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Kashmir’s ordeals and strivings for peace and stability

Friday, October 06, 2017

Are terror attacks on the decline in Kashmir, as BSF snuff out a recent one

The terrorist attack at the 182 battalion headquarters of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Srinagar has been constricted in intensity. All terrorists have been slain by the BSF with alacrity. Even then, a BSF officer was killed and three BSF soldiers injured, in the response to snuff out the terrorists. As reported, the original target of the attack was the Srinagar airport. But, it appears that the attackers were intercepted in good time. The continuing circle of attacks and counterattacks in Kashmir is not at all a new phenomenon. It increases and ebbs. Nevertheless, has the scale decreased?      
The past year saw increased violence in Kashmir. There were repeated terror attacks. A rather daring one was an attack at an Indian army camp at Uri in September, 2016. In retaliation, the Indian army staged a successful counter attack on terror camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). India followed it up by launching diplomatic and political offensives against Pakistan. Despite contrary opinions, global awareness and support for India’s viewpoint regarding Pakistani support to anti-Indian terrorists as foreign policy instruments and that country being an adherent for sundry other terrorist outfits have discernibly increased than before. Even then terror attacks continued intermittently. A crucial narrative surrounding Kashmir points to the pressing need of decelerating the anti-Indian tempo, still prevailing among a notable section of the populace of the Kashmir valley.

Certain lacunae endure in J & K
The central government and the state government of Jammu & Kashmir appear to be striving to bring the state’s narrative in tune with that of the rest of the country. Nevertheless, certain lacunae continue to endure. Steps have being taken and are being taken to look into the pressing needs of development which would be in harmony with the state’s ecosystem. But, a look-in into making opportunities for most people of the state to repose more confidence on the state machinery still require more concentration. It is inevitable to the thoughtful that the essential outburst of terrorism was the aftermath of the crushing poverty, lack of development programmes as occurred in the rest of the country, a psychological feeling of being separate from the country, and above all increasing accusation of maladministration.   

History is witness to Kashmir’s complete integration into the Indian union. It is an established fact despite expressed refutations to the contrary.  But, for far too long the state’s political process has gone awry. Special provisions were initially made; the reasons for which still eludes rational thought. Gradually those unnecessary provisions were done away with. But, what was needed was an impeccable administration. What the electorate of the state got in return were large bouts of high-handedness, socio-economic degeneration and political arbitrariness. They patiently endured it all, while discontent continued to simmer and rise. Then came news of the theft of the holy relic from the Hazratbal Shrine at Srinagar in the last week of December, 1963.        

It struck certain emotional chords. The people erupted in frenzy. What was notable was a keen feeling of togetherness among many Hindus and Muslims, surrounding the incident. There were violent protests against the state government. Furthermore, the people were demanding urgent action from the central government, and expressed great confidence and hope from the central government in that that it would act in bona fide and look into the pent up woes of the people of the state. Through central government intervention the holy relic was recovered. The state’s then ruler Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was also removed from power sooner than later.

The entire episode had a keen pointer. The people of the state, despite contrary propaganda from Pakistan and the then keen indulgence from the Western powers - primarily United States and United Kingdom - wanted further identification with India. The governing structure and political culture was potentially preventing them from it. 

Some years passed. Then, in 1973 there was the Kashmir accord, signed by then Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi and the towering leader of Kahsmir, Sheikh Abdullah. It finally put aside scope for plebiscite of the portion of Kashmir which is part of India. It also changed the title of the ruler of the state from premiere that of chief minister – as was and is of all other state rulers of the country. Sheikh Abdullah was made the chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir following the accord. For the next several years the social and political situation was placid. But, it appears that the administration was often lackadaisical to the economic plight of the people, who had been suffering badly on that front since about 1947.

Abrasiveness and highhandedness
In the rest of the country also it was a time of socialist economics. Numerous undesired checks and control across the economy had stifled entrepreneurship and revenue and employment generation. Additionally, it bred financial corruption. But, in Kashmir the situation was even worse. That along with political abrasiveness and highhandedness led to the eruption of the social volcano from January, 1990.

Since then, it has been an intermittent saga of violence, hatred, bemoaning, killings, anger, grief and disgust. After nearly three decades of such welter, the people and the governing authorities have probably come around to realize that all of that was for naught. But, to reverse the direction of events completely would probably take some more time.   

Impeccable administration and sincere endeavours for social and economic amelioration would go a long way to usher in peace, stability and prosperity across Kashmir. Till then, the better the administration manages its work, the lesser, if not completely avoidable, would be the unnecessary loss of precious lives and prevention of violence.        

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