To end this crisis, India needs to engage with Kashmiri youth

The polarised discourse and flip-flop regarding talks with Pakistan provided oxygen to the separatists to fuel the situation for the worse.

 |  5-minute read |   16-07-2016
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Hizbul Mujahidden commander is a reflection of the failure of the law and order mechanism as well as the administrative machinery of the Centre in Kashmir. At least 30 Kashmiri civilians have lost their lives and more than a hundred have been severely injured.

What else are we waiting for? The fault lines that appeared in the summer when the PDP-BJP combine formed the government in the state have now turned into a volcano. Both the new chief minister of the state and the Union government have failed to read the writings on the wall and now appear to be at a loss when it comes to controlling the situation in the Valley.

kashmir-pellets_071616121905.jpg Hundreds of Kashmiris have lost their eyesight to pellet injuries.

Recently, there were intelligence reports regarding the polarisation of the youth in the Valley. Whether any action was taken by the government and corrective measures were initiated in this regard is not known.

The polarised discourse and flip-flop regarding talks with Pakistan provided oxygen to the separatists to fuel the situation for the worse. The intensity of the youth unrest, particularly in Southern Kashmir, is a matter of serious concern.

Wani created more terrorists after his death than during his lifetime. Until now, we were worried about terrorism across the borders but if the recent incidents are of any indication, then popular support to militancy in the valley is a more serious threat.

If we remain indifferent to the situation, the result which is there for all of us to see would be repeated more often.

Predictably, Pakistan voiced its irrelevant concern on the Kashmir situation. Instead of dealing with its home grown terrorists and controlling its internal situation, Pakistan preferred to speak on internal affairs of India.

The situation in Kashmir pertains to the government of India and the elected government in the state and it is for them only to handle it effectively. 

Mahatma Gandhi had said, "there is no way to peace, peace itself is the way". Both New Delhi and Srinagar are running out of time and given the historic and strategic nature of the region, the sooner they will devise the ways and means to bring peace and harmony in the Valley, the better it will be in the interest of the state and the country as well.

The multifaceted challenge it offers requires a comprehensive approach to contain the situation in the short run and ensure lasting peace. We must see to it that terrorism and terrorists are dealt with firmly and there is no compromise on matters relating to national security and, at the same time, we must ensure that the youth in the Valley remain insulated from the influence of the extremists and from across the border.

Lasting peace in the Valley can be ensured when it is both a state sponsored initiative and rooted in the structure of the community, particularly the youth. There is no doubt that the Indian security forces are committed to protect the unity and integrity of our country and to safeguard people. Both the military and the government should ensure that no opportunity is given whereby their sacrifices are exploited by those who intend to subvert India's interests and the development of the state.

First of all, the military needs to assess the number of terrorists and their operational details and, accordingly, the counter terrorist operations may be planned to avoid loss of civilian lives in the operation.

Be it in anti-terrorist operations or counter insurgency operations within Naxals, this is a must. Apart from preventing loss of innocent lives of civilians, it will help the military and the police to prevent loss of lives of their personnel as well.

A sense of alienation and victimhood is very much there among the Kashmiri youth, irrespective of whether they are in the Valley or living elsewhere in India. No child is a born terrorist, irrespective of the religion the child is born into. They are inculcated with beliefs and values which make them separate from the mainstream. Civilian killings by the military mishandling of delicate issues like the issues affecting the Kashmir pundits are fuelling that feeling of estrangement.

A dialogue needs to be initiated with the youth which boost their morale and will act as confidence building measures connecting them with the Union of India.

A step has been taken by the Modi government to reach out to the Opposition and to bring a consensus on Jammu & Kashmir policy but limited dialogue is no solution, it has to be taken forward in a structured manner, bringing as many affected and disaffected stakeholders in its ambit as possible.

Since the round table conference initiative by Manmohan Singh-led UPA government a decade ago, there has been no political dialogue by the Centre with the Valley, except engaging an interlocutor panel to find out ground views.

The NDA government in the Centre and the alliance in the state have failed to implement even the doable promises they made to the youth of the state. Therefore, lacking of political approach to solve the Kashmir issue is one of the major reasons for the present day imbroglio.

Another area that needs immediate concern is the high rate of unemployment among the Kashmiri youth. With the number of registered unemployed youth crossing six-lakh mark, Jammu and Kashmir has the highest unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent in comparison to its four neighboring states.

A serious thought should be given to provide employment opportunities to the youth in the region, both educated or otherwise, which cool down the temper.

Probably, the prime minister should experiment his Skill India and Start Up India missions in Jammu and Kashmir.


Jaiveer Shergill Jaiveer Shergill

The writer is a Supreme Court advocate.

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