The government of India has ruled out talks with pro-freedom leaders in Kashmir and insists that the problem is limited to just five districts of south Kashmir while the rest of the state is “in peace”. In an interview to the IANS, Union Minister of India Venkaiah Naidu further said that the trouble in the state was not as widespread as it was made out to be in the media.
“Other than five districts, remaining parts of the state are free from violence. Let us understand this. Except for south Kashmir, the state is in peace. In north Kashmir there is no major problem. In Jammu region, there is no major problem. In Ladakh region, there is no problem.” Besides the obvious lack of gravitas and depth to Naidu’s assertions, these suffer from semantic issues. So if these statements were nitpicked, so to speak, there is a problem across Kashmir except Ladakh given that Naidu uses a qualifier in the form of “major” in his remarks. From Naidu’s perspective then, there is a problem but not a major problem in regions that he mentions. Pointing these semantic issues is not an idle exercise. These go to the heart of the issue. Either somebody is leading powers that be in New Delhi up the primrose path or these power are choosing to live in denial vis a vis Kashmir. The centre of gravity of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is the Kashmir valley. The valley determines and influences what happens in the state- especially politically. The prosaic fact of the matter is that the entire valley is politically volatile. The reaction to Sabzar’s killing illustrates this point. The district theory propounded by Naidu does not hold water. If, however, Naidu, has militancy in mind then that is an altogether different matter. The form and shape of Militancy , generically and historically, emanates from structural set of conditions , some of which may or may not be present in Kashmir contemporarily. But what is present and intensely so is the sentiment which underpins militancy. This sentiment is wide and deep and cuts across classes and sections of society. If a certain variable in the overall calculus is thrown in, then conditions for militancy would be ripe in Kashmir. The reasons for delineating and elaborating all this are to put into perspective the conditions that obtain in Kashmir. A realistic picture informed by sobriety should engender prudence and a sense of perspective which , in turn, should entail attempts at conflict resolution. As of now, the picture that Naidu’s remarks suggest, is one that is a comprehensive flight from reality.