Kashmir continues to be the longest running reality show on Indian news channels. Since the new coalition government came to power here, Kashmir has become a jumble of controversies. This whole drama that is playing on the TV screens throughout India on daily basis is just another example of ‘treadmill politics’.
The fact that the September 2014 floods devastated the whole state, that it continues to be on the brink of more disasters to follow, seems to have been conveniently pushed on to the back burner. The miseries of the people continue unabated and except for a bit of tokenism every now and then they have had a little succour. This state of affairs derives from the fact that Kashmir is a burning problem even if this thing is conveniently sought to be buried under one guise or the other. Whatever happens in this place is always viewed through the prism of its disputed status. It is a well-known fact that to sustain a falsehood you have to keep on inventing new fictions. Kashmir’s status as presented to the world by India is one such big fiction. The present coalition, which claims to be a compromise based on the agenda of development, has turned out to be another in the series of canards that is used to sustain this big fiction. To expect that the minor issues like development can be addressed while keeping the Kashmir conflict on the backburner is the biggest fallacy. This has been consistently proven by the reality that surrounds us.
Indeed so long as India continues to pursue its carrot and stick policy in Kashmir offering jobs, other sops and ‘dealing firmly with the agitators’ it is treating only the symptoms and complications of a disease that has long been crying for a cure. It is true that people in Kashmir, like anywhere else, want jobs, good roads and good governance but what is ignored is that more than anything else people want the right to self determination.
Stone pelting and anarchy in Kashmir today is a sequel of a frustrated revolution, which was thwarted with brute and ruthless violence. All this because the world’s largest democracy refuses to address the basic problem in Kashmir – the problem of Nehru’s unkept promise of allowing the Kashmiri people the right of self determination. With this forgotten ‘jack’ firmly stuck in place, should it be a cause for surprise that what has come to be referred as the Kashmir conundrum continues to defy solution? It is pretty much evident that till the ‘jack’ remains in place this particular car is going to get nowhere.
It is evident that aggression as well as that other insidious ‘alternative therapy’ of attrition has consistently failed in Kashmir. Kashmir has been going through repeated cycles of violence with a lull in between, which prompts misguided optimistic people to label it as a peace. The fact is that peace in the real sense has never returned to this land neither has it been an objective of India, because for New Delhi ‘return to peace’ vis-à-vis Kashmir has just been a euphemism for restoring the status quo ante, the state of suspended animation that the Kashmir problem was in prior to the armed uprising of the 90s. Moreover, in the process of confusing the whole issue, somewhere along the line, New Delhi has ended up in confusion itself. What is labelled as ‘genuine aspirations of the Kashmiri people’ at times becomes ‘trouble fomented by a handful of the misguided people’ in no time; ‘an integral part where repeated elections have said it all’ suddenly it emerges as a ‘unique problem’ requiring a ‘unique solution’ only to end up being ‘trouble caused by a habitually tiresome neighbour’.
New Delhi’s active and passive allies in Kashmir, that is the ruling and the opposition pro-India parties, find themselves no less confused (and helpless to boot!) fettered as they are by conditions and clauses tightly governing their behaviour. Meanwhile Kashmir continues to be a bleeding sore – a sore that will continue to fester even if it stops bleeding. Six decades of strife have amply demonstrated that this is a problem that can’t be just wished away. It is high time New Delhi realizes that to sustain its big lie about Kashmir it will have to go on inventing new fictions ultimately putting its own credibility at stake.