Kashmiris Need to Gain Peace Post Article 370 Revocationby OPINIONEXPRESS.IN August 27, 2019 0 comments
People cannot be looked at as enemies of the State even as we score in diplomacy at G7
We may have been able to blunt the edge of the Trumpian kind of Twitter diplomacy, which blows hot and cold over the US position on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and is now in line with India’s argument that the Valley is our internal matter and a bilateral concern with Pakistan. But we may not be able to hold off till we get round to normalising the situation on the ground. It is the Modi 2.0’s diplomatic triumph of convincing the world, particularly the Islamic nations, that the abrogation of Article 370 was well within legal parameters of a sovereign nation, but it is equally important that the lockdown shouldn’t be prolonged so much as to trigger a debate on rights violations, denial of basic freedoms or flaunting supremacist behaviour. First, we have got to accept that an overturning of status quo that has so far defined the identity of Kashmiris and their engagement with the mainstream will but evoke unpleasant reactions, so distrust is a given. As a democracy, we should have the strength to stomach dissent and in Kashmir, allow contrarian viewpoints their space of expression if not accommodation, rather than suspect them to be enemies of the State and alienate them further. Militarisation has only frightened the common Kashmiri, who should have been made to feel that the changeover would not affect his/her daily life but could perhaps improve it in the long run, and look at the revocation of Article 370 as an offensive assault on the right to live and the basis of a long-drawn conflict than peace. It is not just the politics but the crippling of the local economy that cannot be allowed to drag on. In the age of communication, people still have to walk up to 10 km to find a phone booth to connect with their folks over landline as mobile networks may be silent for some more time. People cannot be greeted in their own community and neighbourhood by more than 10 people as that would amount to fomenting trouble. Such is the mistrust that some stone-pelters, who are defying curfew in sporadic bursts, attacked a truck of a fellow Kashmiri, thinking it belonged to the security forces. And buying daily rations certainly doesn’t do anything for the consumerist economy. Even those are in short supply. The worst-hit are the tourist operators and apple growers. Asia’s second largest apple market at Sopore is going empty, prices have crashed and farmers find it cheaper to trash unsolds as waste than repackage them for further use. These apple farmers, already in a debt trap, have no way of clawing their way out of it. The State’s horticulture sector, too, has been hit for one cannot ensure a coordinated flow in supply-chain management. All hotel bookings have been cancelled in the festive season, when a huge inflow of domestic tourists would keep Srinagar and surrounds buzzing. Existing small and medium-scale businesses are gasping, delivery service start-ups are on the verge of a meltdown with stoppage of services, the flight of labour and in the absence of internet. Of course, the Government has promised an investors’ summit in October but it should make sure that the atmosphere exists for both investors and local entrepreneurs to feel safe in the first place and carry on business operations uninterruptedly. Or else the economic incentive will matter little in what is being perceived as an economic blockade of sorts. Anyway, given its terrain, there are limitations to long-gestation projects and, therefore, the doable sectors need to be up and running.
Of course, there is a political vacuum that has been created with the arrest of mainline party leaders, who have for years helmed the pro-India movement, albeit serving their selfish interests too. This along with the information shutdown and fear psychosis have created a dark whirlpool that could throw the Valley into a dangerous tailspin if an attempt at empowering the locals is not made in some way, be it as encouraging an alternative leadership or facilitating local self-governance. Right now, there’s the government and the people with no filters in between and there’s all the more reason to not appear confrontational and ruin our new diplomatic paradigm.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer