No condemnation suffices the dastardly act of killing over 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The enemies of mankind have once again proved how barbaric they can be without slightest provocation. The jawans were returning to their base after spending quality time with family, friends and relatives. All of them were unarmed, yet, they were brutally attacked. The world in unison has stood by India’s in this hour of grief. Even the secessionist leaders of Kashmir did not come out in the support of the terrorists, perpetrators of the heinous crime. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has remarked that sacrifices would not go in vain. Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik has vowed to wipe out terrorism from the valley within three months. People from all walks of life have also expressed their solidarity with the security forces. But with all said and done, one will have to admit the fact that the nation has to go many more miles before making Kashmir terror free. We are nowhere near our final destination.
Since Kashmir became a part of India, an ongoing debate is how to tackle the menace of secessionism in the valley. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India was in favour of winning the hearts of the Kashmiri people through dialogue. But his then deputy Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had some other ideas. According to late Patel, who was instrumental in bringing various princely states under New Delhi’s rule, secessionism had no place in Kashmir as the Kashmiri King himself had signed the ‘instrument of accession.’ In other words, late Patel was in favour of using force to quell the disturbing elements, while Nehru tried to woo Kashmiris by promising them more autonomy.
Since then the debate is ongoing. Successive governments in New Delhi often flip-flopped with its strategy towards Kashmir. As a result, till today Government of India has no concrete Kashmir policy. Sometimes it holds talks with secessionists forces; sometimes abruptly finish the negotiation process. The matter has become more complex over the years due to Pakistan’s wholehearted support to various terror groups. The neighbouring country has left no stone unturned to trouble India with the help of misguided youths. When Pakistan did not find anyone from the valley to carry forward its disruptive agenda, our neighbour even hired mercenaries to kill innocent people in Kashmir.
A golden opportunity to solve the Kashmir imbroglio came when PDP-BJP formed a coalition government for the first time in Kashmir. The coalition of two ideologically opposite parties brought hope of finding a middle path. Moreover, in its charter of governance, both the parties promised to hold talks with cross-section of people including the secessionists. But all hopes evaporated when BJP adopted ‘peace first, talks later’ stand, while PDP advocated for talks irrespective of the law and order situation. As a matter of fact by taking different views even at the time of sharing power, both the parties did a great injustice to the peace loving people of India. The parties just forgot to keep national interest far and above of vote bank politics.
For a peaceful Kashmir, need of the hour is alienation of disruptive forces from the mainstream. Terrorists should be identified and punished, there is no second opinion about it. But at the same time sincere effort should be made to earn the trust of the Kashmiri people. One should remember that only by winning the hearts of the Kashmiris, we can reach to our final destination i.e. peace in Kashmir.