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Flawed prescription
Dialogue, peace process under elected govt remedy, not Governor's rule
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The increasing chorus of demand for imposing Governor's rule in Jammu and Kashmir, after the militant attack in which 7 Amarnath pilgrims died, is misplaced and senseless; rather it has an ominous ring to it which the already sensitive state can do without. There is no doubt that the present BJP-PDP coalition government has failed on many fronts in delivering and the situation in the Valley has worsened since this coalition came to power about less than two and a half years ago. It is by and large also an admitted fact that the formation of the unholy alliance between two parties with extremely polarised ideologies played a major role in fuelling Kashmir's anger and bringing it to the point of boil. The PDP, which garnered votes in the name of keeping Hindutva out of the Valley finally entered into an alliance with the Hindutva-espousing BJP and ultimately it lost the trust and confidence of the public. However, it is also important to bear in mind that the alliance worked as a catalyst in hastening the deterioration of Kashmir situation but seeds of discontent and anger in the Valley were already existing due to an unresolved Kashmir issue, unabated human rights abuse and excessive militarization.

The demand for Governor's rule is ludicrous for many reasons and amounts to fitting a square peg in a round hole. Firstly, any change of guard, much less direct central rule under the governor, is not likely to reverse the damage that the formation of the coalition has done to the Valley. Instead, it may at this sensitive juncture hasten the decline and help confound the existing chaos, especially in view of the fact that the law and order situation, as well as the deepening levels of distress, alienation and frustration in the Valley foretell that may not be elections possible in the near future. In April 2017, the Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary constituency witnessed 7 percent polling in the by-polls and the Anantnag assembly constituency elections had to be postponed in view of the security situation. It was a different matter, had the PDP not decided to enter into an alliance with BJP in 2014 itself after the split verdict, and in all probability left the floor open for re-elections under governor's rule. At the present juncture, the possibility of fresh elections seems rather bleak. Therefore, imposition of governor's rule in the present scenario would in most likelihood entail a prolonged extension and is unlikely to help arrest either the alienation of the people or arrest the trend of youth picking up the gun. In any case, the worst of democratically elected government is better than the ablest of governor's rule. In a state like Jammu and Kashmir, the significance of a local government is further enhanced as the state government acts as a buffer between the state and New Delhi. This despite the fact that dynamics of power with respect to this conflict state reveal that it is mostly New Delhi that calls the shots. This also despite the fact that the present central government has adopted a completely rigid posture and a hardline policy with respect to Kashmir, snubbing much of the advice it receives even from the elected state government. All Kashmir based parties including the ruling PDP have advocated a peace process and dialogue, a reference to which also exists in the Agenda of Alliance signed between BJT and PDP at the time of entering into an alliance. However, such demands have been completely snubbed. The deteriorating Kashmir situation today is not only exacerbated by the anger against the formation of alliance but also the contemptuous attitude of the rulers in New Delhi as well as the brazen attempts to alter the idea of India where Hindutva agenda is being pursued by hooligans with the patronage of the Centre. The governor, which for all practical purposes, is a rubber stamp of the Centre, despite his competence and all the sensitivity with respect to Kashmir is unlikely to play a role beyond his constitutional limitations.

Instead of looking for incompatible solutions, Kashmir today is crying for a remedy that is based on holistic understanding of the genesis of the problem in Kashmir. There is need to realise that the problem is exacerbated, not resolved, by a hard-line approach. It requires a process of engagement and political package. The need therefore is for the Centre to strengthen its channels with the Kashmiri public through the local government, howsoever inefficient it may be with all its multiple failures.

News Updated at : Monday, July 17, 2017
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