Rajnath Singh has said that one will see a “transformed” Kashmir in a year “no matter how the change takes place”. “You will see a transformed Kashmir in a year. No matter how the change occurs, one thing is certain, that there will be a change in Kashmir in a year’s time,” he asserted.
Singh also said he “fully agrees” with Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s remarks about dealing sternly with those trying to hinder security forces from performing their duties in Kashmir.“Those doing such things will have to face the consequences”, Rajnath added. While it’s not entirely clear what Rajnath meant, but, prima facie, a discursive and amateur psychoanalytic assessment lends itself to obvious interpretations. One is that Rajnath has a more strident and stringent approach based on the coercive capacities of the state in mind. This is lent credence by an analysis of the thought process (es) of Singh. If thoughts are linear then Rajnath’s thought processes, without making a jump , move from a “transformed” Kashmir to “stern action” . From an amateur psychoanalytic perspective, this sequential thinking suggests that Singh has coercion in mind. This could have intra as well as intra state connotations. Whilst there might be more than meets the eye to Rajnath’s statements, but if, hypothetically speaking, our assessment regarding his intent holds, then what is clear is that powers that be at the Centre have not learnt anything about Kashmir and they choose to live in denial. The reflex that appears to be determining the locus of the state’s action appears to be force. But, history suggests that force has either limited or no utility in dealing with conflicts like the one in and over Kashmir. Locally, as the Kashmir conflict has demonstrated, in its various avatars, permutations and combinations, force has neither squelched the conflict nor has it led to peace. Moreover, broadly, speaking, force in the 21st century, yields not only diminishing returns but also makes parties in and to a conflict more truculent, given a whole host of factors. Dealing with Kashmir then only by virtue of force and coercion, if indeed, this is what Rajnath has in mind, is a mug’s game. Peace can return to Kashmir only when a prudent approach, based on a multi stakeholder paradigm, is instituted. Any other approach will lead to a transformation of the conflict into something more intense and, to repeat, truculent. The need of the hour re Kashmir then is prudent statecraft; not pugnacious politics.