Raising the Stakes

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Central government’s recently-appointed representative to lead talks in Kashmir has visited the turbulent valley twice, last month. In his first visit, Sharma restricted himself to Srinagar and met with some selected people. However, on his second visit, the former intelligence officer came out of the capital city and made it a point to have direct interaction with the common people. South Kashmir, which has been the main source of discontent since Burhan Wani death in July last year, was his centre of attention. He visited Pulwama and Anantnag, the most rowdy townships. It is quite significant that a number of youth delegations, including both government-sponsored and independent, came forward to tell their story to the central representative. But, as the detailed of these meetings suggested, most of the young boys who met with him, told their personal problems to Sharma. He was told that police had fabricated cases of stone-pelting against them. Sharma is on record to have said, “They are telling me their problems and I am listening. We will see what needs to be done.” It is perhaps after his recommendations that central government sought the state government to withdraw cases of stone pelting against Kashmiri youth. There are no two opinions about the fact that the move would largely help in restoring confidence among people. However, the real issues would still remain unaddressed. Kashmir is not a case of certain individuals with personal egos of problems. It is a baggage the history has left behind. We cannot run away from history merely by wishes or deceit. History needs to be corrected. And the best way to correct the history is to reach out to the people, know their aspirations and respect them. That could never be possible unless historical facts are accepted and acknowledged. It would in no way help if, instead of accepting the historical aspect of the issue, we confuse and distort history. The central representative has said that he would meet with all stake holders. Since, separatist leadership, which could be termed as the main stakeholder, has refused to talk to Sharma, it is premature to comment on the success of centre’s initiative for dialogue. Academically speaking dialogue is the most honourable and the only civilized way to resolve disputes. But a cursory look at New Delhi’s philosophy and politics of dialogue would reveal that institution of dialogue in India is the most corrupt and discredited creation. India has never used dialogue as a means to resolve issues. It rather used it as a means to corrupt people, buy time and loyalties and make those who refuse to fall in line irrelevant. One is not sure where it all would stop but the most positive thing about it is that central government has realized the importance of dialogue. It is, indeed, a major departure of the Modi government from its existing “bring-them-on-knees” policy. Pacifists have, of late, been demanding for a political approach to the Kashmir imbroglio but the Modi-led sarkar showed little interest to oblige them. It rather went up with a whole hog military approach to settle things in Kashmir. But the more pressure did they apply, the more reaction it created. There had been calls from the votaries of dialogue for blending military approach with the political one, which central government was not willing to accept. Appointment of Dinesh Sharma was indeed a surprise package in this context. But the move, in every sense of term, half meets the call. Sharma is a cop with no political experience or background. It would not be unexpected of him to see things from law and order perspective. The Pakistan factor too has not to be ignored. It is most unlikely to seek resolution of Kashmir crises sans Pakistan as it is an equally party to the dispute. New Delhi has to take into consideration all these things to make maximum use of its move.

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