmiri people.
Unfortunately, the Kashmiris also speak in various voices. The Pandits who left the Valley and were rendered homeless have their own story to narrate. Their view of how to reach a settlement is different from those who are still living there. The two main political parties of the Valley, namely the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) continue to talk with a forked tongue. Their utterances for the rest of the country are in variance with what they express to those who live within the state. The Hurriyat leaders are a law unto themselves. They have no electoral legitimacy, but derive their strength from the money muscle they have acquired, thanks to the intelligence agencies on both sides of the border.
The importance of the Hurriayat leaders is reflected in their deceptive stances and their threatening postures. They believe in not only buttering both sides of their bread, but also spreading jam on it. The Indian establishment needs to first sort out things with the Hurriayat leaders and deal with things with political astuteness. The present government in Jammu and Kashmir is the result of an extremely unnatural alliance between ideologically opposite parties. One wishes to consolidate its base in Jammu given that it has little chance of making its presence felt elsewhere, while the other wants to hold sway over the people in the Valley.
The misfortune of the state is that there are many families who have acquired immense wealth over a period of time due to their proximity to the various Central governments. They have a good rapport with the intelligence agencies which have unaccounted money at their disposal and believe that they can buy the loyalty of the people. Despite spending so much, there seem to be no results, because those who have been receiving want to milk New Delhi as much as they can, and those who are channels for distribution of money also continue to fool themselves that they are doing the right thing. The common people have been mesmerised by vested interests on both sides to believe in various kinds of stories fed to them in a Goebbelsian fashion by their leaders, some elected and others prancing around with no accountability.
The all party meet is at best an attempt by the government to involve everyone else in an exercise that would not lead to any solution. Political parties other than those who have presence in Kashmir would use it as a tool for improving their poll prospects in their respective strongholds. The parties that have a presence will not face the truth.
The misfortune of such an activity is that it would yield no results. Those who go to the valley to have a dialogue should know who they should speak to besides the elected government. The Centre needs a clear vision on this front. The advantage of an NIC would have been that there could have been people outside the political system but in civil society who could have shown the path. Kashmir is on the brink of disintegration and the solution is nowhere in sight. Between us.