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Editorial
All words, no action
If the Centre is serious about the 5 C-formula, it must begin afresh with actions that are compatible with it
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Union Home minister Rajnath Singh's remarks that he is in Kashmir with an open mind and willing to meet anyone who will help us in finding solutions to problems facing J&K juxtaposed with prime minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day address about need to embrace Kashmiris instead of killing them with bullets appear to indicate a major shift in the Centre's handling of Kashmir issue. However, they dampen any such hope in view of the complete mismatch between the words and the ground situation. The irony of Rajnath's welcome remarks in the backdrop of imposition of fresh restrictions and spree of arrests in the Valley as he landed cannot be missed. His assurance of anyone being free to talk to him remained as secluded and isolated as the protected species living in a barbed wire zone. The security forces continued with their crackdowns, arrests and unannounced curfews and the NIA extended its hunt of more and more people alleged to be involved in terror funding without making the process transparent while he was speaking. As long as there is mismatch between words and actions, there can be no expectations of a meaningful shift in the Centre's response with respect to Kashmir. On Monday, he inched forward with respect to the generosity of his words by stating that he would like to talk to all stakeholders, rather than his old rant of talking to only those who believed that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Significantly, he also finally made an assurance on Article 35-A that the Centre would never take any step that would hurt the people's sentiments. He also revealed Centre's idea of permanent solution of Kashmir issue is based on 5 Cs-Compassion, Communication, Coexistence, Confidence Building, and Consistency. It is still premature to dismiss these words as simple case of histrionics but much will depend on how New Delhi will walk this talk amidst a backdrop in which lack of Credibility mars the possibility of space for such a solution. A population fed on years with false hopes and assurance is unlikely to be melted by mere words.

While the Centre needs to match its words with action, it also needs to base its actions on a realistic assessment of the ground situation. As union home minister, it was important for Rajnath Singh to sing paeans in praise of valour of the soldiers and police and announce a package to ensure their better protection in dealing with violent protests and militant attacks. But far from announcing a more concrete political package other than the symbolism of 5 C formula, he took a flawed start with a flawed assessment of the present situation. After some security force officials arrived at the conclusion in recent days that there was improvement in Kashmir situation, the union home minister has endorsed that view without substantiating whether his assessment is based on empirical evidence of violent protests, militancy related attacks or some intelligence inputs. This assessment undermines the level of humiliation, anger and frustration in the Valley which is constantly prodding young men to pick up the gun, even as street protests have become far less venomous in action, and has helped enlarge the constituency of religious radicals, even though not substantially. It doesn't take rocket science to understand that due to fatigue or other factors it usually takes a little gestation period to move from one season of unrest or rebellion to another. A quick glance at recent years would not only reveal the long pauses between prolonged Valley wide unrest but also that the sequels are far from vitriolic than the previous ones. Amid a backdrop of curfew, restrictions, arrests, continuum of policy of repression through bullets and pellets, any visible improvement in law and order situation is but a false mirage. Anger and suspicions of New Delhi's plan in recent months have only doubled with Centre's response on special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the use of NIA to nail Hurriyat leaders, businessmen and even professionals including a journalist. This is not to say that everybody being picked up is fully or partially innocent, it is important to allay the general fears and suspicions that 'those implicated in the case are being made convenient scapegoats' by showing some transparency in the investigations. Besides, Hurriyat despite all its possible weaknesses, flaws and corruptibility, is the only platform that is representative of a political ideology that a major chunk of Kashmiris believe in. To decimate is to make the channels of communication more ineffective than they are. Such actions therefore send a message to Kashmir that defies the logic of Rajnath's 5 Cs. If the Centre means business, it must indeed start anew with actions that are compatible with Compassion, Communication, Coexistence, Confidence Building, and Consistency.


News Updated at : Tuesday, September 12, 2017
 
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