The sharpening and growing public resistance to unrelenting repression in Kashmir has clearly and emphatically now been joined by the students. This fact is amply acknowledged across the spectrum inside Kashmir and elsewhere. Failure of the ‘mainstream’ politics is near complete. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday as extreme repression and militaristic methods appear to be the only tools left with the political and the security establishment to keep control over Kashmir.
Under the circumstances one would have expected a clear message or a definite direction the ruling regimes in Srinagar and New Delhi (if the two can be seen as separate) would like to work with. But if the real issue that has been causing cyclical flare-ups in Kashmir is not acknowledged in its essence it would be totally unrealistic to expect any truly meaningful political initiatives to even begin.
Mehbooba’s statement after her meeting the PM leaves little for boubt here. “We need a dialogue. We can’t be confronting our own people for too long. We cannot hold talks when on one side stones are being thrown and bullets fired from the other side,” she told reporters after the meeting.
Let us look at what is being communicated and accepted. On the one hand the statement means an official acknowledgement that the State in Kashmir is confronting the people, angry over the unbearable status quo over the Kashmir dispute. At the same time the CM says the other side, which is the government forces under her government’s command, respond to stones of the protesters with bullets. Bullets are fired to kill. Stone throwing is a manifestation of anger and intensity of utter political discontent.
And then there is the element of need for dialogue in the CM’s statement. Dialogue, in the context in which the government functionaries and the ‘mainstream’ politician forward it has never spelled any sincerity. Part of the current intensifying anger is also about the perverse use of the term. The history of offers or possibilities of dialogue is such that it is sought to be offered when the security and political establishments begin losing control (that being the sole theme of ruling Kashmir) pleading for ‘peace’ to make it possible. But when we have intervals of ‘peace’ it is made out to be no dialogue is needed. Besides, dialogue is talked about not for actual conflict resolution but for the sake of symbolism. It is this reality and history that also informs the cycles of intensifying protests in Kashmir. Until it changes Kashmir’s ‘mainstream’ politicians would exist only as an adjunct to extreme militarisation of the blighted territory.