SRINAGAR: A five-member delegation led by former minister Yashwant Sinha, which visited Kashmir from October 25-27 this year, fears Kashmir may witness “something bigger” in 2017 than what it witnessed in 2016 following the killing of Burhan Wani.
In its 10-page report submitted on Friday, the delegation has pointed out that there is a strange apprehension among Kashmiris that “something untoward” is going to happen once spring sets in.
“What happens in the period after April 2017 is expected to be much higher in magnitude and intensity,” the report said.
The report says that the kind of fear of “something big” happening after April 2017 is similar to the fears expressed by people last spring, which then unfolded in the summer.
“There is a near complete lack of faith in anything that the Government of India says or promises because of a history of broken commitments. Even among those who say that they see a future with India, there is anger that India has not done enough to keep the Kashmiris with it,” it said.
It said that Kashmiris see the visits of emissaries of GoI and civil society groups as farcical exercises and part of a diversionary tactic to handle disturbances in Kashmir.
“Because of the record of the Indian State, there is scepticism about even non-governmental initiatives,” it said.
Advocating for meaningful dialogue with “all stakeholders”, the report said that the “death and destruction would continue to visit Valley with increasing frequency” if the basic issue of Kashmir was not resolved.
“Almost every Kashmiri we met said that there was a need for a one time political settlement and that unless the basic political issue was resolved, death and destruction would continue to visit the Valley with increasing frequency,” it said.
“Kashmiris believe that there is a ‘crisis of acknowledgement’ of the Kashmir problem with the Indian state. They feel that India refuses to recognize that Kashmir is a political problem and, therefore, requires a political solution,” the report said.
The report has also pointed out to the shift in resistance policy of Hurriyat leadership which is thinking of a long-term strategy for which the consensus among its leadership is being evolved.
“People believe that the present lull in stone-pelting and street protests will not last for long. They say that stone pelting is the result of not allowing any assembly of people. People ask, ‘How do Kashmiris voice their feelings, vent their anger or grievances?” says the report.
It said, “As of now, the strike calendar has become fortnightly and complete Hartal or closure is limited to only two days in a week. Children are going to school on the days when there is no Hartal and private transport is functioning normally most of the time. It is as if, realizing the hardships being faced by the people, the Hurriyat leaders have decided not to enforce the Hartal with full vigour.”
The delegation also pointed out that there was a lack of fear among the Kashmiri youth who fearlessly confront government forces on streets during protests and stone-pelting.
“There is an increasing lack of fear in the youngsters–or so they claim—in confronting the security forces. Today, they claim, they take death in their stride,” it said.
Quoting a Kashmiri youth, the report said, “The best thing for which we are thankful is that your use of weapons, including pellet guns has killed the fear in us. We now celebrate the martyrdom.”
The report further said that the vocabulary of the youth has also changed, as has their psychological attitude towards India.
“They talk of curfew, Hartals, martyrdom and Burhan (Wani). There is a deep sense of anger and betrayal against India among the youngsters. Most do not see much of a future for themselves if the Kashmir situation does not settle down. Those arrested for stone-pelting and jailed with adult criminals for lack of juvenile homes are likely to come out as hardened radicals once they are released,” the report added.
During their second visit, the delegation comprised of Yashwant Sinha – former external affairs minister, Wajahat Habibullah – former Chief Information Commissioner and former Chairman of National Minorities Commission, Air Vice-Marshal (retd.) Kapil Kak, Bharat Bhushan – editor Catchnews and Sushobha Barve – executive program director of Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) also interacted with Sikh, Shia leaders and others and heard there feedback in separate meetings.