In his speech on 15 August, this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urged a more conciliatory approach towards troubled Kashmir and emphasized that problems can be solved only by “embracing” the people of Kashmir. His statement was received positively by the observers who believed that the moment will mark a shift in the policy of the central government vis-a-vis Kashmir.
Then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his recent visit to Kashmir Valley talked about dialogue as the means to resolve all problems raising hopes among the people for the stability in the region. The remarks of Singh were appreciated by all the stakeholders.
The statements from the Union government evidently reflect a marked shift in its Kashmir policy. One can glean from these statements that India has agreed to initiate the political process in Kashmir to settle down the imbroglio and move away from the military measures which are in place after the outbreak of insurgency in the valley.
The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) welcomes the political measures in Kashmir and it has been striving for the same since 2002 when the former chief minister late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed advocated the uninterrupted political dialogue with all the stakeholders of the disputed region.
The dialogue which was initiated under the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with separatists and Pakistan was later brought to a grinding halt by successive regimes for various reasons. Better late than never! As the central government has agreed to start the political process in the region, the government needs to pick up the threads from the point where it was stalled.
The enduring conflict has brutally shaken the people of the valley and has left them scarred them beyond repair. They are fed up with the unending cycle of violence and bloodshed that has only seen them shouldering the coffins of their loved ones.
As the state government is hoping for the resumption of dialogue by New Delhi it has already started expediting the developmental and infrastructural works in the region to minimize the grievances of people. Macadamization of far-flung areas is taking place, health care and educational sectors are on the priority list of the government and many other projects are in the offing.
But all of it can only bring cheers on the faces of people when there is a permanent political settlement of the pending issues for which the New Delhi must take bold and significant steps.
The New Delhi must retain the credibility of its statements and execute the commitments written in the “Agenda of Alliance”. Both the alliance partners need to grab the opportunity and become the agents of peace in the gloomy valley.
The main stakeholders, separatists might have a contrasting ideology but New Delhi must start the interrupted dialogue with them as difference in ideologies is vital for the flourishing of democracy. One can differ with them but certainly can’t ignore them as they have a say in the public domain.
In the interest of common people separatist leaders also have to bring a change in their approach. They have to give chance to the same process which they supported in 2002. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Mohammad Yaseen Malik has on record acknowledged how he tried to convince militant leadership in Pakistan to give peace process a chance.
Now once again the joint separatist leadership has to demonstrate political maturity by creating a conducive atmosphere for dialogue.
Mehbooba Mufti-led government is working tirelessly and with dedication for the restoration of peace in the valley. Chief Minister is herself hopeful about the restoration of peace. But the responsibility lies on New Delhi to play their role for it.
There has been a history of trust deficit between New Delhi and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. As the Prime Minster and Union Home minster this time toned down the rhetoric and assured to reach out to the aggrieved class in Kashmir, it is high time for New Delhi to retain its credibility and think out of the box to reclaim the peace in the troubled region which has consumed thousands of lies so far.
(The author is Media Analyst for J&K Government, views are personal)