The Illusion of Control

The Illusion of Control

BJP national president Amit Shah has said the “Kashmir problem” emerged because of Congress, expressing confidence that the Narendra Modi government will soon control the present situation in the Valley. Besides the blame game inhering in Shah’s remarks, the key and operative word is “control”. So what does control in the given context and conditions that obtain in Kashmir mean?  The dictionary defines control as , “ the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events”. If this definition is employed to put Shah’s remarks into perspective, then central to the whole schema is the state. That is, the state and its various apparatuses will be used to control the conditions that obtain in Kashmir.  This is as myopic as it can get especially because in Kashmir, the state sits atop a society that is comprehensively estranged from it. If society is estranged from the state then state society relations in Kashmir become adversarial. So , by elimination, the only “ relational” dynamic between state and society in Kashmir become power and power politics. In other words, power will be employed to control and direct the state’s politics. In some senses, this has essentially been the nature of the dynamic in Kashmir since decades but now, after BJP’s ascension to power, is now more explicit.  The natural corollary to the employment of power to control the people of Kashmir is pacification. That is, Kashmiris will be sought to be pacified. Again, this is myopic and ahistorical. Kashmiris have resisted attempts at pacification and control- historically and contemporarily. And any attempts to repeat this, albeit in a different permutation and combination, will not yield results that New Delhi wants. In terms of the conflict in and over Kashmir, these attempts merely mean prolongation of the conflict. If this is what New Delhi wants, then implied in and inherent to this approach is intensification of the conflict and its transformation into something more truculent. Kashmir, if a long duree and historical perspective is taken into consideration, is at a delicate stage. How it is approached will determine the nature of the conflict and its denouement. Prudence then dictates that , instead of pride , prejudice and power, a prudent approach be adopted vis a vis Kashmir. In essence, this means a multi stakeholder approach to conflict resolution with people’s aspirations central to it.

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