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Kashmir: Changing the Discourse in Summer
|by Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle|
Prime Minister Dr Man Mohan Singh visited Srinagar this week underlining commitment of the government at the Centre to sustain the healing touch in Jammu and Kashmir. Unrest in West Asia has raised concerns of similar trends in the State in the Summer of 2011. This is not unusual given transformation of conflict from violent terrorism to political violence and activism, trends of which were seen in the past three years or so in the Valley. The Jammu and Kashmir government is pre-warned and better prepared this time around to face the challenge. A number of factors denote how the summer situation which is likely to be volatile can be met and the cycle of the past few years broken.
The mass movement that has seen the departure of Mr Hosni Mubarak in Egypt was followed by turmoil in Libya, this would dampen those who plan to replicate the same in Kashmir. More over in Egypt it was the vertical division between the Mubarak regime and the Army along with a horizontal one with the people that was the key factor for success. There are no deep rooted serrations between executive institutions and the political class in Jammu and Kashmir, differences exist which are openly debated thereby facilitating resolution.
A trigger for violence is another key factor in the Valley. In many cases these are invented or hyped by the recalcitrant who are employing a group of trained and professional anti social elements as stone pelters and organized protestors. While incidents of violence cannot be obviated due to nature of the ongoing conflict, the key lies in post incident handling. There is some maturity shown now as was seen in the death of Manzoor Ahmad Magray, in Handwara allegedly in an army ambush. The Chief Minister as well as the Army top brass reacted very effectively to control the spread of anger by assuaging the relatives and preventing a conflagration.
The proposals likely to come up from the Government appointed Interlocutors who have held a sustained dialogue with all sections of the people in Jammu & Kashmir will be another factor which would influence the forthcoming situation. During their visits to J&K, the Group of Interlocutors have met various stakeholders including representatives of political parties, communities, students delegations, welfare associations, community organizations, professional bodies and civil society outfits etc. The Interlocutors have been able to change the discourse and have been able to persuade a number of stakeholders to offer suggestions for a political solution. The interlocutors have taken Kashmiri separatist leaders' proposals on confidence building measures into account in their report on a possible political solution to Kashmir issue. They however could not meet the separatists.
Chief interlocutor Dilip Padgaonkar said efforts to reach out to separatists would continue after the report's submission. "We would submit the initial document to the Union government in two weeks after assessing the ground situation and meeting with various sections of the society," he said. This document is likely to be based on various reports on Kashmir, the National Conference's (NC) Autonomy report, People's Democratic Party's (PDP) 'self Rule' report Awami National League's, Sajjad Lone's and Justice Sageer Ahmed's reports. The four points of Mirwaiz Farooq and Yaseen Malik and five-point agenda of Syed Ali Shah Geelani based on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) is also supposedly being taken into consideration. Harmonising these contending positions would not doubt be difficult but it is expected that some median line will come up. Never the less what is of concern is that the interlocutors have not directly engaged the separatists and this would dilute the impact of suggestions for the separatists may in the long run tend to oppose it. However possibly the initial report can be used as a framework document to work out a lasting solution.
Finally at the ground level the Jammu and Kashmir police has inducted a large quantum of non lethal equipment and also practiced drills for tackling street violence, which will be able to control violence, but far more numbers would be required to meet this challenge than that have been trained so far.
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