Even as the All Party Delegation heads for Srinagar, “to assess the ground situation,” so to say the core issue relief to the people held hostage to the State as well as extremist ideologues alike should be underlined. This reprieve in turn will come only if mainstream political leadership in the Valley and New Delhi attempts to re-establish their links with the common man, security piquet in non sensitive areas, to start with, are withdrawn and curbs are placed on leaders inciting violence through their speeches of hate. Does the All Party Delegation have the mandate to even suggest these measures, the answer seems to be no as the Centre and the State attempt to continue with the status quo.
The need for reaching out to the people is more than underlined by the continued violence with fatalities now likely to cross over a hundred. But much of the debate continues to be restricted to issues as AFSPA, politics of coalition, nationalism, separatism, economic and development package with the people having lost their relevance both to Srinagar’s separatists as well as nationalist parties and more so the Centre. Thus expect violent demonstrations to continue for flying visits by those who have are not perceived to have empathy with the people howsoever good their intentions may be are unlikely to lead to solutions which have to come from the heart more than the minds.
|Our political leaders need to take a leaf from the Mahatma, the Father of the Nation whose simple method of jumping into the vortex of violence and calming down frayed tempers saved many a human life in the critical years preceding the Partition, Noakhali being a major episode recalled by many.
Moreover as there is limited scope for the All Party delegation to have a formal dialogue with those who are behind violent protests the Geelani faction of the Hurriyat presently being led by ultra hardliners and who are not likely to relent now that they are seeing success of their agitation leading to a political turmoil in the State, the result may be a foregone conclusion.
The Chief Minister Mr Omar Abdullah has been fully supported by Mr Rahul Gandhi, the Congress General Secretary who some feel is the one who ultimately will call the shots, if Omar is to be sacked. But Mr Gandhi would not be blind to the reality that unlike his own quest to reach out to a wide range of people across the country especially the under privileged, Mr Omar remains completely isolated from the masses thereby has lost confidence of possibly even those who elected him into power with a very small voting percentage in the core areas which is the breeding ground of hardline separatism in the Valley
It is also apparent that the government has not been able to gauge the level of harm that the separatists can cause for even as the central government was debating withdrawal of AFSPA and providing some succour to the people reports of desecration of the Holy Koran in the US supposedly splashed by an Iranian channel resulted in a spate of violence leading to almost two score dead. Obviously despite warnings from the Central government the state had let down its guard. While the Florida pastor had cancelled plan to burn the Koran, fallout of the propaganda that was to follow from the incident was hardly anticipated. The security forces lacking any political direction from the Centre or the State failed to take preventive measures adding to the misery of many families who lost heir near and dear ones to false propaganda.
The stand off over the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) between the government and the Armed Forcer also remains unresolved with the Prime Minister meeting the Combined Commanders in South Block on 13 September some definitive announcement was expected but nothing tangible has come.
There is a need for a political balm being applied to the Valley and for this purpose revocation of the AFSPA in some central Valley districts may be the bitter pill that the Army would have to swallow and this may not be really too much for it to absorb for Army presence in Srinagar and Badgam is limited nor is it carrying out any major operations in these areas thus there would be nothing lost by giving up the AFSPA there. While the Prime Minister has also planned a fast-track economic and employments package it is measures as revocation of AFSPA that the general public in the Valley is looking for and not economic sops.
Our political leaders need to take a leaf from the Mahatma, the Father of the Nation whose simple method of jumping into the vortex of violence and calming down frayed tempers saved many a human life in the critical years preceding the Partition, Noakhali being a major episode recalled by many. While we do not have any amongst our midst with the moral stature of the Mahatma, simpler methods of outreach to the people will pay better dividends than having a plethora of meetings, visits by delegations and discussions. Alas! Given lack of leadership with advent of the political, election and cricketing manager as a leader, we can see no light at the end of the tunnel today not just in the Valley but other parts of the country facing violence.