Bombs, guns, bullets and stones have been the norm in Kashmir for a long time now. With its snow capped mountains, hills teeming with apple orchards, and cast fields of saffron, Kashmir resembles an enchanted realm. But for decades this land has instead been accursed and has witnessed too much bloodbath. Some give it a name of proxy war, some call it armed struggle, and some say it is a conflict or dispute. Whatever the nomenclature, the reality is that the Kashmiris have suffered hell. They have lost their lives, their loved ones, their property, and above all, peace.
Earlier the infiltrators would come from across the border, with some Kashmiri youth joining them. India continued fighting them with an iron fist. We fought Pakistan in three wars and every time showed them their place. But for several years the trend has changed. Pakistan is not able to infiltrate its proxies in numbers as it would earlier. Today there are more Kashmiris (in ratio) than Pakistanis who are involved in militancy activities.
During encounters, the security forces give a chance to these militants to surrender, which is very much evident from a recent video which surfaced on social media from an encounter site in south Kashmir, as well as many other such incidents. Security forces are, as they should be, going for a hunt. They are to be lauded for their efforts. They have been bravely guarding the land against the enemies of the country. But somewhere it is the ruling class of the country which has failed Kashmiris all through. Except for former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, no other leader has actually been able to walk the talk on the Kashmir issue. It was during his tenure that New Delhi started a dialogue process with the separatists, which to the dismay of the Kashmiri population could not continue. For Kashmiris this dialogue process was a ray of hope towards a prosperous and peaceful future.
The present NDA government is in no mood to initiate any sort of talks with Kashmiri people; rather, it is fulfilling its nationalist agenda by removing Art 370 and bifurcating the state into two union territories (UT of Jammu & Kashmir and UT of Ladakh), which is further alienating the Kashmiri people. Watching all this, Pakistan should be on cloud nine, as the alienation of Kashmiris will help it in furthering its proxy war tactics.
India has always been a land of tolerance. The founding fathers of the nation taught us to adopt the method of non-violence and reconciliation. We gave Pakistan so many chances to mend its ways but it has always betrayed us. Now that we have decided not to give it further chances, it is rightly so. But in Kashmir, Pakistan is using our own boys against us. We have to talk to these boys, who on provocation of an outsider are disturbing peace in their own homes.
These boys, even with guns in their hands, are our own children. They don’t need bullets in their chests but a hand to pull them out of the dark and towards the light. They have been intoxicated by our enemies and we need to cure them of this intoxication.
Let’s try and talk to them with no third party in between. If the United States can talk to a dreadful terrorist organisation like the Taliban, why can’t we bring our own children to the table? For some reason or the other, they are unhappy with us but they can be brought back by addressing these reasons. They can be made part of the developmental process of our country.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I remain an optimist, not that there is any evidence I can give that the right will win, but because of my unflinching faith that the right must win in the end”.

The writer is an Advocate at J&K High Court. [email protected]

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