SRINAGAR: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was quick to take credit for withdrawal of cases against more than 4,000 youths allegedly involved in stone-pelting and pro-freedom protests, but it may not have a lasting impact on the ground. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah, too, withdrew cases against 1200 youths booked for taking part in pro-freedom protests in the year 2011, but that did not prevent the six-month-long 2016 uprising.
“Such measures do not work in the long term,” former Vice Chancellor of Islamic University of Science and Technology, Professor Sidiq Wahid, said when asked for his views. “These measures have limited scope,” he said. “In my own assessment, such short-term measures will have no efficacy.”
Prof Wahid said that it was important to know the intent behind the decision to withdraw the cases. “Is the intent to appease people and keep them quiet for a while? This step can work for a while, but not for much long.”
National Conference (NC) general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said that such measures are no more than token gestures.
“Such measures can’t help in establishing a long-term political solution,” Sagar said. “It is a goodwill gesture towards our own boys. It provides them some relief. Many among them are young kids who have no idea what they are doing. We have to consider their future.”
He, however, lambasted the government for ordering the cases in the first place. “This government used disproportionate use of force against people. Now who will determine who a first-time stone-pelter is? This is just eyewash to mislead the people,” he said.
Political science professor Gul Wani said that taking into account past experience, measures like withdrawing of cases against protesters give an impression of being temporary arrangements to cool down the situation.
“The challenge is that such steps must be sustainable. You should not declare a full stop; you have to continue with steps to make things conducive for resolving of issues,” he said.
Prof Wani suggested that the government should create a template on the lines of the Musharraf-Manmohan formula to address the broader political issues.
“It is good that an interlocutor has been appointed for Kashmir. But it is very important to break the ice with Islamabad. Only then can initiatives be made sustainable. Otherwise, if you only take cosmetic measures, they will not be helpful in the longer run,” Prof Wani said.