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Only creative, innovative approach can unscramble Kashmir omelette: AVM Kak
Rules out independence, plebiscite options
Shuchismita
JAMMU, Nov 30: Renowned peacenik Air Vice Marshal (retired) Kapil Kak, while ruling out the option of ‘independence’ and `plebiscite’ in J&K, Thursday stated that only a creative, innovative approach “can unscramble Kashmir omelette.”

And to him, this nuanced innovative multi-pronged approach will have the serious, sincere composite dialogue as its first imperative with Hurriyat as the most crucial, among multiple stakeholders of Kashmir problem, necessarily on board.

Second imperative is greater autonomy (which is well within the Constitution of India) to both the parts of J&K, while addressing the grievances of all the regions, predominantly Jammu and Ladakh.

No tinkering with the Article 370 and Article 35-A, withdrawal of draconian laws viz., Disturbed Area Act (DAA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and the establishment of Grievance Redressal mechanism under the Armed Forces Special Power act till it cannot be revoked given the surge in militancy, return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits and re-establishing broken connectivity (opening of new or more appropriately traditional routes) like Skardu, process of involvement of more and more members of civil society, intelligentsia, opinion makers in and outside the state, counselling for youth and creation of democratic spaces within their realm, as available in rest of India to their counterparts to stream out their lava - formed other intrinsic components of innovative approaches to evolve a lasting solution to Kashmir tangle.

His proposed nuanced approach in this direction also required that sooner or later Pakistan too would have to be engaged in the dialogue process to crack an enduring solution to the problem the continuity of which, actually, best serves the interests of neighbouring nation (Pak).

Air Vice Marshal (AVM), who is a prominent rights activist as well, was delivering a public lecture on “Understanding Kashmir’s multiple narratives” organized by the Department of Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu here.

Vice Chancellor University of Jammu Prof R D Sharma presided over the function attended by a distinguished gathering comprising academia, intelligentsia, journalists, senior army officers from 16 Corps, rights/peace activists, police officers, politicians, retired bureaucrats and the students.

He asserted that there was no question of independence for Kashmir and similarly the option of ‘plebiscite’ too is not available as it has ceased to exist even on United Nations’ agenda since 1965.

In the same vein he batted for Vajpayee kind of nuanced approach to reach out to the people of Valley who considered him as a ‘hero’ given his path-breaking efforts to resolve the tangle with a genuine humane approach which was even followed by his successor Dr Manmohan Singh. In this connection he even mentioned the historic date of Vajpayee with the people of Kashmir i.e., April 18, 2003.

AVM Kak stressed the importance of bi-partisan consensus among national political leadership, which he said, was available during the regimes of former Prime Ministers Atal Behari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh yet was missing in the present scenario, to achieve a breakthrough on Kashmir with a nuanced innovative, sincere approach.

“Bi-partisan consensus, which is presently elusive among national political leadership on Kashmir, is called for and is crucial at this juncture. Reason is - we’re at a turning point on Kashmir where if we take immediate sincere, innovative measures we would reach somewhere close to achieving stability, peace there and an enduring solution to the problem,” he said.

To further elucidate his point further, the right activist stated that in the recent past, security forces remained successful in neutralizing Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists with an effective intelligence by the Jammu Kashmir police and the locals and better coordination among different security agencies yet there’s flip side to this phenomenon as well.

“This success is a strong signal - there will be no soft-pedaling on terrorism. However there’s a flip side to it and that finds reflection in a disturbing poser. Are we getting benefits of this strategy- the answer is `yes’ as well `no.’ ‘No’ because of disturbing trends i.e., growing tendency of joining militancy, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) is gaining predominance and above all, which would be the major cause of concern for all the uniformed men – greater number of fidayeen attacks against strategic security installations. For both army and JKP, militants will not be a worry but they are very high on motivation- will certainly be a greater point of concern,” he pointed out. He however played down the talks of emergence of Al Qaeda and IS elements threat in the Valley stating that even psychological links were limited to small pockets only.

AVM Kak, further elucidating his point in strategic terms mentioned, “This year 196 terrorists (over 200 till late evening) were killed and they included 96 Kashmiris. 54 civilians died while 32 policemen and 49 other security personnel, including 3 Garud commandoes lost their lives in action. This is certainly not a rosy picture rather a cause of concern. Though JKP is proving to be a very hardened counter-terror force yet at the same time the drastic ratio that for every two militants, we’re losing one security jawan is going against all canons of military strategies. Even in the worst of times, this ratio was 4-5 in case of terrorists. So this makes it evident that the hardened posturing by security forces this year will succeed or yield result only when it will be complemented with a sustained, sincere, meaningful political process.”

Giving an analysis of the ground-zero report from the valley with the study of mind-set of people, the rights activist pointed out that there was deep sense of anger, betrayal and alienation this time more in rural areas as compared to urban areas unlike past trends because of history of broken promises. “Reason is not too far to seek, this is fourth generational problem. Every generation has a story to tell. There have been historical blunders. If we track the genesis of the problem in 60-70s, there were four components of Centre’s approach viz., use corruption as an adhesive to join Kashmir society, massive rigging which aimed at establishing a puppet regime as it happened in case of Shams-ud-Din. This was a `thoughtful way to integrate Kashmir in mainstream and then to have pliable set of MLAs to get approval to the presidential orders. Though on the face of it, Indian Constitution was adopted after the deliberations of Constituent Assembly which had four nominated members from J&K as well yet ironically “Constitutionalism” here was taking away what was granted by Article 370 and Art 35-A. This is why the problems have cropped up. 27 years of militancy have militarized society. It has brutalized and dehumanized the Kashmiri society. See Kashmiris have learnt lynching an unthinkable term in their (Kashmiris’) grains. Dangerous impact is visible in multiple narratives of Kashmir including those related to 3-4 year kids,” AVM Kak analyzed.

