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Dialogue, Elections and Peace in Kashmir



[ March 15, 2017 ]
In election time dialogue with separatists as usual is the buzz word for mainstream political parties contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in Srinagar and Anantnag parliamentary constituencies but while in power they forget the importance of dialogue with the separatists in Kashmir.



Though important challenge for any government in Jammu and Kashmir is to facilitate a dialogue with the separatists, but the tragic part of the mainstream politics in Kashmir is that none of the popular governments worked for the facilitation of dialogue with the separatists. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed talked much about ‘healing touch’ policy’ during his reign of power from 2002 to 2005 in Jammu and Kashmir but he could not heal the wounds of the victims of 15 years turbulent phase of armed conflict in the state and more tragic has been the response of the present PDP-BJP coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti to the process of conflict resolution process in the state. The regimes come and go but the issues standing at the core of difficulties in conflict resolution process like withdrawal of the Armed Special Powers Act (AFSPA), release of political detunes, and disbanding of the widely condemned Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Jammu & Kashmir police don’t attract the attention of governments taking over reigns of power in Delhi. When luke warm responses coincide with the occurrence and re-occurrence of militancy related incidents, the helmsmen in both Srinagar and Delhi politicize the issues for their petty political interests instead of taking initiative for building a congenial atmosphere for a workable conflict resolution in Jammu and Kashmir state. Now in power the PDP frustrated by anti-incumbency waves against the Mehbooba government is now delivering sermons on showing friendly posturing in dealing with the separatist leadership and the party was talking in similar tunes during campaigning in last parliamentary and assembly elections in the state.
Though healing touch policy propagated by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed during his first stint of Chief Ministership from 2002 to 2005 in the state is still the crying need of the hour for the proverbial common man but neither the BJP top brass has shown any respect to late Mufti’s healing touch policy nor the present PDP top brass has tended to seek such concession from the present central government headed by BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi. The involvement of separatists in a dialogue is riddled with paradoxes. The claim of the mainstream politicians that they are the “genuine representatives of the people” does not hold ground in Jammu and Kashmir state as they can’t claim to representatives even less than half the population of the state that lives in Kashmir and parts of Chenab Valley and Rajouri and Poonch districts in Jammu division. Above all the mainstream politicians cannot claim to be the genuine representatives of the separatist sentiment which has been the source of the controversies and conflicts in Jammu and Kashmir state. Since the new regimes coming to power in Jammu Kashmir have been themselves acknowledging the fact that their relevance is confined to governance of the state and by doing so they absolve themselves of any responsible role in conflict resolution in Jammu and Kashmir state. To safeguard the interests of mainstream politicians in the state the successive central governments have times and again gone back on their promises to extend specific invitation to those separatists who show their willingness to negotiate settlement on issues standing at the core of difficulties in conflict resolution process like withdrawal of the Armed Special Powers Act (AFSPA), release of political detunes, disbanding of the widely condemned Special Operations Group (SOG) and withdrawal of army and paramilitaries from populated areas of the state. So when New Delhi is not ready to even budge an inch from its stated position over the issues that concern the security of the people of the state how come the alienated people can be made part of the conflict resolution in Jammu and Kashmir state. Unless and until governments in Jammu and Kashmir and at the centre don’t tend to work in harmony for the settlement of the core issues like withdrawal of the Armed Special Powers Act (AFSPA), release of political detunes, disbanding of the widely condemned Special Operations Group (SOG) and withdrawal of army and paramilitaries from populated areas , the situation on ground can’t be changed by either by maximising the participation of people in elections or by denying the people right to negotiate issues of their security concerns.