By Mifta’ah Fayaz
When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi backed the Ramadan ceasefire in Srinagar, it was a message to the opponents within BJP. The Ramadan ceasefire was the outcome of a marathon all-party meeting at Srinagar’s lakeside convention centre in the beginning of May. Just 24 hours before the holy month for Muslims began, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s announcement took everyone by surprise, especially opponents within the saffron party.
While the suspension of anti-militancy operations has brought respite to people Kashmir and more particularly to southern parts of the Valley, this doesn’t, however, give a long-term guarantee for peace, as broadly speaking ceasefire in a conflict zone doesn’t hold for long. When Hizbul Mujahideen, for instance, announced a truce in 2000, it could not last for more than a fortnight.
Conflict zones have varied agencies with everyone having their own vested interests. So unless and until everyone is not on board, the truce would fail. That is what happened in 2000.
Right now, we are witnessing a homegrown militancy with the government of India’s muscular military offensive fueling more militancy. In the first five months, more than 45 militants have joined with the outfits reflecting killing of more than 200 militant last year has not yielded results in the long-term. In fact it is adding to the anger among youth who are picking up arms to attain martyrdom.
So what is the alternative? Negotiations. It is easier said than done given the history of dialogue. The institution has been discredited in Kashmir over the years because of the Government of India’s flawed policies. Instead of holding genuine negotiations, the government of India has used it to tire out people and as a result discredit people willing to take hold dialogue. Most of the actors turned obscure players leaving them at vulnerable.
Currently, the Narendra Modi led government showed an olive leaf to Hurriyat demonstrating willingness to dialogue after maintaining rigid approach since coming to power four years ago. This is an opportunity for the Hurriyat to seize and engage in parleys. Why? Hurriyat is at advantage and will be speaking from a vantage point. Earlier , it was a weak one faction or a few member of Hurriyat who would hold talks with government of India. The current Joint Resistance Leadership comprises of the three leaders especially Syed Ali Geelani being no doubt a popular leader in contemporary history. Geelani is the veto player who can derail the dialogue process. Yet he is equally powerful to hold negotiations, which can have far reaching consequences. He is the political voice of militants and if he is convinced along with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, they can turn tables and leave a strong message in a unified approach. A unified group at a negotiating table is of vital significance in conflict resolution because it holds leverage for bargaining. This will also send out a message to government of India to reach an agreement on resolving the Kashmir issue.
It is the Hurriyat’s moment to seize the opportunity and force the government of India address the root cause of the armed conflict which has devoured thousands of lives so far.
The author is a former student of Kashmir University and is currently doing preparing for research on Kashmir conflict