While elucidating multiple narratives, he described Kashmir as a multi-stake holder issue, given its layers and layers of complexities and thus necessitating the understanding of its various regions, culture, geo-politics, geo-strategies and geo-orientalism/orientation to get to the `real problem’ which already consumed thousands and thousands of crores and thousands of lives so far.

“In its multiple complex layers, state and region are critical stake-holders. In 2002, terrorism was under control and the situation was relatively peaceful in the state. But then if despite numerous military strategies, Kashmir erupts again and again, it is because of the simple fact that we’ve not reached out to the problem. Hence it continued to simmer and lava erupted in 2008 in the form of Amarnath land row, then in 2010 and again in 2016. Post-2016 tumult, when we tried to reach out to the locals criss-crossing Kashmir and talked to them, mainly youth, in Central Kashmir. Alienation was too evident and in its background was the fact that Kashmiris had lost faith in India while youth had psychologically seceded from it (India) as their shared perception was –for it Kashmir was only a national security issue,” he gave an overview of ground situation in the Valley on the basis of his personal interactions, as a part of different civil society delegations, with Kashmir society.

AVM Kak said that his analysis on the basis of 20 years he spent in Kashmir tracing the genesis of problem revealed that the youth formed the fulcrum of any redressal mechanism. “Demonising for inclination towards Pakistan is certainly not called which (inclination towards Pak) again is limited to certain pockets. Ephemeral ways like involving youth in sports activities is a good idea to develop trust, ditto can be said about youth entrepreneurship. But until the larger problem is solved, these ephemeral ways won’t be of much help. Another popular narrative is of people identifying themselves with the future. APHC represents anger, militant sentiment and enjoys widespread support in civil society hence they’ve to be part of dialogue process. At the same, I must say that Hurriyat, which too is facing lot of questions from the youth, should also come forward for talks and it should not lose this opportunity. Either it should engage directly or should nominate a person to engage in dialogue. At the same time I would say, the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits in their homes and not ghettos would be in the interest of majority community,” he noted. At this point of time, he also mentioned that the Centre could not fulfill its promise of providing 40000 jobs to KPs in last 10 years,” he said.

Talking about PDP-BJP coalition, he commented that Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s vision of joining ‘North Pole-South Pole’ remained only partially realized with hardly any forward movement on the Agenda of Alliance. After initial hesitant moves, Mehbooba Mufti proved herself a highly courageous leader and she needed to be supported in her endeavours to restore peace in the state, he opined. He stressed that the grievances of Jammu and Ladakh needed to be addressed on the basis of Gajendra Gadkar commission report particularly in case of the former.

“Nevertheless, there’s no alternative to trust building efforts among different communities of state’s all regions. To me as an analyst, the conflict has badly impacted the life of Jammuites particularly the border residents and this issue calls for immediate attention. The conflict has also brought to the fore the magnanimity and great heart of Jammuites who not only accommodated Kashmiri Pandits but the displaced members of majority community as well,” he said.

Regarding extraneous factors, AVM Kak pointed out that the world was yawning. “Now it has left the matter entirely on India and Pakistan. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it is not an issue at the moment. Status-quo vis-à-vis Kashmir serves Pak’s interest but not that of India’s. Democratic spaces are getting choked. It is Pak’s ability to incentivize and threaten separatists and thus keeping the pot boiling. In the wake of this scenario, comes the imperative of engaging Pak sooner or later,” he said.

At the very outset of his lecture Air Vice Marshal thanked former Vice Chancellor Jammu University Prof R R Sharma for taking an initiative to set up the Department of Strategic and Regional Studies in the varsity thus offering a platform for enlightening discussions and insightful exchange of ideas and interactions.

He also thanked veteran scribes and rights activists late Ved Bhasin and late Balraj Puri for giving an idea of ground reality in Kashmir to wider masses in and outside the state both through their journalistic endeavours as well as their activism.

AVM Kak, though, in his opening remarks, stated he was speaking in Jammu but his focus would be Kashmir because the problem existed there yet in the same breath emphasised that regional coherence in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was of national importance because trio in unison constituted the ‘crown of India.’

The lecture was followed by a very enlightening and vibrant interactive session. While replying to queries, AVM Kak also talked about narratives of denial and falsification and stated that the solutions to Kashmir tangle were available with 62 out of 87 MLAs. At this point, he mentioned “Achievable Nationhood” of Sajjad Lone, Self-rule of PDP, Greater autonomy of NC and “United States of Kashmir” of Mirwaiz also and added that none of them talked about secession.

“They are achievable within the limits of India Constitution only thing lacking was serious political will to negotiate through dialogue process to a durable solution,” he said.

Earlier Director Incharge Dr Nagendra Rao of Department of Strategic and Regional Studies in his welcome address gave an overview of the activities of his department.

Prof R D Sharma in his presidential remarks stated that it was rarest of rare lecture which covered all aspects of complex Kashmir tangle. He stated that the complexity of Kashmir problem was also owing to diversity of the state which would also find a reflection in political opinions. He pointed out that studies on Kashmir conflict were generally silent on the role of West mainly US and UK. Prof Sharma stated that solution to problem was available in Vajpayee’s “Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat Kashmiriyat” formula, “Healing process” of late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and “Na Gaali Se, Na Goli Se…” slogan of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Dr Sunil Kumar presented vote of thanks.


News Updated at : Friday, December 1, 2017
 
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