By Santosh Bhartiya
A year has passed but our beloved prime minister has lapsed into a resolute silence over Kashmir. He neither called a meeting nor issued a statement or even spoke his mind over the issue. Since last October, the Kashmir government – when I speak of Kashmir government, I speak of the ministers of both the BJP and the PDP – too has adopted a happy go lucky attitude and did not move forward; Mehbooba Mufti largely remained silent. She spent most of her time in Jammu and ran the affairs of her government and devised her future strategy from there itself. The politicians from Jammu and Kashmir were busy preparing for some elections. They never hold a meeting to take a collective call to talk to the central government. On the other hand there was nothing in the hands of Hurriyat Conference leaders, who are being ignored both by the Chief Minister and by the Prime Minister. Gilani Sahab’s bad health sent this front in complete silence.
All those people who visited Kashmir – from Kamal Morarka and his team to Yashwant Sinha and his team, from Seema Mustafa and her friends to all the individual journalists who feel for Kashmir – have tried to spend time between November 2016 and March 2017 in initiating dialogue with the people of Kashmir. But their voices fall on the deaf ears of the government and the media of the country. Television channels, which become synonymous of media of the country, are busy in playing the role of the PMO and the Defense Ministry. They pronounce their decisions on issues concerning the country and all of a sudden wage war without being concerned about the implication. From November to March, they remained silent, but the time of their rumbling and grumbling has arrived once again. Not utilizing this time may create difficult for the Indian state. Once again the message to the people of Kashmir was loud and clear: we do not want to understand your problems, we do not wish to talk to you or grant the least freedom which people in Mumbai, Kolkata, Patna, Chennai or Delhi enjoy. Again the message is we deal with Kashmir strictly. The government does not want to adopt any democratic means to engage with Kashmir. Meanwhile elections were held in Uttar Pradesh and India got a new Chief of Army Staff before the elections. As soon as he became the Army Chief, General Rawat issued a statement about Kashmir that the answer to stone pelting would be the bullet. A new trend of making political statement – whether by the heads of institutions, or by the army chief – has started in India, and these statements are issued without knowing their implications at national and international level.
At the time of demonetization it was emphatically claimed that this initiative will help quell the stone-throwing incidents in Jammu and Kashmir, and since terrorists have old currency notes, terrorism will also stop. The new notes will be distributed in such a way that it will not reach in the hands of terrorists and stone throwers. The Government believed firmly, or made the country believe, that stone pelters are engaged on a salary of rupees 10 to 15 thousand a month. One of the fastest television channels of the country also carried a sting operation in which a boy was shown saying that yes, I threw stones for fifteen thousand rupees. However, it was an altogether different matter that the boy was roaming around in Kashmir and saying that he did not say that. Now journalism does the job of loudspeakers more and raised the voice of public less.
Now suddenly, stone pelting has restarted in Kashmir and the stone pelters are school-going students. It is seen in the pictures that children carrying school bags are throwing stones. The most astonishing thing of these pictures is that girls are seen throwing stones. Does it mean that such a large number of stone-throwing children are being paid fifteen thousand rupees a month? Does it indicate that influence of Pakistan has increased in Kashmir? Or is it the first phase of open rebellion from the Indian republic? Or is it a new message to the prime minister that before dedicating his time for Gujarat election he should now take some time for the problems of the country and start the process of dialogue in Kashmir? I have been writing from the very beginning that if anyone can start an initiative in Kashmir, it is only the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On his first visit to Kashmir he pronounced these words: Jamhooriat, Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat. It the language which the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had spoken to Kashmir and due to which Kashmiris trusted him. After such a long gap Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti came to Delhi and met the Prime Minister. She repeated the often-repeated sentence that we have to start from where Atal Bihari Vajpayee had left. But should Mehbooba Mufti not think that she should start from where Mufti Sahib had left. Not applying the skills the way Mufti Saheb had applied has also been a major reason in increase in the suffering of people in Kashmir. There are people in Delhi who are concerned about the excesses being meted out to the people of Kashmir, and due to these excesses their disenchantment towards India is growing, and bending their minds towards azadi (freedom) again. Indian government does not want to counter this mindset. Is it because the Government want the things to be deteriorated to such an extent that accepting the policy devised by the security forces become inevitable, in that case it wanted to counter people’s disenchantment and children, whether they are boys or girls, throwing stones with the bullet? I do not think this will happen, but the incidents show that the things are moving in that direction.
The political parties of India appear helpless on Kashmir’s question. They think that if they say anything on the on Kashmir, then they will be treated as traitors. These days a new environment has been created in which being a patriot or a traitor is directly linked to the cow, Bharat mata and Kashmir. If you justify tough attitude on people of Kashmir including baton-charge, tear gas or shooting, then you are patriotic, if you think otherwise you are a traitor. Perhaps in this environment, the political parties of India or the leaders of India are avoiding saying anything. This the situation which explain the meaning of the absence of leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, V.P. Singh and Chandrasekhar. Its meaning reaches the foundation of democracy. I know that my voice will not heard by the honorable Prime Minister. But still I am requesting the Prime Minister to initiate a process immediately to listen to the voices of the people of Kashmir. The way he take the election campaign and wins election after election, he should take the question of Kashmir and start a campaign to win the hearts of the people of Kashmir. Hope that the Prime Minister will think over the request of an ordinary journalist.
By Santosh Bhartiya