By JAVID AHMAD AHANGER
Kashmir, constantly perceived as a developmental problem in the Indian context, is just piling up old rhetorics in New Delhi’s court. The recent visit of the Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh , to Kashmir once again appears to be a disappointing one as of his previous ones. It is common knowledge that until and unless Kashmir is not looked as apolitical problem, any visit of Home Minister or even Prime Minister is not going to yield any solution.
Rajnath’s visit to the state comes at a time when the whole narrative of Kashmir is in shambles. On one side, fascist’s forces are hell bent upon to eradicate Kashmiri’s special identity and on the other, the government sponsored NIA raids are emptying the local business community and resistance camp. The Home Minister’s statement in his press conference, where he said that he with an open mind and heart is willing to talk to anyone out there amounts the double standard and duplicity of him. He looks very dishonest while saying so because the whole Hurriyat leadership is caged, numbers of youths are behind bars with PSA’s slapped against them; people are being harassed to the highest level and what not. Therefore, it makes literally no sense to talk like this and one can judge it easily that the visithas a very obscure motive.
Secondly, when the rhetoric of talks are being drummed up, people who have suffered all along since 1947 have no choice other than to be cynical about entire tactic. How a common Kashmiri who since the birth of Kashmir dispute has witnessed these so called visits and announcements believe that this very visit is going to gain no ground when all the past have remained just history.
Kashmir dispute is sticking there where it was ever. New Delhi has almost adopted all statecraft tactics with regard to Kashmir. Sometimes its leaders said that ‘sky is the limit’, sometimes ‘enough water has flown out’ and some other times that ‘Kashmir is a unique problem and it needs a unique solution’. In the contemporary phase, when New Delhi saw that it has almost succeeded in suppressing and silencing the genuine voice of Kashmiris by brute force, they started to see Kashmir through the paradigm of backwardness and poverty.
In this juncture, the corporate media proved more than loyal to the government inits propaganda mission. The NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee innovated a confusing term of ‘Kashmiriyat, Jomhoriyat and Insaaniyat’. This was also a masterstroke like the previous ones but people now were quite aware not to get misled. These type of statements were always obscure in nature and could neither make any difference nor to solve the Kashmir problem.
One wonders when the two different things are confused with each other when it is said that Kashmir’s problems would be solved instead of the actual Kashmir problem. These are two different questions which need to be differentiated and understood in their own context. By combining the two, the Indian state has always adopted the wrong policies and approaches.
India had tried to create a Unitarian type of Nationalism in Kashmir under one nation and one flag. This obviously led to the conflict between the two identities. The visit of Rajnath Singh can be seen as one of the attempts to accommodate the Kashmiris under this Project of Nationalism. Rajnath Singh, in his statement, talked about the five Cs, which will form the basis of a permanent solution to the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir i-e, Compassion, Communication, Coexistence, Confidence-building and Consistency. Had these Cs ever worked in ameliorating the situation in Kashmir, the political atmosphere would have been quite different.
Meeting with different delegations in the comfort AC zones of Nehru guest house neither can solve the problems in Kashmir nor can it solve the problem of Kashmir. The statement of Singh that, “no force on earth can stop Kashmir from becoming heaven on earth again.” needs to be debated in the contours of the Kashmir politics in its historical background. How that heaven can become a dream for an ordinary and common Kashmiri who have always been ruled at the point of gun . You may succeed in bringing peace for a short period of time in the valley, which seems itself an idealistic dream. Have not previous Home Ministers or Prime Ministers visited the Valley? Why not those visits of VVIP’ s brings peace to this conflict torn state?
The home minister,not only praised the local police and other security agencies in handling the growing violence in the state but his tone was also seemingly sermonic in nature when he said, that “it is unfortunate that people still don’t understand the value of your ‘security forces’ martyrdom. It’s not ordinary but supreme sacrifice.” What wrong is with people of Kashmir why don’t they understand the Martyrdom of local police? Well, this is more a sermon than merely the admiration. Before sermonising the oppressed Kashmiris, Rajnath should check his facts.
Rajnath also talked about the Article 35-A controversy by saying that ‘h ewants to make it sure that I am not talking about only Article 35-A; whatever our government does, we will not act against the sentiments and emotions of people of J&K. We will respect that,” However, Kashmiris have witnessed such hollow statements from Nehru to present Modi. History is witness to the fact that the sentiments of people of Kashmir were never respected in any way.
Rajnath may see the “green shoots of peace” in Kashmir. But, the tree of that very peace has never received the statesman who can really understand the value of peace in Kashmir. India has been falsely projecting Kashmir as a law and order issue and a development problem. Seeing Kashmir through the prism of National Interest and security related problem is itself a problem of the highest degree. Rajnath’s single visit to Kashmir would have been five hundred times better than his ‘five of fifty’, had not the visit/visits been politically motivated and economically generated but sincere, humanitarian and people centered.
—The author is a Doctoral Fellow in Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University. He can be reached at Ahanger.firstname.lastname@example.org