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Militancy in Kashmir- How do we handle it?
By Vappala Balachandran
The BJP government in New Delhi has ignored two important facts in their strategy towards Kashmir:

First, the Valley-Jammu divide which dates back to the pre-Independence era has constantly re-surfaced due to different reasons under changed circumstances. Originally this was not always a Muslim versus Hindu issue. It was more a Jammu versus Valley quarrel. The preponderance of Hindus in Maharaja's regime alienated the Valley Muslims. In 1932 Sheikh Abdullah established "All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference" (AJKMC) for Muslims' rights. In 1939 he changed its name as "National Conference" when a fundamentalist pro-Pakistan group under Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas set up "Muslim Conference" with Jinnah's support. They demanded accession to Pakistan on 22 July, 1947. Sheikh Abdullah wrote in Amrit Bazar Patrika Congress Special Number-1948 "Why Kashmir should join India & not Pakistan". He was imprisoned repeatedly for his campaign against Hari Singh including the "Quit Kashmir" struggle in 1946. Nehru backed Sheik Abdullah's campaigns.

In 1946-47 the Valley-Jammu divide became more acrimonious when the Praja Parishad, the parent body of the present BJP, advocated that a Hindu state should not merge its identity with a "secular India". Those Hindus like the late Balraj Puri, veteran Kashmir politician, who advocated merger with India were branded as "Traitors". Even Gandhiji recognized this sensitivity when he sided with the Valley residents. During his visit to Kashmir on 1 August 1947 he described the "Amritsar Treaty" that gave the Maharajah the legal title to rule Kashmir as a "Sale deed which lapsed with the lapse of paramountcy". He said that the "Sovereignty belonged to the people and not to the ruler".

By and large the Jammu Hindus were not unanimous in supporting merger with India. It was the Kashmiri Muslim leadership that favoured accession to India in 1947. In 2014 that old suspicion has resurfaced when the BJP joined the PDP government although they were bitter rivals earlier.

The second important fact ignored by the BJP government is that no major conflict in the world ending up in insurgency situations like Kashmir could be resolved merely through the use of force. This applies to religious insurgencies like Irish or Sikh, political uprisings like Malayan or Colombian and economic insurrections like Hukbalahap or Mau Mau. Only discreet back channel dialogue had helped in setting up "Confidence Building Measures" (CBM) for lowering the temperature. That is the reason why even retired and serving military commanders have been asking the government to resolve the issue through political dialogue. It is all the more puzzling why the BJP government which is holding back channel dialogue with the Nagas despite their declaration of not recognizing our constitution, has shied away from negotiating with the disgruntled Valley youth. In the absence of any rational explanation, an impression cannot be avoided that this reluctance has much to do with the religious composition in the Valley.

There are some right wing elements in the BJP government who want to adapt the "strong arm strategy" of the Israeli government after 2001 of ignoring the Palestinians. Like the Right Wing in Israel who brands all Palestinian protestors as "terrorists", our own groups want to ignore the Valley youth as "Pakistan Proxies" and crush them. This myopic view should be rejected as a study of the history of Israel-Palestinian conflict would indicate that their sagacious leadership before 2000 had given that country long spells of peace when they had undertaken back channel negotiations with the Palestinians. On the other hand Israel had greatly suffered by abandoning this policy since 28 September 2000 when Ariel Sharon marched provocatively on the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) to insult the Palestinians. Prime Minister Netanyahu has worsened this conflict leading to more Jewish deaths by defiantly increasing the illegal settlements on Palestinian lands.

That the whole of Kashmiri youth is unpatriotic is disproved by the overwhelming response to the Army and police recruitment and their eagerness to join the government. A clever strategy should be to start discreet back channels with such youths and separate them from the pro-Pakistani elements. By not doing this, New Delhi is pushing pro- Indian segment into Pakistan's clutches.

—(Courtesy: PRAJAVANI)

[The writer is a former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat and member of the Maharashtra Government appointed 2-member High Level Committee to enquire into the police response to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. He has authored "National Security & Intelligence Management-A New Paradigm" (2014) and "A Life in shadow -The Secret story of A.C.N. Nambiar, A forgotten Anti-Colonial Warrior (2016)]

News Updated at : Thursday, May 18, 2017
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