We have come full circle in Jammu and Kashmir, after a decade of violence, which swallowed 3250 number of people, with 900 civilians. The 14 February suicide attack on the paramilitary forces killing at least 49 has impacted not just Kashmir – but sent shockwaves across the world. But the people — who are at the helm of affairs in India are reading it in wrong way — once again. This will be detrimental to finding a long lasting peace in the region.
The mistake committed while addressing Kashmir issue is to only look militants as the ones against state. Another warning came from the joint press conference of forces in Srinagar on Tuesday: Anyone who picks gun will be killed. There is no doubt about that, even they know it and so do their families. What we have seen in recent years is that – they leave to die. Killing them is nothing new. The issue for any government at the Centre is to start accepting that large number of population, who doesn’t have a gun around the shoulder, is also opposing, and they can’t be killed.
Without consulting the population, which has been suffering for decades, and without talking about or to them, there will be no change to situation in Kashmir. Even if all militants are killed one can’t say Kashmir issue is over. It is unlikely to be over. Being an open wound, something will come up each time. We have seen this delusion in past and doing the same thing, with a same method, is nothing news but repeating same mistakes again. After 2008-2010 civilian uprisings, the then Congress-led government at the Centre said ‘Kashmir is peaceful’; The phrase not only undermined the magnanimity of the situation but was also taken as challenge by a section of population.
Kashmir felt the Centre is telling them you have lost, and now we are in control.
But, if ever, they would have looked at the faultlines, they must have felt there wasn’t much in control. Things have not gone worse only under the current government; it wasn’t any better under the previous one either. The policy was same — delay and deflect — which fails every time.
So repeating the same again is not only naive but dangerous too. It is detrimental to finding any peace in South Asia. We are living in a time when U.S. is having peace talks with the Taliban; the ones they fought against and lost. U.S.-Taliban war and the developments today should send firm signal that military solution will not work to solve a conflict in South Asia. The region has enormous fault-lines that could only turn wider, if not addressed with patience and caution. Yes, the militancy in Kashmir can be crushed but will it also crush the issue? Unlikely.
Kashmir is the same. Militant killings or bar on protests will only help for a day, a week or month, or even years sometimes, but it will never solve the conflict from its root. There is no way other than talking to people and talking about those people. The prime example of mistake is to ask questions like: Why did this boy blow himself up? No. Question should be — what made him blow himself up? It can’t only be, as many would argue, Pakistan told him, so he did. The answer to this question only, that the Centre should start thinking about, will lead to the path to peace in Kashmir.