Military action alone cannot bring back normalcy in trouble-torn Kashmir Valley. Neither can central rule by proxy enable lasting peace in the region that has seen subversive terrorism ably abetted, funded and propelled by extremist military elements across the border. There is no alternative to democratic engagement of the wider population in the Valley, Jammu and Ladakh regions that are integral to the Indian republic.
Political forces aligned to the idea of Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaaniyat — which prime minister Narendra Modi had said was the mantra for peace in the region — will have to be groomed and supported as part of a larger plan to bring about peace in the Valley. While these objectives are stated easily, the ground situation in Kashmir makes things complex given the havoc being wreaked by secessionist elements.
For things to change, a democratically-elected government with peoples’ participation from all three distinct regions of Jammu and Kashmir needs to be installed at the earliest. Only then, will the design of terrorists to alienate the Kashmir Valley be effectively defeated. However, there is indeed a case for stern measures to be taken while dealing with terrorists. Further, severing the linkages between Kashmir militants with Pakistani military elements needs to be aggressively pursued.
Slipping back to the Kashmir Valley shut down experienced during UPA-I and UPA-II is not the way forward. The centre will have to quickly restore the democratic set-up with legitimacy to run the government in the state. Civil society activists, academia and all those who seek a solution within the framework of the Indian Constitution need to be mobilised.
The NDA government at the centre led by prime minister Narendra Modi has definitely taken a huge gamble while pulling the rug from under the government led by PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti. Though the PDP-BJP government has come to an abrupt end, Mehbooba Mufti should continue to engage actively with all stakeholders in the state.
Secondly, all political parties aligned to either the NDA or UPA should outright condemn terror that claimed lives of journalists in a high security compound and soldiers on vacation. Partisan politics in the Valley, Jammu and Ladakh does not augur well for the state. Instead, the centre in consultation with democratic political parties in the state can weigh the options of a multi-party rule in the state. A new template for governance should be put together.
Simultaneously, global public opinion needs to be mobilised against terror and subversive terrorist elements. Hand in hand, the huge task of dismantling the terror infrastructure across the border and within the Valley will have to continue. Similarly, taking the benefits of government schemes, cultural and sports events would also effectively help ward off youth from joining hands with subversives. Rabble-rousers of every hue in the Hurriyat ranks that support the cause of Pakistan will have to face the music without let-up.